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Planar CarbonLight LED Video Walls Provide Flexible Integration and Promote Engagement with Church Congregation

Church of the Servant was brought to Oklahoma City in 1968 by Norman Neaves, who chose the name because Jesus Christ was the ultimate servant leader of God. As a branch of the United Methodists, Church of the Servant started with a small congregation and has since grown and evolved through the years while still maintaining the original intent to live up to its name.

Since its very beginning, Church of the Servant has placed its primary emphasis on meeting the needs of its congregation. In line with this belief, the church became interested in ways to elevate their service to create a more compelling and fulfilling worship experience for their members.

Getting their message across in the clearest and most meaningful way means using the best tools available, and to that end, the church turned to Oklahoma City-based Cory's Audio Visual to design a solution utilizing the latest video wall display technology.

"Church of the Servant wanted to create a more exciting service and foster engagement with the congregation—especially their younger audience," said Abby Wolfe, director of marking & communications with Cory's Audio Visual. "They approached us with a vision for their upcoming Easter program and expressed their desire for something that could be transformative but also work with their specific requirements."

The need for a versatile solution

From the onset, it became clear that a video wall installation at Church of the Servant would require a solution that would address the church's distinct concerns and challenges.

For one, the church's main sanctuary is a purposely-designed and thoughtfully-crafted worship venue with lots of natural light, and so a video wall installation would need to be sufficiently bright and sharp to provide optimal clarity in the well-lit room while at the same time not being intrusive or overpowering to the space. "It was important to the church that the integrity of the sanctuary was maintained," Wolfe said. "A new video wall couldn't be disruptive to the service."

The space itself—a 1,300-person capacity auditorium—also presented an integration challenge from the standpoint of its unique shape and architecture. "The room was built in the early 90s and incorporates a cantilevered design with unconventional angles," said Tony Channel, operations manager at Cory's Audio Visual. "As such, a solution needed to be flexible enough to work in this type of setting."

Additionally, in contrast to a permanently fixed installation, the church wanted a video wall solution that was versatile and could be moved to accommodate their different programs.

With these range of factors in mind, Cory's Audio Visual set out to find the most fitting solution and the best partner to help implement it. This led them to Planar, and specifically, to the Planar CarbonLight™ CLI Series—a line of lightweight and flexible LED displays that are ideal for flexible-fixed applications and adaptable to a wide range of installations. A patented carbon fiber construction makes the displays uniquely lightweight, thin and strong, and easy-to-use bracketry allows each display to be removed and installed at any location in the video wall without disrupting the overall layout.

Two Planar CarbonLight CLI Series LED video walls were subsequently installed in the main worship auditorium, the lightweight design eliminated the need for extensive remodeling or significant changes to the structure. "The Planar CarbonLight CLI Series offered a thin profile LED display that could be feasibly integrated into the space without too much expense to the cantilevered system, allowing the video walls to safely mount in a dead-hang configuration," Channel said.

The flexibility of the Planar CarbonLight CLI Series also allowed for the video walls to be mounted in such a way that the church can move them up or down to fit their needs.

"Much like other projects that involve worship spaces, we approached this installation with the objective to integrate the video walls so that the imagery would enhance the worship proceedings and not distract," Channel said. "The subtle form-factor and design of the Planar CarbonLight CLI Series helps accomplish this."

A tight timeline to Easter

Cory's Audio Visual also had to manage a quick turnaround time so that the installation could be completed in time for Easter.

"We knew Planar were our best option in term of a partner to help meet the project deadline," said Wolfe. "They are very responsive and provided strong support. Whenever we called with a question, instead of 'no you can't do that,' their approach was to help find a solution. This project was atypical and Planar's expertise really helped us to finish it on time."

Enhancing reach and participation

The new Planar CarbonLight CLI Series video walls were unveiled to the congregation on Palm Sunday and then were utilized again one week later during Easter Sunday service, allowing the church to show videos, branded graphics and song lyrics in sharp clarity to a full auditorium.

Church of the Servant Senior Minister Matthew Mitchell, who steered the effort that led to the integration project, said the displays have provided more reach to the congregation, encouraging greater participation among members. "People are visual learners and the video walls really help us to connect with the congregation in that regard," Mitchell said. "A thoughtful use of technology in the worship space can be effective. Although the message never changes, the way we deliver it certainly can."

During hymns is where the video walls have really been impactful, according to Mitchell. "You look around the room and people's chins are up, their eyes focused on the displays," he said.

"After service, one of our members, who happens to be blind, approached us to tell about the transformation that she perceived. Her hearing is much more acute, and she said there was a remarkable difference in the energy of the room during the singing—the sound and participation was much higher. We knew right then that the project was a success."

A higher level of intimacy

The new LED video walls have also helped involve the congregation in another way. During a baptism and a Confirmation, a high-definition video camera feed was shown on the displays, which allowed the audience to be more closely involved. "It really personalized those experiences for everyone in the audience," said Reverend Randy Shrauner, executive minister of Church of the Servant. "People who would otherwise be at a distance could share in those special moments."