Easter Sunday 2011

This is not quite as elaborate as some years past. The key thing here is that we had 6 crosses hanging from the ceiling 3 on either side of the screen. And we used a series of raised platforms with the band that helped us utilize the space on our stage much better for the band. There was WAY more room than what we usually have on Easter.
The center piece is a stone representing the stone where they lay Jesus and was discovered empty on Easter morning. The service started out with some actor Marys approaching the stone and a video and all that Jazz. The stone itself is made of foam and was hacked, burned, and painted to look like this by our friends from Zeeland Record. We still have it in storage.

Lord's Prayer - Stations

This was done in our lobby for Lent this year (2011). We had an Ash Wednesday service that was centered around the Lord's Prayer. People left the sanctuary half way through the service and went on a prayer walk across the church where we had these stations in the alcoves of the hallway. Each station consisted of a phrase of the prayer, an abstract painting, a plaque describing the meaning of the phrase, and a (heavily photoshopped) photograph (taken by me). I picked up the lumber at Home Depot on sale, and had an artistic person in our church paint the words on them. Then they were cut up and hung in the hallways. A separate person did the end of the prayer (which you can see in the picture they're different). We wanted to separate the end of the prayer from the rest of it. We still have all the materials for this including the photos.

Advent 2010, The Enchanted Forest

A little too Dr. Sues?  That's what we were afraid of when we put it up, but we never had a bad comment from a congregation member about it.  In fact, one family asked if they could go up and take their family Christmas photo in front of it.  We intentionally went as far away as possible from the 17 fake Christmas trees we had the year before.  This was a much easier setup.  Each tree is made of foam core and the color and patterns were printed on at local printing/design shop Zeeland Record.  It turned out to be the best, most light-weight material for the job.  Little plywood triangles were glued to the back bottom of each tree for standing up, and they were sitting on boxes and things for varying height.  Then we wove some white fabric and lights around the bases of them.  The backdrop is wood frame construction painted solid white (we've used these walls many times before).
The only downside I'll mention is that a complicated stage design usually means less room for the band, and this was the most cramped we've ever been.  Some people had to climb over set pieces just to get to their 1 square foot of standing space.  We went to a very blank stage after this :)

Easter 2010

This setup looks very similar to what we did with the art cross in 2009.  The big cross in the middle was painted by an artist in our church years ago, and now brought back for Easter.  Fabric was pinned to the back of the cross and bunched up and pinned to the walls.  Little lighting advice - put colored light on fabric (ie red light on red fabric) and it really stands out!  Our lighting guy taught me that.  A little overkill on the flowers?  Yes :)  But hey it's Easter.  Our middle school ministry does a fund raiser where the congregation orders these flower pots, and they magically show up right before Easter, and the congregation magically takes them away after Easter.  So we don't spend a dime on the flowers.  It's brilliant.  And in case you didn't catch it, that cross you can see part of in the upper left was left from Advent 2009 where it was in the shadow of the star.  Little details probably nobody notices much.

Easter 2009 Art Cross

Okay, a little explanation here.  For Lent 2009, our theme was "A journey of sorrows" how Jesus journey to the cross was full of tears and how it was all changed by the resurrection.  An artist in our church did this sketch, and basically what happened is we chopped it up into 6 separate paintings and had some engineers in our church design an aluminum frame that was built to hold all the paintings together to look like this.  So why 6 separate paintings you ask?  The first week of lent started out at the bottom (each painting pertaining to the sermon for the week - washing Jesus' feet, garden of Gethsemane, etc..), then the next week a piece of the frame, and the next painting was added.  Then right after the sermon during the last song, the artist would come on stage and paint the tear of the painting adding a splash of color.  The last week was the middle of the cross (Maundy Thursday - the big eye with a tear).  On Easter the whole thing was put in the middle of the stage with backlit colored fabric draped behind.  Here's the end result.

It was super complicated to put together, but worth it.  People were very skeptical at first not knowing where it was going, but once they saw a cross take shape, it took on a lot of meaning.  We still have the paintings, but the aluminum frame was borrowed material, so we don't have that anymore :(

Back to Fake Trees, Advent 2009

Looking ahead to Advent 2009, we thought, "last year we went away from the Christmas tree look, let's go back".  And yes 17 fake Christmas trees by my count existed in our storage closet.  I put out a church wide, week long Christmas tree assembly/decorating event the week of Thanksgiving for anybody and everybody to come in and put up some trees.  Oddly enough, the youth group ended up putting 90% of these together (thanks Tom Greenwald/Youth Director at the time).  We also had these "gobos" they call them, to put in some of our can lights that project shapes of light on the walls, ie wise men and angel.  So back to the Macy's look I guess, for this year.  we made an executive decision never to do that many Christmas trees again - way too stressful to find the help :(
Also note we covered our spandex star with gold fabric to make it more "kingly", and we spent a good hour putting a wooden cross somewhat perfectly in the shadow of the star.  The cross was pointed out on Christmas Eve how the birth of Christ would foreshadow the cross.  (P.S. many people thought that was coincidence :)  Then of course the manger surrounded by poinsettias on the steps of the stage.  Oh and the little benches over to stage right were used every week (including Christmas Eve) for a children's message.  Not sure where all those benches ended up...

Advent 2008

In Advent 2008 we decided to do something different than the traditional Macy's fake Christmas tree look that we do every year.  Instead our series was about the prophets foretelling the coming of Christ, so we set up a Bethlehem scene in the background cutout of 4X8 sheets of foam board and painted.  The  palm trees were made out of plywood, chicken wire, and fabric (technically more historically accurate than pine trees...).  The palm branches (luckily were removable from some fake plants in our building) and stuck into little foam bricks in the top of the tree trunks.  The star reappeared this year (a spandex 3D shape stretched over a wire frame).  The hill underneath Bethlehem we had to build 2X4 construction with chicken wire fence coming out from it.  Then we just pinned a bunch of brown fabric over it.  Hopefully it looks like a city on a hill (we used it to bury the drums too :)
On the columns of the wall were these artistic figures cut out of foam board and painted.  Some of them still exist in our closet today.  Then fabric was draped down from behind them and lit from the floor.
All this was a tremendous amount of work. We had a crew of 4 people working weeks ahead of time cutting, painting, and prepping.  then the Saturday before Advent, about 20 people came and put it all together on stage.  The Bethlehem backdrop (about 10 to 14 feet wide), tree trunks for the palm trees, and some of the prophet faces are still in storage in our church.