Welcome 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.
Welcome home.
Father Peter Courtney
Interim Rector 2006

Report to the Annual Meeting from the Interim Rector

Christ 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 of worship.

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.

What happened?

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 issues.

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 enough attention.

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 it alone.

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.