How Bridge Church Elevated Services with Re-Imagined AV Facilities

Bright white beams shine down on stage at a house of worship.
(Image credit: Stage Audio Works)

Bridge Church in Alberton, Johannesburg, is a contemporary church that strives to be a catalyst of positive social change within the local community; ‘moving lives’ forward. The congregation has grown considerably in recent years, causing the church to undergo a renovation, increasing its capacity from 400 to 900. As part of this renovation, Stage Audio Works (SAW) was brought in to design, supply, and deliver a complete audio overhaul plus a turnkey house lighting and additions to the existing stage lighting solution, complete with flexible control for all of these systems.

SAW was referred to the project by its very own Lee Thomson, a SAW project sales manager, who is also a member of the church. Having observed the successful delivery of many similar solutions, he could confidently recommend SAW, who have an extensive house-of-worship project portfolio, to help take Bridge Church’s system to the next level.  

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“This project was especially important to me as it is one of the initial Plus Audio installations that we’ve carried out in the house-of-worship market. It’s great to see the technology being put to good use,” explained Thomson. “They get a new system providing the required headroom, coverage and even intelligible audio reproduction within a very reasonable budget. I can help my church operate and provide in situ training, and SAW can add another satisfied customer to the list—a win, win!”

SAW’s primary brief was to provide a significant upgrade to the church’s audio system. They completely replaced the existing point source solution with a higher quality Plus Audio system to accommodate for a larger audience and bolstered the front-of-house with a new Yamaha CL3 console with RIO stage boxes providing more inputs and outputs. They also required an overall control solution for the house lighting, LED switching and aircon.

A house-of-worship stage alit in blue and purple lighting as a band plays.

(Image credit: Stage Audio Works)

“After hearing the brief and inspecting the site, we specified a Plus Audio line array solution comprising eight PA14i boxes with a curvature of 15 degrees, and a further four with a 30-degree dispersion. These were arranged in two L/R hangs and supported by four powerful sub-bass loudspeakers on the low end,” recalled Stage Audio Works CTO, Nathan Ihlenfeldt. “We went with a Plus Audio solution as it simply delivered the best performance for its price point. With this arrangement, we were able to engineer a system that provided the required coverage and SPL level, while maintaining a very high standard of fidelity.”

To help with the acoustic treatment of the church, SAW enlisted the assistance of Bruce Gessner, a reputable acoustician, who has worked with SAW on several occasions. He provided his expertise for the duration of the project.

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SAW also implemented a sophisticated control system, based around a Q-SYS core. This system grants staff total control over the facilities in the building’s main areas: the auditorium, foyer, café, deck and even the toilets.

A house-of-worship stage lit up and ready for a performance.

(Image credit: Stage Audio Works)

Propelling the house lighting element, SAW integrated 36 sleek Stage Plus RGBW LED lights with integrated convection cooling. The stage was covered by six Acme wash lights, fixed to a trussing solution provided by Total Fabrications. Both solutions were also connected to and controlled by the Q-SYS network.

“One tricky aspect of the install was that the church was still being used as a regular venue every Sunday,” said SAW’s Jared Dollery who coordinated the installation project. “This meant that we had to adapt our timeline and deliver the project in segments, so that the space was still fully functional at the end of each week.”

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“We were made aware of Bridge Church’s intentions to expand going in, so it’s definitely something that we took into consideration,” said Ihlenfeldt. “Upgrading their network to be Dante-compatible with two new Rio stage boxes and a Yamaha console provides Bridge Church more flexibility with their current system, as well as guaranteeing future scalability.”

“We’re really happy with the upgrade. The SAW team were extremely supportive and reassuring throughout the process, and they delivered exceptionally on all fronts.” said Pastor Nikki Coleman. Her husband and fellow church leader, Pastor Trevor Coleman agreed. “We’re thankful that Lee connected us, and it will be a huge benefit going forward to have someone on board who understands the system. Our goal is to eventually cater to an audience of 3,000, so obviously we will be looking to expand the system down the line, and we’ll be sure to call on SAW’s expertise when that time comes.”

The AVNetwork staff are storytellers focused on the professional audiovisual and technology industry. Their mission is to keep readers up-to-date on the latest AV/IT industry and product news, emerging trends, and inspiring installations.