Posted in projects on February 11, 2016 1:20 pm EST

Harvesting Connection

Forethought and AVL design combine to help growing Harvester Christian Church in St. Charles, Mo., cultivate an intimate, close-knit worship experience.

Wave, designer and integrator of the AVL, acoustics, and broadcast systems at Harvester Christian, conducts a design process led by listening. Through focusing on listening more than on selling gear, Wave Executive Director Armando Fullwood says the technology systems serve a higher purpose and help church staff reach its ministry goals.











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TAGS: architectural design, avl design, avl upgrade, collaboration, worship space design,


By Carolyn Heinze

Last summer, Harvester Christian Church in St. Charles, Mo., moved into a new 36,000-square-foot worship center. The church, which also has a campus in Troy, Mo., had been meeting in a Sprung tensioned fabric membrane structure for a number of years, and its continued growth mandated a permanent facility that would accommodate its expanding membership.

"When you can see each other’s faces, you start singing to each other. It’s like being around a dinner table…. Psychologically when people see each other, they feel like there’s more intimacy."

—Armando Fullwood, Executive Director, Wave, Harrisburg, NC

“[The Sprung structure] was oblong-shaped—the stage was in the middle, and [the structure] was very wide, but not that deep, so there were a lot of seats that were just not good seats,” Harvester Christian’s Executive Pastor Rob Bender explains. While the structure seated about 850 people, he admits that only 500 of the seats enabled worshippers to really connect with the preacher. “[In the other seats,] you were almost looking at the side of their face, and you couldn’t see the image magnification (IMAG) on the side screens because the space wasn’t conducive to [good] sightlines.”

A Digico SD8 console is used to provide live audio reinforcement. Images courtesy of Wave.

The new 1,300-seat sanctuary was designed to incorporate optimal sightlines from anywhere in the space, with the audio, video, and theatrical lighting systems serving to create an immersive worship experience. Accommodating a large number of congregants while maintaining intimacy was a high priority for the church, which Bender has described as “the largest small church-feel out there … it feels like a church of 250, but it’s really a church of 2,300.” In a video produced by Wave, the Harrisburg, N.C.-based design, acoustics, and integration firm that oversaw the technology for this facility, Bender shares that, “trying to hold on to that value of that small church feel has been tough. We don’t want to lose that, yet we want to have a place where we have an extra seat.... ”

Design Intent

Armando Fullwood, executive director at Wave, explains the his firm handled acoustics, environment acoustics, noise control, room shaping, stage design, as well as the design and integration of the audio, video, and house and production lighting, as well as the broadcast systems that enable the church to transmit services to the Troy campus. He emphasizes that while his company is technology-focused, technology doesn’t lead the process.

“We don’t sell technology, we create solutions,” he says. “Technology is a necessary part of the equation, but it’s not the driving force. When we’ve removed the burden of feeling like we have to sell technology, we become better listeners.”  continued >>