The New Faith Baptist Church represents a new approach in the design of large, contemporary, multi-media driven worship facilities by integrating daylight to elevate the worship experience. The church seamlessly integrates technology to support multiple forms of worship and extend the reach of a rapidly growing African-American congregation.
WFM Staff · October 1, 2016
The New Faith Baptist Church Worship Center represents a new approach in the design of large, contemporary, multi-media driven worship facilities by integrating daylight to elevate the worship experience.
This grew out of the pastors desire to integrate daylight in both the sanctuary and foyer. Through careful design and digital modeling, Harding Partners was able to incorporate daylight into the space while preserving the quality of the theatrical lighting and digital projection systems. The curved public façade is screened with a suspended sunshade that changes profile in response to the solar orientation. Solid portions of the exterior are clad in a specular metal panel that captures the changing character of sky.
Worship Center (New Faith Baptist Church)
Project Size: 2001+ seats
Completion Date: August 21, 2016
The foyer beyond is filled with light diffused through the sunscreen and skylight above. In the sanctuary, a continuous skylight fills the space with daylight filtered through the coffered ceiling. In each case, the light becomes a dynamic element changing in color and quality throughout the day making a tangible connection between the congregation and Creator.
An important part of the church’s vision for the project was the desire for a worship space that had superb natural acoustics with advanced audio and visual technology. The Worship Center seamlessly integrates technology to support multiple forms of worship and extend the reach of a rapidly growing African-American congregation, by allowing individuals to find the one that speaks to them most clearly. The flexible platform, theatrical lighting, and musician’s area adapt to the needs of oration, musical performance, and dramatic presentation.
A full-immersion pool is elevated behind the platform to communicate the importance of baptism in the congregation. Large rear-projection screens capture the nuance of physical expression of the pastor and choir. A front-of-house control booth, overhead lighting catwalk, and optimal camera locations enable a high level of production value. Live and recorded services are produced in an in-house production center and broadcast over the radio, television, and internet enhancing the global impact of the Church.
Harding Partners also recognized the congregations need for not just a larger space but a more inspirational worship space than their existing multi-purpose room. The Church interior builds a spiritual intensity by engaging multiple senses. Finish materials bring a range of texture and color activating the sense of touch. Wood accent panels, rich fabrics, and daylight bring a sense of warmth to the space.
The faceted sanctuary walls compose these materials in a rhythmic pattern of color and texture inspired by the strong musical tradition of the Church. The coffered ceiling, absorptive materials, and the engineered sound system deliver natural-sounding acoustics that reinforce the connection between the congregation and the message across multiple media types. The 2,300-seat sanctuary maintains a sense of intimacy with a balcony that draws congregants closer to the pulpit. The fan-shaped seating reinforces a sense of community by allowing everyone to see and interact with fellow worshipers.
The building announces the welcoming presence of the active and engaged faith community with an open façade along the adjacent highway. At night, the transparency of the façade is intensified as the warm glow from inside creates an inviting face of the building.
The extended entry canopy provides a sheltered space for informal gathering and fellowship along the foyer. Once inside, the public functions of the Church—including a bookstore, greeting center, and meeting rooms—are arrayed to welcome newcomers. Casual seating areas can be reconfigured with table seating for formal receptions and celebrations, expanding opportunities for fellowship.
Sustainable design elements conserve both natural and financial resources. The site plan preserves an existing wetland by filtering stormwater runoff before it reaches the natural area protecting an important habitat for migratory birds. The sun screen, skylights, and daylight sensor controlled lighting reduce the energy consumed for mechanical lighting as well as the related cooling load.
A demand ventilation and heat recovery system minimize the energy consumed to provide ventilation in the worship space. Combined with basic strategies such as added insulation, the sustainable design measures reduce energy costs by 20% allowing more of the operating budget to be used for ministry instead of utility costs.
The Worship Center demonstrates that the multi-media technology used by contemporary churches can be seamlessly integrated into a composition of light, color, and texture to elevate the worship experience and expand the reach of a congregation. It gives the community their place to connect to each other by accommodating larger crowds and to those outside their community by being able broadcasting their services while not sacrificing the sanctity of the experience by cutting themselves off from the outside.
The Worship Center has been well-received by the congregation and broader community. The Church has experienced a 20% growth in attendance since opening and worship services are now broadcast in over 140 countries.