Monday, November 17, 2014

Sign Messages

As I mentioned in my last post, I noted that our new electronic sign displays multiple messages. As of yesterday, all the messages were generic, however, as opposed to referring to special events. One of the advantages of our sign is that it can be easily changed. Difficulty of use, after all, was at least one factor that resulted in our manual sign’s having fallen into disuse. The big question now is whether changing our new sign will be seen as too much trouble. After all, we are now showing the name of the church, our (questionable) tag line, our worship schedule, and a notice about church school.

What led me to thinking about the use of our sign was the incorporation of a performance of J.S. Bach’s Cantata #28 into yesterday’s 10:45 service. The music was glorious. (Disclosure: I was one of the singers.) In general, Bach cantatas, despite being a treasure trove of marvelous church music, are seldom heard. There is reason to believe that more publicity, including notice on our new electronic sign, might have brought visitors into the church. Why didn’t we post a message on the sign like the one below?

Bach Cantata #28
at 10:45 AM Service
Sun., Nov. 16

We missed an opportunity. How many more such opportunities will we miss?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New Sign

By now, most parishioners will have seem our redesigned sign outside the main entrance of the church. The old-fashioned black interior with moveable white letters has been replaced by an electronic sign with bright—very bright, as it turns out—yellow lettering. The custom frame has been reworked to accommodate the electronic insert and has in other was been spiffed up. Take a look; the redesign has been very nicely done.

There are a few problems with the sign. One is that it is virtually invisible to cars traveling south on Washington Road, as a large equipment box for the traffic signal is in the perfect place to hide the sign. This is not a surprise; we know about the problem going in, but Mt. Lebanon insisted on keeping our sign in the same location. At some point, we might be able to get the equipment box moved (across the street, say), but doing so would be expensive.

I don’t know all the capabilities of the display, but I suspect that we can adjust the size of the letters, as well as their thickness. At the moment, we are using big fat letters that not only restrict how much text can be displayed but also, curiously, are hard to read. One hopes that, with experience, we will get smarter about this.

An advantage of an electronic sign, of course, is that the message can be constantly changing, a capability we are already using. One of the messages is “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.” Someone remarked, however, that when this message is not being displayed, there is nothing identifying the church at all. Perhaps, the same message could be displayed in small letters at the top of every message; or perhaps not.

Alas, my worst fear (and that of many parishioners) has been realized. Our boast about being a welcoming church has made its way to our newest advertising medium. I have complained more than once about the tag line “The most welcoming congregation in the South Hills for all generations.” (See, for example, “Our ‘Welcoming’ Congregation.”) It seems to show up everywhere. Here it is, for example, posted next to the elevator:

Poster near elevator

On our new sign, our slogan has been abbreviated:

Message on new sign

Our arrogance has grown. We now not only insult every church in the South Hills; we slander every church in the world! I am assured that the rector is responsible for the messages on the sign. He should be ashamed. This message is an ecumenical disaster, and it should be deleted, never to be seen again.