home! Christ Church Episcopal opens doors to Good News life. Good
news is only ‘good’ if it is good for everyone. You are
welcome to act as if God has broken down the walls of separation between
and among God’s people. Never before has the world needed a
fellowship dedicated to inclusion and barrier free membership as it
does now. Episcopal Churches tend to be more interested in the questions
than the answers. The answers we find as we “work out our own
salvation in fear and trembling.”
The Episcopal Church has served as the English Catholic Church in
America since the late 18th century. Liturgical, biblical, theologocially
generous, socially liberal, people from all walks of life find their
spiritual home here.
When you worship with us you will discover humor, sensible spirituality,
and deep traditions of honesty and balance. Christ Church follows
Jesus in a concern for the poor, especially the people who live on
the streets of Las Vegas. There are opportunities for you to add your
hands and feet to these and other ministries as God calls you.
Father Peter Courtney
Interim Rector 2006
to the Annual Meeting from the Interim Rector
Church Episcopal, Las Vegas, Nevada
January 21, 2007
The annual report from the interim rector tries to tell the story
of the congregation from his arrival to the present. Today this means
about 7 months worth of direct experience in the life and times of
Christ Church Episcopal, Las Vegas, Nevada. One way to tell this story
is to recount what it was like in late June what has happened since
and what it is like now.
What was it like?
The congregation enjoyed the ministry of Father Massey Gentry for
9 years. His departure has been described by dozens of people as “abrupt”.
In fact he gave 30 days notice of his resignation which is standard
for the industry. Congregations tend to believe that their clergy
are permanent. It is good to think this way. It builds trust and confidence
for a common future. Still, clergy come and go in equal measure. When
the interim arrived in late June life was going on and reality seemed
to have set in. A new rector would come in a year or so and expectation
was beginning to build around this hope.
The entire finance management team resigned including two treasurers,
the bookkeeper and the parish administrator. The parish secretary
will retire in April of this year. These are normal and expected outcomes
during times of transition.
Regular worship, Sunday school for children and adults and the ongoing
outreach ministries continue to function. The Vestry was looking for
direction and support. The parish buildings although aging manage
to keep the forces of nature at bay—most of the time.
The congregation presents itself as a commuter parish, some people
driving up to 50 minutes each way for worship or parish events. While
in many areas the congregation valued its progressive ethos, in some
others it is very settled, even reactionary, particularly in the area
The interim discovered quickly that fund raising is a central value
in the life of the parish. Pledged support for program and maintenance
is generous, but limited to the parish center. The parish has been
postponing significant long-term capital improvements to walls, office
space and HVAC partly to lack of funds, partly because there is no
agreement on where to start. The 2006 budget had only 8 expense lines
in it. The constant change in bookkeeping personnel allowed the parish
chart of accounts to morph into chaos. It was impossible to administer
or plan for the financial life of the congregation. The software in
use did not have a budget management protocol. In September it became
clear that 2006 began with the General Account significantly overdrawn,
a fact the Vestry did not know.
There is significant tension in the parish between several sets of
values: Parish Life vs. Outreach is one. While the parish wants to
care for the community, a modest minority does the actual work and
a vocal minority expresses dismay at the impact on staff and property
for this ministry. Unseen in this clash of values is the substantial
subsidy the parish was affording its tenants by failing to bill appropriately
for occupancy reimbursement. (Occupancy reimbursement includes taxes,
trash removal, gas, electric and water expense.)
Another clash of values is whether Christ Church’s ministry
should remain on Maryland Blvd. While a majority sees and wants a
future here, not everyone agrees.
The interim affirms the parish worship tradition and experience. With
the exception of a few very modest additions simply maintains this
important part of the fabric. The director of music chooses the hymnody.
Supervising the building and its staff as well as making significant
adjustments to the operations of the South Property are an ongoing
effort. Significant cosmetic property improvements were completed.
Job descriptions and personnel are being adjusted to reflect budgetary
and work requirements. Plans continue to evolve regarding staffing
The Vestry authorized the purchase of new church management software
which addresses many of the concerns listed above. The vestry reviewed
and adopted a complete line by line budget. This budget can be managed
and changed as changes are needed. Budgets are planning tools, not
weapons. The parish office computers are now networked and have been
significantly upgraded. Staff members receive cross-training so that
several people will know how to do several functions. A new parish
website is under construction and will be on line shortly. Electronic
communication will be enhanced by a parish mail server. Training is
underway to take advantage of our new management tools so support
the ministry of the baptized.
What is it like now?
By the time the interim exits in June the parish operations for finance
and property will be streamlined and coherent. The new rector will
not have to worry about this area in terms of management. The Treasure
House is generating enough income and is so well-managed that it can
support the majority of the direct costs of outreach ministries except
for the wear and tear on the physical plant.
The Vestry is beginning to understand its role as an overseer. Oversight
is compromised by the fact that the Outeach Committee is only committee
that meets and functions. The Executive Committee is making progress
in helping the Vestry focus on its oversight function by careful agenda
planning and discipline.
A goal for the spring is to see if the parish is willing to support
a functioning finance committee, a functioning property committee
and a Christian Education committee. A minority of the vestry did
gargantuan efforts in the Every Member Canvass still underway.
There is a significant surplus from 2006 due in part to a legacy so
there are funds for the vestry to rely on to balance the 2007 budget.
The first part of another legacy has been received and the remainder
is due in 2007.
The Diocese of Nevada has been subsidizing Christ Church since 1999
by accepting less than full offerings on its annual asking. To date
this subsidy totals close to $400,000. The Interim Rector and Church
Wardens met with the Bishop before she moved to New York. They are
prepared to recommend to the Vestry to accept the Bishop’s offer
of making a full asking gift from the previously mentioned inheritance.
This gift amounts to significantly less than the accrued subsidy.
The Good News is that everybody wins. The Diocese gets a good faith
offering from Christ Church and Christ Church will be allowed to call
a new rector.
The not-so-good news is that unless the budget passed by the Vestry
meets or exceeds the pledge figure it contains, the Vestry will be
hard-pressed to offer a competitive compensation package to a new
rector. Such a package costs about $60,000 more than the parish pays
the interim rector.
Despite this challenge the Search Committee is ready to begin its
work. The final report of the Profile Committee is almost in hand.
The data from the survey you participated in say you want a rector
who will help grow the congregation, provide fellowship opportunities
and educational programs for children and adults. You want a rector
who preaches well. You said that both outreach and worship receive
Christ Church is a gifted and holy people. With giftedness and holiness
comes a shadow. Shadows tend to lengthen in times of stress such as
an interim period.
Your job in the next 5 months is to pray for your parish; support
it with your money and lend a willing hand when asked or when you
discern a need. Your vestry needs your love and prayer. They will
be calling a new rector and rector candidates look at the Vestry first
and sometimes last to see if the congregation is leaving them to go
On a personal note: Debby and I are glad we came to be among you for
this brief season. We will be gone in less than five months. We will
treasure the people of this place for a long time to come.