Photo by Mark Gibson
Volunteers who worked on the Church of the Nazarene lighting display included, from left, Pete Hall, Melanie Hall, Pastor Aaron Mednansky, Kris Langdon, Adam Gietl, Michelle Cochran, Judah Harwood, Ino Olivan, Raymond Kimball, Angel Garcia, Kim Wadsworth, Leaveny Wadsworth and Ramona Harwood. Not pictured are Brittany and John Bernstein, Luke Maney, Russ Erlenbush, Brian Fix, Steven Zack, Adam Pratl, Mychal and Tobin Hall.
The Church of the Nazarene Christmas light show will run nightly between 5 and 10 p.m. through Christmas. Music for the display can be heard through FM radios at 87.9.
Friday and Saturday evenings, church members will provide coffee and hot chocolate for those who visit. The church will also have a Christmas Eve candlelit service at 5 p.m.
Volunteers have put together a Christmas decoration display at the Church of the Nazarene the likes of which hasn’t been seen before in The Dalles.
“Display” doesn’t really do it justice. This is a nightly light show set to music.
Pete Hall, a new The Dalles resident and church member, got the ball rolling, then about 20 volunteers joined in the project, which has been under way since October.
“It’s something my brothers and I have done for about eight years now,” said Hall, who moved to The Dalles from Newberg for work. “Christmas lights have always been kind of a hobby of enjoyment for us. Then, when my wife and I moved to The Dalles, we were out Mill Creek on a secluded drive.”
Their house offered no room for a big display and Hall’s church had been looking for ideas for missional outreaches to the community.
“We’re trying to break the walls down on the church and make people realize we’re not a cultish clique,” Hall said. The church board supported the idea and invested $500 into the costs of the display, plus the cost of electricity.
“It’s great to see everybody come out and volunteer, put in time and effort and to come by and see it,” said Pastor Aaron Mednansky, who joined the church last week. “It’s a great way to build relationships and friendships, and it’s great to see the community come together and help.”
The overall display is all custom built and involves hundreds of strands of lights. Some of the shooting stars mounted on the church roof use 500 bulbs, said Adam Gietl, who worked closely with Hall on the project.
Gietl and Hall both have strong computer skills. Gietl works in the IT department at Columbia Gorge Community College and drew some of his co-workers into working on the project.
“It was a lot of fun and a lot of work, a lot of hours,” Gietl said. “But it was really neat having a lot of people come together and make something like this happen.”
A large centrally featured element on the front of the roof that Hall calls “the orange slice” uses more than 50 strands of lights.
Putting the display together involved three different stages: building the pieces of the display, building the controllers, and synchronizing the music and lights, which Hall said was by far the most difficult part of the process.
“Through doing this, I met somebody who does 32 channels of control in Washington,” Hall said. “We’re doing 200, all synchronized with the music.”
The project involved hundreds of hours of volunteer time.
“We worked on it probably three times a week in work parties,” Hall said.
Hall also had help from his two brothers, Mychal and Tobin Hall, who are both electrical engineers.
“They’re kind of my technical support,” he said.
Work on the music is ongoing. Three songs had been programmed by the middle of last week and two more were slated for completion this weekend.
“This project has maxed everyone’s brains, not just their physical ability to do it, also our mental ability,” Hall said.
Once the synchronizing work is completed, visitors should be able to watch the display for 20 minutes without hearing the same song twice.
The Christmas display is already having its desired effect — on the volunteers who joined in, at least.
“I feel really welcome here to help with the lights,” said Kris Langdon. “I got to get to know some of their members of the church through this project.”
“I got to know all these people,” said Gayle Erwin, sweeping her hand around the church sanctuary. “A lot I’d seen at church but never got to know, even people I’d gone to church with a long time.”
“And the neighbors have been awesome,” Hall added. “Some of the neighbors we thought would complain have actually been the opposite — very supportive.”