Return and Renewal Project

Watch this page...each week we will add a new reflection about this project from a different perspective. What is the liturgical reasoning behind this project? How does this work from an architectural point of view? How will this enhance all of our worship, including the 8:00 and 9:00 Masses on Sunday, daily Mass, and special liturgies?

Almost a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Atonement and other religious institutions into the world of digital worship.  Even though we are now more hopeful that our lives could return to normal in the not-too-distant future, the need for live streaming and playback of church services is not expected to go away post-pandemic. 


Digital worship presents a new ministry opportunity to bring the love of Christ and the warmth of Atonement to a broader audience – members of our own parish who are unable to attend live services due to health reasons, and even to people beyond the physical boundaries of our Edgewater community.  And while Zoom has been a valuable tool that has allowed us to broadcast services and feel connected to one another during the pandemic, it is really a business meeting platform and not intended for live stream broadcasting.  Further, the tool is not very inviting to outsiders who would like to attend services, since attendees must be provided an advance link in order to participate.  Concerns over security prohibit broad sharing of the links to the general public. 


Earlier this year, Mother Erika put together a committee to investigate the feasibility of purchasing and installing audio-visual equipment that would improve the quality of our digital services and allow us to reach a larger online audience.  Discussions with committee members and outside consultants revealed some additional changes that could be made in the church to enhance both our in-person and online worship, which are outlined below.



New Audio-Visual Equipment

Our audio-visual consultant has recommended that two cameras be installed at the back of the church in the gallery (balcony) and one camera on the north wall of the church above the crossing and facing the Mary Shrine.  A computer console will be installed in the gallery where an operator can “direct” the three cameras.  The rear cameras can alternate to different views of the reader, the altar, the preacher, etc. while the third camera can focus on the Mary Shrine, the baptismal font, the procession, the congregation, etc.  The system utilizes our current audio system and does not require any significant electrical work or hardwiring of equipment.  It also allows pre-recorded media to be incorporated into a live stream broadcast.


Relocation of Choir and Organ Console

Even prior to the pandemic, there have been discussions about a desire to someday move the organ console and choir to the chancel where they would be closer to the pipes and eliminate the delay in sound that currently occurs between the pipes up front and the choir in the back.   Now the installation of the A-V equipment presents the church with an opportunity to make this change sooner versus later.  The optimal location of the A-V computer console is in the gallery.  However, the gallery is already too small for the entire choir, with many sitting on the stairs when not singing.  So improved sound quality and lack of space in the gallery are two reasons for returning the organ console and choir to the chancel as originally configured.  You will hear about other benefits in subsequent articles about this project.    



Cost and Timing

The cost of this project is surprisingly low, about $7,100 to purchase and install the audio-visual equipment and $3,600 to move the organ console.  Anonymous donors have offered to pay for the entire project, so it will not impact the 2021 church operating budget.   The committee’s goal is to have the equipment installed and the organ console moved by Palm Sunday, so we will be able to benefit from these improvements during our Holy Week services. 


The Vestry unanimously approved moving forward with this project at the February 14 meeting.  In the coming weeks, you will hear from different team members regarding their perspectives on this exciting new project and the benefits we can look forward to.    So, more to come….



The Return and Renewal Project Team

Dave Beil, Greg Bradley, Ron Fox, Richard Kieckhefer, Liz Sarnik, Charlie Sega, The Rev'd Erika Takacs, Chris Windle, and Bill Hancox (Chair).

For more information on the Return and Renewal Project:

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5749 N Kenmore Avenue

Chicago, Illinois 60660


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