A year ago we started receiving pledges toward three restoration projects in our Sanctuary—organ, lights and sound.  The congregation was generous, pledging over $2.1 million against our goal of $1.5 million.  In this first year gifts have exceeded $1.1 million.

The new organ console is soon to be delivered.  The new lift and renovated modesty rail are in place.  Later this summer the pipes will be removed from the pipe chambers for cleaning and repair.  Drawings of possible lighting configurations are well underway.

What about the sound?

Earlier this month the Building and Property Council received and reviewed recommendations from our sound consultants, and I anticipate they will arrive at a recommendation soon.

The achievement of quality sound in any large room populated by numerous people is a tough assignment.  Our consultants measured the “speech intelligibility” of the sanctuary, a process involving precise technology.  They wanted to see how well a hearer can understand what is being said from the pulpit or lectern, not whether the preacher is saying anything worth hearing, if you get my drift.

Our sanctuary is a challenging room for the spoken word.  For one thing, it has a 3.5 second reverberation, which makes is very alive for choral and instrumental music.  Unfortunately, this means spoken words bounce around for 3.5 seconds before they land.  One of our instructions to the consultants was to do nothing that would harm the room for music.

For another thing, the current pew-back system is no longer state-of-the-art.  Not all the speakers are operative, most are pointed at worshippers’ knees instead of their heads and some pews have only two speakers.  It is a system that has served this church so well across the years, but technology has taken great strides across the decades since it was installed.

Finally, there are no speakers in the transepts and only one of the two balcony speakers still works.

When the Building and Property Council arrives at a recommendation, you will be given an opportunity to hear their recommendation and vote on an updated sound system.

We are in the business of communicating the Gospel, and a new system will raise the intelligibility of the speech, and perhaps even the content, of the sermons.