When a church is struck by lightning, it’s likely to make one pause and consider-and then get on with repairs as quickly as possible. So when Highpointe Church in Oklahoma City was zapped in an August 2013 electrical storm, demolishing the main building’s electrical systems and all connected lighting and audio equipment, its leaders didn’t hesitate. They called on 35-year-veteran systems integrator and designer Enginuity, headquartered in Tulsa, to design and install new systems for the 1980s-vintage, 680-seat sanctuary, including a state-of-the art PA system from Fulcrum Acoustic.
“The lightning strike was apparently a static air burst that came through the wiring in the ceiling, destroying everything local in the building,” says Enginuity CIO Tom Johnson. “Thermostats exploded, the main power transformer was ruined, wiring melted throughout the building, keyboards onstage were ruined, and pieces were blown off the mixing console. The conduit in the floor had previously collapsed, and much of it had melted wire that we couldn’t get out.”
After months of assessing the damage and dealing with insurance, Enginuity was approved to outfit the church’s next-door youth center so the congregation could worship there while the main building was being repaired. In the end, the project cost $2.6 to $2.7 million and took 19 months. “Everything had to be redone,” recalls Johnson. “We built a new electrical room and installed a new transformer, which was cooled and sound isolated. We did extensive acoustic work and built a new set design for the stage. When we installed the new sound system, we couldn’t use the old conduit, so we ran redundant CAT5 and audio lines to the speaker boxes. All of the wiring fit in a 1 ¾-inch conduit.”
Highpointe is an Assembly of God church with contemporary services. “It’s a rock ‘n’ roll church with a seven- to nine-piece band,” notes Johnson. “The music pastor is a studio musician, and the praise band plays contemporary Christian music and songs off the radio. Sometimes they bring in professional guest artists. They play louder than in most churches we’ve done, so they needed a very powerful and precise system that could deliver the sound just to the seats and nowhere else.”
To accomplish this, the Enginuity team chose three custom-built Fulcrum LCR clusters, each with three powered DX1565AC dual 15-inch cabinets with 60-degree vertical by 40-degree horizontal dispersion-an unusual configuration. (Fulcrum Acoustic DX-series three-way loudspeakers provide the output and pattern control of two low-frequency transducers in an enclosure size that would typically house a conventional two-way system.) The center boxes have rotated horns. Each of the nine cabinets is driven by two 1,500 watt modules for a total of 3,000 watts per cabinet.
DSP is supplied by two Symetrix units. The church’s Yamaha CL5 digital mixer is Dante-equipped and connected via fiber to the neighboring youth building so audio can be sent bidirectionally between buildings.
In a job this extensive, almost everything is a challenge, but the rigging for Highpointe Church was especially complicated. “We had one of the most extensive rigging bills on this job that we’ve had,” remarks Johnson. “The roof is 62 feet high, and we could only fly the loudspeakers in a few places. The stage had been added to three different times, and each time they built a new ceiling, one on top of the other. The triple ceiling was a rigging nightmare! The two main support beams are 12 feet tall and 2 feet wide, and we drilled through those and made custom rigging mounts, while making sure we were only putting sound where seats are. We had to use all custom hardware.”
The building seats 680 worshipers on the ground and has a wraparound balcony that is not currently used. In the initial remodel, no sound was aimed at the balcony but in the future, stadium seating will be installed from the floor up to the balcony, and the Fulcrum system will be expanded to serve that area.
“The Fulcrum people were fantastic,” enthuses Johnson. “I can’t say enough good things about them and their products. The client is extremely happy. It was a long, challenging job but the church is better than ever, and all of us could not be more pleased.”