One of the most often heard comments about Perimeter Church (www.perimeter.org) in Duluth, Georgia is that they’ve figured out how to ‘go deep.’
“The core of our whole ministry is discipleship,” explains John Purcell, Staff Director. “This starts from kindergarten and goes through adulthood. We want hearts engaged in Jesus and the gospel, then to connect them with people who will enter into relationships with them and grow them in Christ.”
“The price is that discipleship isn’t done through programs or en masse. It is a messy ministry that takes a lot of leadership development. It is easy to have a ‘front door’ ministry. Much harder to have life-on-life discipleship.”
This is especially true with students.
The Senior High ministry at Perimeter is called “Watershed.” A watershed experience is a turning point. High school is a time students make defining choices. Perimeter needed a space that would encourage positive, faith and relationship-building experiences during this critical time in a student’s life.
To meet this need, Perimeter embarked on a $13 million dollar expansion project that includes a new student center for junior and senior high students called “The Bricks”. The facility consists of a coffee house (The Shed), cantina (Cliff Hanger Caf), rock wall (students must have a signed waiver form to climb), game room and an 800-seat auditorium (The Hanger.)
“As we’ve grown as a church, it has become more important to us to give ourselves away,” continues Purcell. “We’re trying to figure out how we can utilize our facilities to serve our community. About a year before the facility opened, we began training our kids that the space wasn’t just for their enjoyment. They now have ownership in the idea that it is an investment to reach out to their friends.”
The center’s hours of operation are posted on school bulletin boards and in activity centers so that it draws people from beyond the normal reach of the church. “You don’t have to come in on the arm of a student who is a member here. One week we had 150 first-time visitors to the centerwhich is great!” Purcell elaborated.
In order for the center to be open more than just Sunday mornings, the church hired David Franklin to manage it full-time. David’s background is in running Christian coffee houses. (The youth at Perimeter claim David’s coffee beats the local chains in the area any day.) Offices for David and ministry staff are integrated into the layout of the center with glass windows so that staff can supervise and are easily accessible to students.
Perimeter worked with CDH Partners (www.cdhpartners.com) on the design of the space which has a very industrial look and feel. Purcell and the student ministry pastors visited Hunter Street Church in Birmingham. “It really raised our vision for what a youth center could be.”
Large overhead glass “garage” doors separate the spaces. They can be closed for more intimacy or opened up to create a wide space.
Basketball cages and a rock climbing wall are part of the recreational activities. Video games, Christian rock music, and television monitors all add to the space designed for a technology-savvy generation.
Acoustic Dimensions (www.acousticdimensions.com) was hired to design the audio and video systems. For Robert Rose, project manager for AD, this was his third project with Perimeter Church.
“As we talked with the church and CDH Partners in the early design phases, there was a desire for the space to be a little different. The church wanted something more than a flat floor, ‘barn’ type of space,” Rose illustrates, speaking about the Hanger auditorium.
The rear and sides of the room are raised about 3 feet creating a second level. Inspiration came from a non-church venue. “Randy Pope and I went to a Jim Collins seminar at the Carter Presidential Center,” says Purcell. “The room was on two levels which provided an amazing dynamic.”
Nick Edwards of AD took the idea and ran with it. The church wanted the flexibility of being able to use both portable seating and tables, so the floor couldn’t be sloped or stepped. The original idea was to create connection between the front and back of the room with retractable seating, but actually what has happened is that the church has embraced the two-level concept. It makes the space unique.
The sound system in the room was driven by equipment that the church already owned. EAW MQ1364’s, MQTD812,s & MK cabinets were used in the gym space. As the requirements of the gym for a performance oriented space decreased, we were left with the opportunity of reusing equipment that was still relatively young. We had to revise the digital signal processing and routing to accommodate a room that was much wider in order to reuse the equipment.
Due to a recent upgrade of the main sanctuary sound system, (by the same team from Acoustic Dimensions and Peerson Audio), the original speakers were sitting unused and were able to be reconfigured to meet the program requirements for the gym.
“It really speaks to the longevity of the EAW equipment that we were able to successfully reuse the speakers,” says Rose.
“One of the nice things is that we have a venue with some intimacy, yet the sound system can get up and run. A key design criteria was to have systems that could be volunteer-run yet still meet the needs of groups such as Third Day and Switchfoot. As far as concert riders go, we can satisfy most everyone’s needs without any trouble, yet volunteers can be very effective with little staff supervision,” explains Rick Stauder, Technical Manager at Perimeter.
“The project has actually encompassed far more than the Bricks. We’ve been through almost a two year process in bringing uniformity to the spaces. We’ve switched to all Allen & Heath boards to facilitate operation. In the Hangar, we are using the Allen & Heath ML4000 48-input as the front of house mixing console. The monitor mix is on an Allen & Heath GL4000M.”
We spent about a year training a dozen students on the Allen & Heath boards in other spaces in preparation for the opening. The best part is when they get out of the high school ministry, it is a seemless transition to work with me in the big room,” Stauder continues.
Additionally, there are two Mackie-SP800S the rest of the ceiling speakers are Mackie SP400C or Soundtube RS55i.
The control booth is in the center of the room and is slightly oversized to allow for some congregation of future a/v/l techs. Audio equipment includes a Yamaha-SPX2000, Digital Multi-effects processor 24 bit,96khz, two Tascam-CD-A700, CD/Cassette Combos and two Tascam-CD-RW2000, CD Recorder/ Duplicators, two Ashly-PQX-572, Stereo Parametric Equalizers and an Ashly-LX-308, 8 Input Stereo/16 in Mono-Line Mixer. The DSP is the Peavey X-Frame and amplifiers are QSC.
Peerson Audio ( www.peersonaudio.com ) provided the installation of the a/v systems in the space.
“I would love to give huge accolades to Peerson Audio,” Stauder encourages. “This has been my sixth project with them. They have unparalleled craftsmanship.”
There is equipment to support image magnification video (IMAG) such as a Folsom Research-Presentation Pro, Seamless Video Switcher, two EXTRON-VSC 500, High Resolution Computer To Video Scan Converters, an EXTRON-MSW 4V, and a Four Input Composite Switcher.
There are two Stewart-AT2165HLF18, 13′-9.25″ Diag (1.78:1) projection screens in the room.
“We provided a bit of creative engineering for the housing of the rear projection video. There was no space for a projection room, so we developed a pipe and drape system solution onsite,” explains Allen Peerson, Principal of Peerson Audio. “We built a pyramid of 1.5″ schedule 40 aluminum tubing covered with black combat cloth to block the light from the back of the rear projection screens. Each SANYO-PLC-XF31NL, 5200 Lumens XGA video projector is mounted in the apex of the pyramid. We gave free access underneath the projection cone to use as stage space. This saved the client money because there was no architectural implication.”
“The video just looks dead sexy! The new boxes are just so bright and sharp,” says Stauder.
Peerson had a crew of six people onsite for about three weeks to install systems in both the Bricks and the children’s rooms. “We really love working with the people at Perimeter. They are a very knowledgeable client. The most challenging part of the project was keeping our crew off the rock climbing wall,” Peerson quipped.
“The room is used for so many different things that we wanted a high degree of flexibility built into the system,” explains Russell Reid of AD. “We specified an ETC system with a Grand MA ultra light lighting board to up the ‘cool quotient’ on the platform. We wanted the capability to create looks that would appeal to teens.” Reid designed a pipe grid over the stage to give multiple options for lighting and rigging.
AD provided lighting services including power, accommodations and distribution, then relied on Bandit Lights (www.banditlites.com) of Nashville for installation and commissioning. Stauder says that their technical staff has had a great time unleashing their creativity in the lighting design.
The architectural lighting was created to add intimacy to the space. “The industrial look is great, but it would be easy for the space to feel open and empty. We wanted the architectural lighting to enhance the mood for conversation in the space,” Reid remarks.
“We really want the kids in the community to feel ownership of the space,” offers Purcell. “The message from Perimeter Church is ‘This is here for you. Come anytime you want.”