Founded in 1913 as an independent evangelical church in the Baptist tradition, Cherrydale Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia, places a high value on offering their growing congregation a diverse program of traditional and contemporary services.
“As it says in Romans 10:17 ‘faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’,” says Tim McGhee, Cherrydale’s technology and facility manager. “Sound is the most important thing we do, and we wanted to support the full spectrum of worship.”
To that end, Cherrydale chose to install an audio system incorporating a comprehensive suite of Tannoy loudspeakers to meet their diverse needs for the reinforcement of speech, as well as various other sources. This list includes subtle enhancement of the church’s state-of-the-art Allen digital organ, as well as support for a variety of praise bands, which often include a full rhythm section and multiple vocalists.
Upgrading the audio system, however, was only a part of the $9.6 million renovation and expansion at Cherrydale, and the culmination of a project entitled “The Imagine Campaign,” originally launched in 2003 and intended to expand the facility substantially, so that they might reach out, invite others to join their congregation, and actually have a place to put them.
Completed in April 2010, just in time for Easter services, the build was no small task, explains Ralph James, project manager of the campaign and a member of the Cherrydale congregation since 1947.
“We took our previous sanctuary and knocked out both side walls,” James explains. “We bumped one side out 15 feet and enlarged the seating for the main floor and the balcony and put in a broadcast booth behind that. And on the other side we bumped it out 35 feet to make room for a new stage, the baptistery and changing rooms.”
Given the extent their musical program, the primary goals at the church were to achieve maximum intelligibility and comprehensive coverage throughout the expanded 580-capacity sanctuary, as well as in various other areas attached to it.
But the overall look of the sanctuary was also a dominant concern, says John Rossman, project manager for Baltimore-based integrator/installer, Design & Integration Inc., who first became involved in the project in August 2009.
“Aesthetics were a very high priority from the inception of the project and from the architect on down,” Rossman notes. “They didn’t want to see any of the A/V equipment, so the speakers had to be as small as possible so that they wouldn’t be obtrusive.”
The idea was to improve on not only the sound of the previous sanctuary, but to disguise the audio infrastructure entirely, creating a solution that offered high impact sound quality but a very low impact visual footprint.