Proposed Renovation of the Sanctuary Platform of our Attridge Site

One of the responsibilities of our Forest Grove Community Church Attridge Facility Development Team (in conjunction with our ministry staff and ministry leaders) is to evaluate our Attridge Facility and determine ways we can increase the functionality and ministry potential of the facility that God has entrusted us with. It is these types of evaluations and discussions that led to the creation of the new Welcome Space and Coffee Area that is now used for ministry every day of the week.

As we continue to explore our facility, the Facility Development team noticed some limitations which the design of the sanctuary platform placed on the ministries using in that room, and have begun the process of renovating that space to make it more flexible for ministry.

Below, you will find information explaining the scope of the renovation, the reasons behind these decisions, and the implications it may have on our ministries.

Why Renovate?

The team of people involved in designing and building our facility did an amazing job of providing a sanctuary space that not only provided a place for people to worship – but also met the diverse needs of the ministry that was happening in the building when it was constructed over thirty years ago. We are so grateful for the dedication, sacrifice and discernment of these people in our church community.

Over the last three decades, the way we use our sanctuary has changed. We have gone from occasionally using a slide projector for special services and presentations, to using an overhead projector and transparencies to project song lyrics every service, to using video projection every service for song lyrics, sermon notes, missions updates, videos and more.

The music on Sunday Mornings has also become more diverse. We have moved from having music led with piano, organ and a single song leader – to incorporating more instruments and vocalists. Over the past three decades we have started to incorporate more drama, stage design, and tactile worship opportunities to enhance the scripture passage we are discussing.

As we consider the various changes to our Sunday Morning Gatherings – as well as the many other events and ministries that make use of our Sanctuary space – we acknowledge that a more flexible stage platform will enhance the ministry that takes place in the Sanctuary.

Current Limitations

It was mentioned above that the original layout of the stage was limiting to our current ministries. Although the square footage of our stage was actually quite large, it was broken up into many small areas.

Some of our larger instruments including the piano and drums, only fit in a couple of places on the platform. When we incorporated choir, drama, flags or other features in our worship gatherings which require mores pace, we couldn’t “shift” the worship team a little bit one way or the other, as the piano and drums didn’t allow it. They either needed to be on the center part of the stage, or squeeze into one of the small wings on one of the sides of the stage. These areas are really too tight to properly accommodate a full worship team. Although we have worked around this limitation many times throughout the year, it is particularly challenging for services such as Christmas Eve, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

The original layout also was limiting for other ministries. For example. GroveKids used the sanctuary for Fun Camps – but struggled to fit the Fun Camp set around the choir loft. GroveKids Christmas Musical will also now have more flexibility about where they place their choir and where they perform their drama portions of their presentations once the renovation is complete.

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What Will the Renovation Entail?

As the ministry staff have met to discuss the renovation, one of the priorities was to create a space that is as flexible as possible. The renovation will involve the removal of the choir loft and create a single, large, level platform. The two side “wing areas” on the East and West Side of the platform will no longer be separate areas – but instead will become part of the one large platform. The curved “band shell” at the back of the choir loft has been removed, and will be replaced with a simple vertical wall covered by a heavy black stage drapery. Why did we choose a black drapery – click here to find out.

An aerial view of the proposed renovation, illustrating the improved usable space of the platform. The aerial view is shown both with and without the projection screen.

Addressing the Questions

We realize that a renovation such as this will raise many questions, it is our hope that this webpage will address some of the questions you may have regarding how this renovation might effect current and future ministries at Forest Grove Community Church.

Does this Mean the End of Choirs?

One of the greatest fears some people might have when considering removing the permanent choir loft is that we will loose our tradition of choral music at Forest Grove Community Church. Choirs have been a significant part of our DNA over the past 50 years – and continue to be an important part of our ministry today.

From our GroveKids Children’s Choir, to our Sunday Night Praise choir, to our use of Worship Choirs on Sunday morning, to choirs at Funerals and other significant gatherings – choirs remain an important part of our ministry. Our desire is to provide a more flexible space for them to use.

Although we considered purchasing portable choral risers for groups such as Sunday Night Praise to use, discussions with these groups revealed that they would not make use of portable risers if they were purchased. For this reason portable choral risers will not be purchased at this time.

By removing the permanent choral loft, we are not trying to put an end to choirs – but simply to provide a more flexible platform for everyone that uses the space.

What is the Purpose of a Curtain on the Back Wall?

Installing a curtain on the back wall of the platform is far less about appearance then it is about acoustics. The most important benefit of this curtain is to provide a surface that absorbs sound, whereas the original “band shell” design is designed to reflect sound.

Over the past three decades we have continually increased the quality of our sound equipment. We currently use microphones to control the volume of everything from choirs, to speakers, to instruments. We no longer design services that solely rely on the acoustics of the room to carry the sound. By installing a back wall that absorbs sound, we provide the sound technician greater control of the mix in the room. We can greatly reduce the effect of the sound from instruments bouncing off the band shell and out around the room – allowing the sound person better control of what people hear.

Why Move to a Single Center Screen?

Another component of the platform renovation will involve moving to a single, center mounted projection screen. There are a number of reasons for this – and to a great extent it is related to the evolution of projection technology.

As we upgrade the projection in our sanctuary to provide brighter, clearer text and images – we also realize that most software, videos, and equipment is designed for at least a 16:9 ratio.

As we have spoken with projection specialists, they strongly encouraged us to move to a center mounted widescreen running a High Definition signal. In their experience a center mounted screen is a better fit for the shape and size of our sanctuary.

Click below to read why HDTV makes a centre screen the best option for us.

As mentioned earlier, when Forest Grove Community Church first began projecting lyrics – they made use of an overhead projector. The projection shape of an overhead projector is taller then it is wide. When the move to video projectors was made, we moved to a 4:3 ratio projection. This ratio is almost square – although slightly wider then it is tall. During this time the 4:3 ratio was the standard for videos and televisions.

Older style televisions used this same 4:3 ratio, as did the original computer monitors (some of our staff still use old 4:3 ratio computer monitors).

With the development of HDTV, Flat Screen TV’s and Laptop Computers – the standard shape of video changed again. All of these technologies incorporate at least 16:9 ratio (or some even wider.)

For us to install two 16:9 screens in the sanctuary – they will come remarkably close to touching in the center! The visual effect will be a massive area of screens in the front of the church.  By moving to a single center screen, not only would it mean that we would end up with a larger overall screen with larger print and images – but it would also have less square footage of “white screen” at the front of the room then we do now with two smaller screens.

In an attempt to keep up with technology (or at least not fall too far behind) the decision was made to begin planning for the change to a single center screen.

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What Happens to the Cross?

Let us begin by assuring everyone that we are committed to having a cross in the sanctuary as we believe it is a central symbol to our faith. However, by moving to a central screen, it is felt that the current position of the cross will lose its focus and is therefore not the best place in the room for the cross to be situated.

Although it may not be permanently affixed to a single location in the sanctuary, a large cross will continue to be a central symbol on our platform.