Tennessee’s Bellevue Baptist Stages Major Renovation


Paragon 360 and Fleming Architects think outside the box and finish on time and within budget

Consistently ranked as one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, with over 25,000 members, Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn., has a vision to be the catalyst for spiritual awakening in their community and around the world.

This year the church has executed the largest change in the main sanctuary in over twenty-five years with a two-million-dollar stage renovation. The 15-week renovation was completed on time and on budget. The design was driven by Paragon 360, Fleming Architects and Bellevue's staff designer, Mark Alexander.

“Recognizing the importance and impact of the worship environment, Paragon 360 has worked intricately with church leadership to design a stage space that increases flexibility and encourages a more intimate worship experience for those in attendance at either the traditional or contemporary services.” says Mark Blair, Bellevue's Minister of Music.

The new stage treatments, designed and built by Springfield, Missouri-based Paragon 360, not only provide continuity with the recent renovations and updates to Bellevue's lobby areas, but also allow for dramatically different worship environments between services. In as little as twenty minutes the modular staging and lighting elements can be completely transformed, allowing the church tremendous flexibility.

"They didn't bring a 'cookie-cutter' approach to our project, but truly wanted to partner with us in order to get the best result for our unique needs. " - Mark Blair, Minister of Music, Bellevue Baptist Church

The new stage, at just over 10,000 square feet, will accommodate intimate band-driven worship, choir-led worship or full-scale theatrical productions. The old retractable choir riser system was replaced by Paragon 360's custom designed, modular choir riser system that includes a mezzanine superstructure. The new choir riser system allows the choir to be elevated six feet providing brand-able, television-ready backgrounds and underneath storage. The stage features wood, faux rock and stone treatments, powder coated aluminum framed scenic structures, custom illuminated screen surrounds, glass railings, two sided illuminated scenic elements and Paragon 360's custom DE-360 Squared Drum Enclosure.

Technologically, the stage project included state-of-the-art video projection on three large screens. In all, the new screens total 100 feet of image using new 30k projectors, and provide versatile service programming and better visibility throughout the sanctuary. The lighting system was updated with new conventional and moving light fixtures, additional motorized lighting positions and a new control system that enhances the look and feel of the entire worship environment.

“This project pushed our team to really think outside the box as many do,” says Donnie Brawner, CEO of Paragon 360. “I honestly believe that what we created was the only real solution to deliver exactly what they were looking for from environment to storage, flexibility, increased technology and budget parameters. We would have to create and fabricate this, top to bottom. All the pieces we needed to make this happen did not exist in the market place,” Brawner says.

Blair went on to say, “The quality of their product is evident and has been well received by Bellevue Baptist Church. We are a church with a strong heritage and Paragon 360 helped us to embrace that heritage while offering a functional design for the 21st century. They not only have the right answers, they also know the right questions to ask during the design phase. People of all ages, styles, and opinions love the look of the new stage. Those who use the space on a weekly basis love the flexibility and quality of the products. It is a win-win to me and that is what Paragon 360 brought to Bellevue; an opportunity to meet the needs of an established yet growing and changing congregation and do so while being good stewards of money and time.”

“From a long relationship with Bellevue over the years, we have a real good understanding of Bellevue's DNA, their expectations and objectives,” says Brawner. “That translated into a crystal clear vision of what was required in this project. We have a great working relationship with their in house design team and have been in conversations about this for years.”

The design process for the Bellevue renovation spanned about six months with demolition and renovation work taking place over four months. All the stage elements were fabricated in Springfield, MO, at Paragon 360.

“What I appreciate so much about Paragon is that they treat us as family and friends,” says Mark Alexander, Bellevue's Director of Design Services. “You never feel like you have a contract with a big corporate company and that you have to work through the red tape. Fleming Architects and Paragon 360, are the best design team I have ever worked with,” concludes Alexander.

To see Paragon 360's video about this project

Originally Featured on churchproduction.com