We Have A Wall!

We have a wall! No, not that wall; instead, we have installed a hemlock covered wall in the sanctuary behind the choir and pulpit. The wood wall was Tom Sears’ idea. When Tom, our now retired choir director, was asked how he would like to be honored, he suggested putting wood on the wall to add warmth. Congregants gave generously to honor his vision. An ad hoc committee studied designs and hired an acoustician to tell us how to maximize the acoustics of that area of the sanctuary. We chose to install vertical hemlock tongue-and-groove boards that work well with the overhead glulam beams. Te design allows the screen to move up and down freely. Over the course of two weeks, volunteers installed the wood, sanded it and added a finish. We also substituted track lighting for the last row of pendants, which blocked the view of the screen. We appreciated the patience of the choir; their director, Brad Schultz; Rev. Sydney; congregants; custodians; office staff; and everyone else who was affected. The installation team included Emmet Band, Dave DeCou, Steve Kuzma, Marilyn Milne, Phyllis O’Neill, Martha Snyder, Eric Swegles, John White, Nita White, John Roy Wilson. We plan to work again in late January and February. Tis time, our focus will be on acoustical improvements for the choir. An acoustician recommended two steps. First, we will eliminate the 90-degree corners where the wood meets the painted walls. Sound gets trapped in the two corners, which we will correct by installing hemlock floor-to-ceiling panels that bridge from the wall to the paint and eliminate the sharply angled corners. Second, we will add so-called modesty panels to the lowest riser in front of the choir. These low barriers, to be made out of hemlock from our building remodel, will bounce the choir’s sound back to it so the singers can hear each other better. Finally, we will choose artistic ways to highlight the wood wall and declare, “You are in the UU Church in Eugene,” not in another religious setting nor in a concert hall. We will add more elements to the wall, such as a hand-carved chalice created by Martha Snyder from contrasting raw woods, and we will do it while staying within the budget created by your donations. We’re pleased that Tom Sears said the results match his concept for the space. And we thank you for your enthusiastic response to our work thus far. Marilyn Milne

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