Le Maitre Products at First Baptist Church
By Dale Prather
Faith Baptist Church in LaGrange, GA, just celebrated our 40th anniversary in January, and has been in the same location for almost the whole time. We’ve seen some recent growth in the last few months, and average roughly 700 people at worship every weekend. We currently run one service on Sunday mornings, in a blended worship style. We have a choir of about 60 people that does choral arrangements, but we also have a contemporary worship band of six that performs as well. With the variety of different people we have at our church, the ‘melting pot’ standard works well for us; our worship serves traditional to contemporary in equal measure, and it makes our worship stronger for it. The breakdown within our church in age range allows our blended worship to work well across all age groups; and our respect for tradition combined with our love of contemporary crosses boundaries and manifests itself in a deep respect for all types of worship. As one body, we worship together the same way we do all week. We sometimes take our worship for granted, but we do understand how special our church family is; keeping a strong focus on the Lord leads us along the way. For years, Faith Baptist has run both a large theatrical Easter program called “He’s Alive”, and an outdoor fall program called “Judgment Journey” that runs through the month of October.
Our Easter presentation was written by our church, and follows the events leading into Easter. We’ve been presenting “He’s Alive” since 1991 (with a three year hiatus while we restructured a few things with our buildings as well as ministries within the church), and we’ve been using Le Maitre special effects to help augment the performances. We currently use three of the same Le Maitre Pea Souper units for dry ice effects. We have two that are mounted in the second story above the stage to provide cloud effects, with the third mounted on the floor behind a rock wall structure. The one on the floor is used to great affect when the rock of the tomb is rolled away for our resurrection scene during “He’s Alive” and on Easter Sunday. We also use these hanging machines to create a special effects fog when we fly in an angel for when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, during a big scene with a storm that comes in during the Crucifixion, and also during the Ascension. Having the fog effect really adds to the drama of our presentations; it gives us a heavy fog/cloud look that dissipates easily when not needed, but can be used with lighting to create a really impactful look during the performances. Since the fog is so heavy, lighting it creates a really interesting effect those amps up the drama. We also have built two really large dry ice machines to help supplement the Pea Soupers when needed; they provide more of a stage fog wash, with the three Le Maitre products being used as the specialist effects for really targeted, dramatic looks.
Judgment Journey was first produced by our church in 1997, and runs Friday and Saturday nights in October, typically for five weeks. Judgment Journey is a 45-minute walk through the end times as found in the Book of Revelation. We got the idea for doing a large fall drama ministry from a church in Atlanta that was doing something similar; we felt we could do something similar in our neck of the woods that would serve our area. We typically see 15,000-20,000 people come through for that event. Judgment Journey takes place outdoors, and the event starts with a plane crash – which we reset every performance – and really pushes the envelope with the pyrotechnics and special effects. We use two different kinds of theatrical flashes – one with a louder report, which is mounted on car and simulates the noise / flash of the plane crashing, and we also have a fire pit.
During Judgment Journey’s open plane crash scene, we also use a Mini Gerb, which puts out a plume of electrical sparks to simulate a live wire falling onto a car, and colored smoke inside the plane for the effect of the crash – all three of these effects are used in the opening scene. Le Maitre’s Mortar Hit – which simulates a bomb, with a fire/flash look and displays about 15 feet high – is used for a different scene later in the play. Flash reports simulate a big explosion we use in conjunction with the Mortarhit to give us the sound we need.
We consider the equipment that we use from Le Maitre as a necessity – they are great partners for our events. The equipment they offer is always reliable, and provides us with the looks we need to really make both our Easter presentation and Judgment Journey the best they can be. Our Easter event is always free, but there is a small fee for Judgement Journey in the fall to help cover some of our costs. We have about 250 people who help out with He’s Alive, and 250-350 people who help with Judgment Journey every year, so it really does take a huge team to run both presentations to the best of our ability.
You can tell people a story, but if you can also show them the story, everything is just reinforced. The Le Maitre special effects have been a staple we’ve used for years to help us achieve the excellence in our story telling we desire, and we couldn’t be happier.
DALE PRATHER IS A JESUS FOLLOWER, HUSBAND TO HOLLY, FATHER TO NATHAN AND NOLAN, AND ASSOCIATE PASTOR AT FAITH BAPTIST CHURCH. I’VE DIRECTED JUDGMENT JOURNEY SINCE 2009 AND MAKE UP PART OF THE TEAM OF DIRECTORS FOR HE’S ALIVE.