The west was won, with grit and determination, and of course, prayer.
A new frontier has now been explored, by all who came out to witness the Inspiration West 2004 Conference on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.
The most intriguing conference of it’s kind took place in a unique setting- aboard, the RMS Queen Mary, famed for it’s 1001 voyages across the North Atlantic. The ship was once deemed as “The Inevitable Ship” and also “The Grey Ghost” for her pivotal position during the second world war. This majestic vessel, with her Cunard Red smokestacks raised high into the air, remains sentry to the town of Long Beach, California, and has been moored there since the 1960′s.
The venue may have had something to do with the uniqueness of the conference, however therein lay a bewildering realization: a building fraught with history became home to a conference that is making history.
The Inspiration Conference has always been regarded as a peculiar gathering in the trade conference sector, catering to a distinctive market. It began as the first conference of it’s kind- the only conference designed specifically for churches, that effectively deals with technology for use in worship.
One could say that the people who get the most out of the sessions and programs offered at an Inspiration Conference, are the ones who are otherwise meant to be invisible throughout the rest of the year.
Inspiration is a forum for anyone who works ‘behind the scenes’ during every service for their church. It is for techies, musicians, programmers, purchasers, designers, creators, and so on. Essentially it is for the people who work their hardest to make sure the folks filling the pews don’t even notice they are there, much less notice the work these people put into making sure everyone in the congregation has an exceptional worship experience.
Seminars offered for attendees ranged from basic to advanced, covering topics which touched on real issues for tech worship people; technical topic goodies like DSP, Multi-Channel Audio, DMX Lighting Console Workshops, Video Editing and more. There were also topics which appropriately addressed team building, selecting contractors, communication, leadership and dealing with burnout – basically there was something for everyone at this event.
Attendees of Inspiration West soon discovered that the venue, the seminars, the worship service, the entire conference, was organized to give all the behind-the-scenes folks a chance to really experience, learn, grow and worship together.
On the Tuesday night of the conference, again exemplifying the vibe of “history meets high tech”, a worship service/concert was held in one of the more opulent salons.
Jay Delp, mild-mannered video editor for TFWM, was the host of the celebration, and started the evening out with a series of graphic clips and music he had compiled which effectively set the tone. He then gave the floor over to representatives from Roland, Aviom, and Yamaha, to talk about their company’s increasing involvement with the church community.
Following this, Holland Davis and his band led worship, which truly brought the right perspective to the conference- showing why everyone was there. Of course, the setup was conducted on Yamaha, Roland, Aviom and Peavey musical gear, complete with Robe show lighting and other components; needless to say it was a good looking show. Lighting setup was conducted by the team from EIDIM, a production company made up of great Christian folks located in California. Extra PA equipment was brought in by Zeta Music and Cornerstone Media.
Overall, the service was a phenomenal experience, because it gave attendees a chance to worship, instead of having to worry about working the gear. They could comfortably leave all of the production details up to other people for a change.
The conference also included two days worth of top line exhibits on the Wednesday and Thursday of the week, featuring leading edge companies who are keen on supporting the church community. Attendees had a chance to speak one on one with manufacturers, contractors and consultants about their specific projects. It gave people an opportunity to use some of what they had learned during the seminars to carry on educated discussions involving what equipment they should be considering for their productions. It was also a chance to see and play with some of the newest technical toys on the market today.
The exhibit floor was home to several sleek hands-on technical sessions, including lighting mixing workshops, presentation software comparisons, Apple Computer workshops, sound operator clinics, and more. The hands-on experience was essential for the registrants, providing an opportunity to test drive products that they may not have had a chance to try out. Usually, clinics and educational content such as this costs a fair amount, however the Inspiration exhibit floor was free with pre-registration.
The topper was the Gear Giveaway- which was conducted throughout the course of the exhibit hours. Every hour, a series of products were given away to attendees who were on the floor. Over $20,000.00 was given away- in the form of some very cool products. The winners went away with rather large smiles on their faces- and rightly so, just by being a part of the conference, they got to return home with a brand new toy to start using at their church right away.
Overall, for the first run on the west coast, this conference was a success- providing attendees with the full package; education, networking, experience and yes, inspiration. Next year, Inspiration will be going back to the west, with plans to grow and improve, making the event the best it can be for everyone involved. Keep watching for details on the venue and the dates in this magazine and online at www.tfwm.com
As far as ship/conference references go, and with this being the maiden voyage, the TFWM crew is exceedingly pleased, and ready to explore uncharted territories.