Holmes Avenue Baptist Church wants all of its parishioners to hear sermons, songs and other sounds clearly in the sanctuary.

The church currently offers personal assistive listening devices that assure people can hear what's being said during service.

Tiny transmitters use radio signals to transmit amplified sounds. Members wear headphones and use a dial on the device to control volume.

At least two elderly parishioners at the North Charleston church use the devices, including Bill McDaniel, who is 92.

He started wearing hearing aides 30 years ago. While the devices helped during worship, it was difficult at times for him to understand the words.

He said he gets spiritual uplift from the hymns, and he enjoys being able to hear the words sung from the choir loft rendered from the pulpit.

"I love to hear the sermon," he said.

Keith McElveen, founder of Wave Sciences, said other churches downtown have the transmitters as well.

He pointed to hearing loop systems that sync with hearing aids to amplify sound. With these systems, a person speaks over a microphone and the sound is transmitted directly into the hearing aid.

These devices are useful for churches, symphony halls and movie theaters, McElveen said, where extra noise can make it difficult to hear clearly.

“It's like a godsend,” McElveen said.

In addition to helping those who have hearing problems, Holmes Avenue has aimed to meet its members visual needs.

Church members installed two large projector screens that display song lyrics, replacing hymnals featuring words and notes in small print.

Members initially thought older worshippers would resist the technological advancements, said Harvey McDonald, who oversees the sound team. But older worshippers were delighted to read lyrics from the large projectors.

“We had an older gentlemen say ... 'I can finally see the words of the words of the songs,'" McDonald said.

It helped cut costs, too. While the church spent $12,000 for the projector equipment, it has saved money since it no longer orders hymnals, Pastor Troy Query said.

The church offers a variety of ministries for its seniors. Members knit and sew in a Golden Girls group, and worshippers made baskets for congregants last Easter.

It's important to find ways to engage people, no matter their ailments or disabilities, McDonald said. People come to church to worship God, so members should work to make the messages and songs clearer, he said.

"I think its one of the most important things a church can do," he said. "We’re not just catering to a young, perfect body of people. There’s so many people."

But while the church serves its seniors, Holmes Avenue — like many mainline denominational churches — has also increased efforts in recent years to engage youth. The church hired two ministers to focus on youth activities.

Outdoor programs, such as Easter egg hunts, movie nights, and a back-to-school program aim to engage the younger crowds.

Follow Rickey Dennis on Twitter @RCDJunior.

Rickey Dennis covers North Charleston and faith & values for the Post and Courier.

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