The Art of Lighting Churches

Every venue in need of new lighting comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. This is especially true for churches, spaces that require special attention to accessibility, consistency, and visual simplicity. ETC sat down with Chris Rynne, OCS Lighting + Control’s Director of Theatrical Applications, to talk about the nuanced considerations that arise when lighting houses of worship—and why ETC’s ColorSource line and Multiverse®  have become the backbone of so many church systems.

Orange-County-Churches-MAIN3Many churches offer the unique challenge of featuring elaborate interior architecture, which is when City Theatrical Wireless DMX Multiverse transmitters and ETC ColorSource fixtures with Multiverse receivers become invaluable. This was exactly the case at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Santee, California. “Saint Paul’s is a beautiful Episcopal cathedral, and it’s all concrete,” says Rynne. “It has an old gothic cathedral feel on the inside, and there’s no good place to run any kind of extra cabling. We wanted to minimize any visual clutter in this beautiful space. Power requirements for ColorSource LED fixtures are minimal, and with Multiverse Wireless DMX – Bam, we were done.”

“I’ve installed Multiverse in countless churches, and never once gotten a call about the system failing. In a church environment, the best surprises are no surprises, and the consistency of Multiverse lets worship leaders keep their minds off technology and on their service.”

Orange-County-Churches-MAIN2-1Most houses of worship don’t have in-house lighting experts to handle the technical side of things and dealing with specialty equipment can quickly overwhelm. “You don’t want to intimidate a user, right?” Rynne tells ETC, noting the importance of empowering church staff. “They want to walk up to the console or touchscreen and be capable.” With a little help from ETC’s architectural control touch screens and the simple design of the ColorSource line of fixtures anyone can feel equipped to run a beautifully lit service.

“With a touchscreen, you can have all that stuff programmed nicely so that you can understand it at a glance. You can have a little snippet of text on the touch screen’s face next to the button, explaining what the look is for and what they can expect from it.” 

With ETC’s tech support hotline only a call away, churches can elevate their services with ambitious lighting schemes without fear of getting in over their heads. “That’s always something that we tell them when we’re getting things set up--if you ever have an issue, a friendly person from Wisconsin will be calling you in 15 minutes”.


To honor a space even further, Rynne pointed out the importance of the color of the fixtures. Beyond the standard black, white, and silver fixtures, sometimes it pays to get creative. At the Immaculata Church at the University of San Diego the chapel is full of tan marble. To help the lighting fixtures blend in, Rynne had the bodies of the Source Four fixtures painted like the stonework. “They really do match the color!” says Rynne. “I’m the only one to notice that those lights are up there.” Sometimes the smallest details can make all the difference!

With the simplicity of ColorSource lights and the reliability of the Wireless DMX Multiverse, it’s easier than ever for churches to develop beautifully lit worship environments.

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