Initial reaction to the Evangel Temple's new building can be summarized in one word: Wow.
"That's what everybody says when they first walk into the sanctuary," said Hallie Phillips, who selected carpeting, window treatments, seating and other furnishings for the multi-million dollar 100,000-square-foot structure.
"I've watched this project for six years, and when everything started coming together I came in here and went, 'Oh, my God'" said Phillips, looking around the massive room as though it was again her first time seeing it.
Just as overwhelming are the sounds and sights that can be heard and seen throughout the building: the heavy pounding and drilling from construction workers in every direction; frequent sound checks of the state-of-the-art sound system; and testing and retesting of equipment for flying effects.
All the hustling and bustling are part of final preparations for a three-day Easter Worship Service at the new church that begins Friday with healing service and culminates Sunday with a luncheon.
Six years in the making
Evangel Temple's new building was a necessity, said Mike Boles, pastor of the church located on Skyland Drive on Highway 145S.
"About 10 years ago, the drama part of our church was packed out, we had to turn people away. And then our church services began to pack out," Boles said. "We needed a bigger church."
Groundbreaking for the new building took place on Jan. 19, 2004.
"We began with the foundation and paid for it, then the steel work and we paid for it. Before we got in debt, we had that paid for," he said.
It took four years to complete the groundwork and framing. Funding for the project was provided through tithes and offerings from Evangel Temple's 500-plus members.
"Our goal was to pay in a set amount, then borrow the rest. The rest will be paid out in short order; we're believing for a miracle," Boles said. "Our church members are very generous and they see the vision of this."
The finished product features four buildings: nursery/Sunday school classes; a two-level main sanctuary with 3,000-seat capacity; administrative/Sunday School; kitchen area. The dining hall is under the staging area.
sound and effect
Because the drama productions are a major part of Evangel Temple's ministry, they were a big consideration in the design and even the decor of the new building.
"I started choosing the fabric for the sanctuary's pews three years ago," Phillips said. "We had to give careful consideration to that this is a sanctuary/theater. For a theater, the colors have to be a different hue for the lighting to work properly; so I had to work within those perimeters, which made it a little difficult."
Unlike the bright colors used in most houses of worship, Evangel Temple features muted tones. The sanctuary's carpet is navy, the pews are navy with a muted teal and green, walls are a muted sage green and the wood for the pews is mahogany toned.
"It's a warm feeling, not dark," Phillips said.
The walls to the side of the stage have three columns, with scenes from the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.) featured between.
Flooring for the large stage was ordered from Canada and is conducive to sound effect and movement. Two massive white columns are balanced on each side of the stage.
The ironwork – handrails for the entrance, double-spiral stairs and a matching 9-foot four-tiered chandelier with 82 lights – were designed by Terry Plummer of Partridge Ornamental Iron. Plummer credits his workers with much of the creativity in designing the ironwork.
A state-of-the-art all digital sound/lighting/video system was masterminded through a partnership with Peavey Electronics and Clarity Solutions of Huntsville, Ala.
"It features an all-digital mixing board, a relatively new technology," said Charlie Anderson of Clarity Solutions. "This is world-class technical amenities here at Evangel; you don't find anything like this in a lot of places."
Another unique feature for the church's theatrical productions is flying effects. Six systems – four manual, which do all the lifting and travel by hand, and two fully automated – were designed and installed by Halls Associates Flying Effects out of Illinois.
"They are all generated by motors and integrated into a computer system," said Jeremiah Lewis, flying director for the company. "It's capable of holding 2,000 pounds, but we recommend no more than a 200-pound individual for flying."
The former church building will be used for Children's Church and youth productions.
The new church building will not only allow Evangel Temple to accommodate its growing congregation, but also audiences for its theatrical productions.
"We no longer will have to turn anybody away because we don't have enough room," Boles said. "We built this to have the church and the drama combined; we hope to incorporate the dramas into the church services."
And the church will be open to the community for special events. Meridian Community College is scheduled to have their spring commencement exercises at the church.
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