Willow Creek Community Church has purchased a Clear-Com(r) HelixNet Digital Partyline system as part of a major upgrade of AV equipment at its main campus in South Barrington, IL. The HelixNet solution replaces a legacy Clear-Com analog partyline system that the church has relied upon for over 20 years.
Founded in 1975 by Bill Hybels, Willow Creek began holding services in a movie theater. Today it
serves over 20,000 worshippers each weekend from six regional campuses around the Chicagoland area.
The main church campus at South Barrington was built in 1980 (Lakeside Auditorium); the Activity Center
in 1990 and the Main Auditorium was opened in 2004. From the start, video, audio and a reliable communication
system have played a key part in the services.
“Communication is highly important because we have so many people in the mix and have to coordinate between
front-of-house, stage, video and lighting teams. A good communication system keeps tensions to a minimum and
maintains a good working environment,” explains Matthew Wentz, Audio Systems Engineer at Willow Creek
“Before we had one, we appeared to be yelling at each other when we were really just trying to communicate,”
adds Wentz. “We have always used Clear-Com systems in our venues. At South Barrington our main auditorium is
still on an Eclipse-Median matrix while our Lakeside Auditorium uses V-Series stations that tie back to the
Eclipse-Median, and until recently, our Activity Center was running on a legacy analog Clear-Com partyline
system. As we didn’t need multiple digital party lines or forced groups, we didn’t see the need to expand the
system further by tying in the HelixNet to the Eclipse-Median. That made the upgrade extremely cost-effective.”
The previous system at the main campus performed extremely well over the years, but advances in technology and
workflow meant that the time was right to upgrade to a digital system. “When we decided to make the switch,
we chose to remain with Clear-Com because of our current relationship, and the fact that the HelixNet is
reliable, and really easy to setup and get going,” continues Wentz. “With the new system, our infrastructure
is so much cleaner because we can get all our channels down to run on one cable instead of planning for four
different sources and working out where they need to go to. It enables us to provide clear, calm, and
consistent communication between audio, video, lighting and stage teams, producers and system engineers.”
“Willow Creek Community Church is just one of the hundreds of Clear-Com analog users that continue their
relationship with us when it comes time to upgrade to digital,” said Mike Rucker, Director of Sales for
North and South America at Clear-Com. “Year after year, we see old customers become new customers again as
houses of worship, theaters, broadcasters and other organizations realize the benefits of a digital intercom
system like HelixNet, and the reliability of Clear-Com.”
HelixNet is the industry’s first digital network partyline intercom system. It was designed as a digital
version of Clear-Com’s industry-standard analog partyline system, bringing simplicity, efficiency and a
powerful set of intelligent features to those users who require a cost-effective digital communication
“Our interaction with Clear-Com was fantastic. They had great design ideas, helped look at what we’d come
up with, made suggestions for the best gear to do the project, and even helped with some custom cabling
for what we needed,” concludes Wentz.