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2011 Annual Gathering Report from the Coordinator of Parish Activities

by Russ Smethers, Volunteer Coordinator of Parish Activities

            This last year has seen an abundance of activities and a large amount of growth within the U.C.C. Parish Las Vegas and it has spread throughout the SCNCUCC. Last year I was honored to be appointed the Conference Coordinator of Parish Activities. A new position within the SCNCUCC. With this position came great responsibility but also a great opportunity to achieve on a Conference level what had been such a overwhelming success on a local level.

            In order to understand the drive and success of what has occurred to date I have to rewind a bit to the beginning. The U.C.C. Parish was created in November, 2009 in the Southern Nevada region to confront the problem of local U.C.C. Churches not communicating or cooperating with each other (with the exception of Association meetings and Annual Gatherings). So members from 4 of the 6 U.C.C. Churches in the area got together and created the U.C.C. Parish. A group of people from different Congregations working TOGETHER towards common goals.

            I admit that at first it was slow going. Churches as a whole do not like change. And we were asking ALL of the Churches to work side by side. With persistence and a lot of patience people started realizing that this was a good thing. BBQ’s were held, movie nights are a common thing now. We just had a Luau fundraiser to help fund a trip the U.C.C. Parish Las Vegas is taking in July, 2011 to help with relief efforts from massive flooding in Nashville, TN. We have partnered with Lowe’s and the Clark County School District to start repairing schools within the district. We even had a joint Christmas Eve candlelight service. The UCC Parish is also holding a Church Visitation Sunday where the other Congregations will attend a specific Churches service. This happens on May 29th at Northwest Community Church.

            Me and Nelson Grandjean (another member of the Parish) traveled to San Diego in April to attend the San Diego Partnership UCC meeting. We had never even heard of the Partnership when we started the U.C.C. Parish, but after learning of it from Scott Landis it was apparent that the Partnership and the Parish were woven from the same cloth. Both were created for the same purpose and had similar agendas. The big difference being that the Partnership has been in existence since the 1980’s and the Parish was formed in 2009. We had found our “Big Brother” and we were anxious to “pick” their brain to see how they survived and grew throughout the years. The experience was very pleasurable. We learned a lot about each others groups and we formed a bond. The U.C.C. Parish is also hosting the 1st U.C.C. Parish Church leadership retreat in Southern Nevada. It will be held October 13-14, 2011 at the Mt. Charleston Lodge Cabins in Nevada.

            As of May of 2011 I am proud and happy to announce that the U.C.C. Parish Las Vegas has 5 of the 6 U.C.C. Congregations on board and I have a strong connection with the 6th and feel confident that soon all of them will be working together for the work of God. The interest of the U.C.C. Parish has stretched beyond the walls of Southern Nevada. With the support of the Conference we are now spreading the word throughout the SCNCUCC and I have even been asked to do a workshop at a U.C.C. Church in the Northern California/Nevada Conference later this year. With so many people to thank for the U.C.C. Parish becoming as successful as it is, it would be nearly impossible to properly thank them all but I do want to do a shout out to a few that have been along for the ride from the beginning and those who currently sit on the Parish Board:

Nelson Grandjean (1st Congregational LV), Clementine Geronimo (LVUCC), Pastor Dave Pomeroy
(1st Congregational LV), Pastor David Krueger-Duncan (Northwest Community Church), Pastor Rick Samples (Northwest Community Church), Judith Vicari (1st Congregational LV), Pastor Ailao Tofaeono (LV Congregational Christian Church of American Samoa), Sam Pelupelu (LV Samoan Congregational Christian Church), and Pastor Felix Villanueva for his confidence and support of the U.C.C. Parish Las Vegas and me. And last but most important, my thanks and love to the Lord for giving all of us the ability to be compassionate, the drive to see things through, and the strength of our souls to want to be better and help others to strive for the same.

Russ Smethers

Other Reports:

Report of the Conference Minister

Report of the Board Chair

Repoort of the Associate Conference Minister for Border & Latino Ministries

Report of the Director of Finance, Administration & Communication

Report of the Associate for Church Development & Renewal

Report of the Youth & Young Adults Ministries Coordinator

Report of the Financial Development Team

Report of the Pilgrim Pines Camp Executive Director

Report of the President of the Pacific School of Religion

Report of the Coordinator of Parish Ministries

Report of Peppermint Ridge

Report of Retirement Housing Foundation

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