LED Video Walls Elevate Sanctuary Worship Experience
Founded in 1868, Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church (LPMBC) is a large Christian ministry located in Nashville, Tennessee, with over 5,000 members. The congregation meets in a two-tiered sanctuary with an upper level that is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass windows, allowing the entire sanctuary to be filled with natural light.
In 2016, the church set out to resolve a visual problem: a former upgrade of the church audio sound system in a cluster design created a visual obstruction that blocked viewing from seating on both the left and right side of the sanctuary. Additionally, the abundant amount of ambient lighting in the sanctuary made viewing of the projected material difficult for audience members—particularly those seated in back rows.
After first considering the purchase of new projection equipment and a structural change to the hanging speaker cluster design, the church instead opted for a solution incorporating the latest display technology—a decision that would allow for improved viewing, better longevity and more growth potential. Based on the recommendation of Len Thicklin, a church member and AV professional who acted as a technical consultant on behalf of the church, two Planar TW Series fine pitch LED video walls (4x4) with a 2.5 millimeter pixel pitch were installed on either side of the sanctuary pulpit, enabling for the best possible viewing throughout the church.
Engineered to support the highest pixel density over long periods of use, and offering wide viewing angles for excellent off-axis uniformity, the Planar TW video walls were an ideal solution for the spacious, well-lit sanctuary. Advanced calibration provides maximum full color and brightness uniformity with no visible seams, and the display also delivers benefits unique to its "flat panel" design—including a 16:9 form factor optimized for the most popular high resolution standards.
Ken Warren, chief technical officer of Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based TriStar Digital Connections, which performed the integration of the LED video walls, said the 2.5mm pixel pitch and Full 1080p native resolution of each video wall is a perfect fit, offering consistently bright and crisp image quality. "With the wall being native 1080p, every pixel aligns without the need for a scaling processor," Warren said. "One of the reasons we chose Planar is because they are the world industry leaders in video wall technology."
Transitioning to a Media-Driven Worship Experience
Thicklin explained that the transition to LED displays is part of a larger effort to transform the church service from a presentation format to more of a media-driven worship experience. "It's a very traditional church," he said of LPMBC. "Embracing progressive ideas takes quite a bit of time. But the leadership wanted to start adopting progressive ideas to accommodate the millennial market."
In evaluating the LED video wall option, the church leadership eventually began to recognize the benefits in terms of enabling for future presentations and significant growth opportunities down the road. "As soon as they saw how the displays could enhance worship for all of our members and not just a segment, it became an almost immediate buy in," Thicklin said.
An Easter Sunday Unveiling
The Planar LED video walls were installed shortly before Easter, providing LPMBC a special occasion to introduce the video walls to the congregation. On Easter Sunday, as song filled the sanctuary, the service began with the video walls showing a live, razor-sharp video feed from high-definition cameras panning the audience and choir. "Instantly, everyone was surprised by the sharpness and extreme clarity of the video walls, which in turn inspired the choir—they could see how everyone was really captivated," Thicklin said.
Throughout the service, the video walls were used to show vibrant graphics and clear lyrics. "The viewing from anywhere in the church sanctuary was just simply outstanding as the lyric text was very distinct," Thicklin said. "Overall, the video walls performed fantastically—it energized the service. The response from the congregation was nothing but positive, as the clarity was remarkable. That's what everyone mentioned—the clarity."
LPMBC Pastor H. Bruce Maxwell, who delivered the Easter Sunday sermon, said the LED video walls have truly enhanced the worship experience. "It was the best possible solution to our problem," he said. "Now, when we display scripture for our congregation, the legibility is crystal clear and impressive."
And while the improved technology certainly appeals to younger churchgoers, the LPMBC leadership team received positive feedback from congregation members of all ages. " Many of the members have actually been calling the church and expressing how pleased they are," Thicklin said.
Inspiring Future Uses
With the addition of the Planar LED video walls, the church now envisions new opportunities for creating positive uses. "The leadership is putting more emphasis toward production and is assembling a worship production team to add more video content, build bigger productions and take full advantage of the display technology," Thicklin said. "The possibilities are endless." For example, Pastor Maxwell is planning to employ the LED video walls for a new teaching series. "We are really excited about all the new opportunities for using the video walls in the future," he said.
Thicklin added that the transition has been a positive experience for Lake Providence Church. "Today, many houses of worship are trending toward video wall displays," he said. "I'm glad our leadership decided to become early adopters of this technology."