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Cheney UCC installs high-tech projection system

Replacing seasonal banners that once hung on the wall behind the pulpit at Cheney UCC is a 540-pound, half-inch thick glass screen, mounted in a new wall, located to receive images back-projected from behind the new wall.  A 220-pound mirror mounted at a 45-degree angle reflects the images onto the screen.

cheney ucc

Cheney UCC’s projection system was ready for use by Christmas.

For a year since the Rev. David Krueger-Duncan came last February to serve Cheney UCC three-fourths time, he has projected text and images on a pull-up screen at the center of the chancel as he has preached his sermons.

After serving a UCC church in Argusville, N.D., from 1996 to 2001, he began preaching with slides while serving Northwest Community Church, a new congregation in Las Vegas, Nev., from 2001 to 2011. 

That church had a 3,300 lumen VGA quality projector and various screens as the church grew.  Cheney’s new projector has HDTV quality with a 7,800 lumen projector.

David and 15 men in the Cheney UCC, plus Cheney Glass, combined their construction skills to frame the wall to hold the screen and to move the screen with sensitive optical coating on one side through the church doors at an angle and lift it into place with come-along hand winches.

Both in Las Vegas and while serving as interim at First Congregational UCC in Elkhart, Ind., before coming to Cheney, he found that use of images helped people increase their retention of his sermons.

“People who like a preached sermon are not wowed, but those who were bored by the spoken word alone like it,” David said.

“Teachers know that if they present information in more than one media, more information will be retained,” he said.  “That’s true with a sermon, too.

“It allows me to preach without notes, because the notes are on the screen, and I can see them in the laptop on the front pew.  I preach from below the chancel steps, rather than in the pulpit, so I see the current slide and the one that’s coming up, rather than running my finger down the side of the text.  I am able to have eye contact with people in the congregation.  I can move around and I’m closer to people,” he said.

It’s not an easier way to prepare sermons, he said. Sermon preparation begins Sunday.  He writes the sermon, distills paragraphs to phrases for slides and then finds relevant images. 

The congregation voted unanimously at its annual meeting last July to do the project.

Now that the $33,000 projection system has been installed and was first used during Advent in time for the children’s Christmas program, David said that he and the church have used it for more than the sermon.

While many assume such a screen is designed to attract younger, multi-media-minded people, it has provided a “quantum step forward” in visual and audio quality, which can mean retention of people in older generations for longer as eyesight and hearing fails, he said. 

“We wanted the image to be large enough so words would be easy to read from the back pew and far enough away from the front pew so people there would not look up at an awkward angle,” David said.

So the church consulted with Dave Stewart, audio-visual systems designer at Eastern Washington University, who figured the engineering details to set up the system.

It eliminates people struggling to read print in hymn books and bulletins.

Use of Telecoil audio technology provides clarity of sound that is better for people with hearing aids, David said.  It amplifies the sound going into the microphone and transmits it directly to a person’s hearing aid, which can be set as a radio receptor. 

“It eliminates static and distortions fall out, so people do not hear a baby crying next to them, but hear the sound transmitted,” he said.  “It is concert-grade sound without someone sitting at a control panel.”

People can also use a personal speaker in a receiver in a loose bolo tie they can hang around their necks.

In addition, the overall sound is clearer.

With the new system, the church will be able to do movies and TV programs for the  church and community.

For example, the church was considering how to make the campus safer for its preschool and Sunday school.

They learned Cheney has a resource person available.  On Feb. 17, Tim Walters, EWU’s police chief and director of public safety, presented a program for people from schools and other churches on how to make school and church buildings safer.  His training includes a 15-minute video.

David told of other “ministry values” of the system.  For example, the screen is used throughout worship to project the call to worship, responsive readings, prayers, Scriptures and hymns.  That means the order of worship in the bulletin is just one page, saving paper.

“I no longer look out and see 60 to 80 heads tilting down, but see people with chins up, singing hymns.  There is a larger sound,” David said. 

Slides shown before worship tell about the local and wider church. 

For several months, he has been showing slides with text and images from the website about “UCC Firsts.”

“It’s important for the congregation to realize that the UCC has distinctions in areas of justice and equality.  We show slides to uplift our history of living values before they were popular,” David said.

Among the UCC Firsts, are an early stand against slavery; participation in integrated anti-slavery societies; ordination of women and African-American pastors. 

A 1959 UCC Office of Communication lawsuit challenged a TV news blackout in the South on the civil rights movement.  A federal court ruled airwaves are public, not private property. 

Another slide tells of the UCC standing in solidarity with Cesar Chavez’s efforts for farm workers in California.

David said that the projection system keeps people engaged and educated.

For information, call 509-235-4193 or email


February March 2014 © Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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