Shepherdstown Technology

Jan 2020 Updates

Greetings Shepherdstown,

I wanted to take a moment and thank all of you, the congregation. The people that make up this Church. I look forward to sharing visions and projects approval with everyone very soon starting in 2020.

Outdoor Digital Signage Update:

Two quotes have been received for competitive bidding on a new marketing sign out front of the Church. One from Strickler Signs and one from DragonFly Signs. Both were very competitive, reasonable, and fair; however, the fine detailed print has been reviewed to ensure the best value is invested and installed for generations to come. Recommendations to those quotes have been handed over to Trustees for a special meeting/vote in early January then onto Church Council for approval.

Sound/Video Solution for Children's Center:

Quotes were received in response to upgrading the Children's Center for Sound/Video. Those quotes have been reviewed and are below $15,000 for the initial upgrades. Trustees will need to study and pass to Church Council with funding allocated for these projects

Lighting upgrades for the Children's Center:

Quotes have been provided to Trustee on upgrading to LED dimmable lights. The total project cost is under $4,000 and will reduce our electric consumption in the children's center by 75% use. Schaedler-Yesco would provide the lighting at the fair-market price, and LEER would install the fixtures.

Lighting upgrades for Life Center Classrooms:

Quotes have been provided to Trustee's on upgrading to LED dimmable lights. The total project cost is under $7,000 and will reduce our electric consumption in the life center by 90% use. Schaedler-Yesco would provide the lighting at the fair-market price, and LEER would install the fixtures.

Main Sanctuary Lighting:

We are now onto vendor number three (3) for reviewing the lighting layout of the sanctuary. The solution will be to replace the fixtures with the same style cylinders that are currently in place however with an LED bulb. The best approach has been determined to rent a drivable lift into the sanctuary and replace all of the light bulbs. Reviews of the "as-built" drawings are being conducted on the proper weight distribution of the foundation. An average lift with a maximum height of 40ft weights 14,000-16,000lbs. A quote for scaffolding was provided at $30,000.00 for a one-week rental to accomplish this task. A lift rental for one month is $3,000.00. The goal is not only to save money but the workforce behind it. A finalized report will be provided to Trustees at the January meeting.

Social Media/Website:

Our social media presence is growing but at a slow and steady pace. Some community members who participated in the recent cookie walk learned about Shepherdstown via our Google Search online presence and social media marketing strategies. The cookie walk had a $5 ad for the event and reached an additional 2,500 online users within 3-days. Special thanks to Kathy Ries for leading the Cookie walk expedition and raising over $800.00 in the event. Great job by all!

Advent Decorating Success:

By promoting our advent decorating through social media, website, newsletter, and email communication. Our pre-registrations were 20 individuals. We want to thank the 40 individuals total for supporting the decorating of Shepherdstown, who was thrilled to be invited to decorating the Church. With Christmas Music playing and The Grinch Stole Christmas on the projection, it was a great day by all. Thank you, Deb Kenes, for organizing a well-attended event!

Blessings and wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

December 2019 Updates

Greetings Shepherdstown,

I am looking forward to sharing our vision of Shepherdstown Church using a technology foot-print while keeping traditional values and using enhancing methods of technology integration starting in 2020. While sharing this vision with our Finance Committee, Trustee’s and Church Council, the excitement is in the air! Some new things that have happened in the last month:

Digital Outdoor Signage:

Shepherdstown has been blessed with a generous gift specifically for a Digital Outdoor Sign that displays events and worship times. This will make a great impact for those walking/traveling on South York Street in both directions. Meetings will be taking place in the very near future with Trustees and Church Council starting in January 2020 to establish an acceptance of design, cost and building. More information will be published in next month’s newsletter.

Gathering Grounds:

The TV in the Gathering Grounds now has the ability to stream YouTube TV which is featuring LIVE TV. This can be used for all committees, Youth, Children’s, etc. We also have incorporated the weekly announcements on the TV as if you were sitting in the main sanctuary. Gathering Grounds also received new LED lighting which cut the old fluorescent lighting by 80% in power consumption.

New Computer Available in Lobby:

For anyone who would like to utilize the free internet throughout the church, access the web or check out the website can now do this by accessing the computer at the Lobby Desk. No password required! The computer can be utilized at any time and has the ability to print to the Church Office. See Deb or Josh for additional information or help!

Virtual Meetings Now Available:

In November the Discipleship Committee met in person and via conference call. Allowing Members to “dial-in” to the meeting and allowing everyone to connect for those who could not be present at the physical meeting. This feature will be at the discretion of the committee chair and the uses of it.

New Laptop Computers Purchased for Children and Youth Directors:

New Laptops have been purchased for our new Children and Youth Directors. These laptops give the ability for the staff to be virtually anywhere inside or “outside” the church. They can print wirelessly to the Children's Office and Church Office. Wirelessly stream to digital displays (coming soon), access all Church data/resources outside of the building securely. It allows a 10-hour battery life as well.

Overall Infrastructure Plan:

Over the next several months, we will be conducting several in-house evaluations on our Fire Alarm Systems, Security Systems, Lighting Infrastructure, and Sound Systems. How does this all relate to the Technology Integrator position you ask? Every single item and some have a “connection” to the outside world that requires a monthly or yearly subscription that utilizes our phones, internet resources. As the Technology Integrator, it is the responsibility to work with Trustees to ensure we as a Church are not “wasting” money but investing it wisely as our communications oversite.

Example: Our Fire-Alarm System requires two (2) basic phone lines to communicate with ADT/Johnson Controls at $50 per month. $600+ a year does not provide us actual diagnostic codes for when failures are happening within the panel. That requires a service call to Johnson Controls. Johnson Controls arrives at the Church and evaluates and then charges the Church a service fee for diagnostics, parts or labor. A service call is $120.00 per hour with an average time of 2 hours per call. This is not a thrifty or effective system if a technician cannot diagnose the proper issue via remote access that SUMC is paying for services. Trustee’s has been made aware and a plan will be established at the beginning of 2020. The current system is working and functional IF there was a fire within the building as the necessary help would be dispatched to the Church.

HVAC System:

The current HVAC system that was installed within the new section of the building was in 1993. The current system requires an active network connection to our computer infrastructure. In order to keep this system active, we must utilize a Windows Vista Computer that is no longer supported on Windows Updates and has not been for the last nine (9) years. Due to this, it puts our HVAC system at risk to the “outside world.” Recently we installed a new network backbone with upgraded firewall protection in part of this reasoning of outdated technology until the HVAC system has been physically upgraded.

Social Media:

Recently we have established a Google Web-Search Presence. What does this mean? If anyone goes on their iPhones, Androids, Desktop or Tablet computers and searches “Churches”. Shepherdstown will appear in the top five (5) searches on Google. What is the cost? Free. Our Story is currently being shared with the generic postings, website updates. Once our new hires are on-boarded. I will be completing hands-on training on telling our story with our Children’s and Youth Departments. This will ramp up after 2020 with hands-on training using Co-Schedule which manages our entire social media platform with Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Online Directory:

The new online directory will be ready for those to use after Christmas. It is invite-only to the email address you provide to view your personal data. Benefits of this include the following: Tithes and offerings reporting, attendance, update personal contact information. If you or your family are interested in participating in this service which is free of charge, please contact Josh for your formal invite. The invite will be sent to your personal email account you wish to use and grant access to your personal information within the Church Directory and Membership Management.

Organ Integration Restored:

Back in 1993 when the sanctuary was built, the organ was transported from the old sanctuary now Life Center to the new part of the building/new sanctuary. During this time, the wiring to operate the organ was “over-stretched” from the organ to its own amplifiers located in the closet on the stage. Which is highly not recommended and can cause issues long term. Well, It has been determined that the cable-runs are “too long” for an analog system which was an oversite during construction. This discovery was found after thirteen-hour (13) day was spent on Sound/Video integration in the Balcony between Josh and Steve from Final Focus Productions. Over the years, the integration from the Organ to the main sound system has deteriorated to the point it is no longer functional and caused major feedback within the Choir Speaker. A contractor was hired and restored this integration as our Organ has not been serviced since the early 2000’s. Trustee’s approved the quote for $1,000 to restore the functionality of this system. The new interface has been installed and restored on November 26th. The ability to hear the Organ is now available in the nursery, lobby, lounge, hearing assistance devices.

Request for Main Sanctuary Sound System Evaluation:

A request was made to have a full evaluation of the Sound System and the “dead-spots” within the Sanctuary. In 2007 Moorefield Communications installed the “new” system and provided drawings with the JBL Speaker Cluster hanging in the center of the Sanctuary peak. Several items were not completed per the drawings and were not finalized to specifications due to management issue within volunteers.. Sage Technologies made strong recommendations to change the JBL speakers, amps with the same placement of a new speaker. Josh brought in Spirit Sound and Lighting under the direction of Ryan Bell. Ryan and his team spent three (3) hours responding to the request “Can we place additional speakers under the balcony to support the back four (4) pews?” The answer is “unfortunately not, that will cause more issues for others in the sanctuary based on building design of the sanctuary”. Ryan, Alex, and Jonathan introduced a new technology that is meant for our building design in speakers, choir speaker and wireless microphones that will NOT break the bank nor budget. The rough proposal is to replace the JBL Speaker hanging in the center and create a “stereo pair with subwoofer” and re-aligning to cover ALL seats to eliminate the dead zones as previously mentioned (balcony included) and a new choir speaker. The current JBL speaker was never designed for the forty-five (45 ft) ceilings or length of the room. The best sound experience is between the seventh (7) pew from stage front and four (4) pews in from the back row. Our current Soundboard is still highly recommended in the audio industry. A quote for the new amps, speaker and wireless microphones will be provided to Trustees at the December 3rd meeting to proceed forward.

Building Relationships:

Schaedler-Yesco Electrical Distribution has agreed to work with Shepherdstown as it’s lighting provider in electrical supplies as a substantially discounted rate for materials. What does this mean? Shepherdstown has received two (2) quotes in light fixtures and labor installation from LEER Electric to upgrade the Life Center and Children’s Center. The new dimmable LED fixtures will save ninety (90%) percent in electricity and brighten these classrooms and provide a more welcoming feeling. Josh has worked with Schaedler-Yesco previously for Hidden Valley Scout Reservation in its camp-wide LED conversion in 2018 which saved six-thousand dollars ($6,000) in one calendar year. Quotes have been provided to Trustees for the December 3rd meeting for approval.

Assisted Listening System Pending:

With our early 2000’s listening assisted system almost failed. A quote has been provided to the Trustee’s and Memorial Gifts Committee for approval. If approval is granted, installation will be completed immediately. The quote consisted of sixteen (16) listening assistants with simple to use on/off switch. Rechargeable lithium-ion battery back with eight hours of continuous use. Average amount of users every Sunday is ten (10) individuals. In addition to this, the system comes standard with an “app” to install on your smart phone and listen with your own personal headphones to the service anywhere in the Church via our new WiFi infrastructure. Cost for upgrade is: $5,255.00

Special Thank you(s):

Trustees, Staff Parish Relations Committee, Worship Committee, Finance Committee, Memorial Gifts Committee, Pastor Dennis Otto, Deb Buterbaugh, and Scott Lippert. These individuals and committees have allowed numerous hours of communication, trust, and a collaborative working environment to place Shepherdstown into a technology milestone of moving forward. None of these reports provided to you would be made possible without these solid working individuals.

Feedback: I welcome all feedback. Positive, concerns, negative. Please leave a note in the Response Box with your name and phone number or email me at



Consecration Sunday Presentation

After the consecration Sunday Service (11/17/2019). Members and Guest's joined in the fellowship hall for a lunch-in prepared by the Kitchen Staff. Shortly after Lunch was provided, a presentation was given on the future of Technology Improvement Plans of Shepherdstown and moving forward

starting in 2020 through 2024.