A Place to Worship in the Las Vegas Valley
Living in the growing Las Vegas Valley you’re bound to see casinos and slot machines everywhere you turn. But this region is also known for the growing number of worship buildings and churches. See how the new worship building on Mountain Vista Street, just at the border of Henderson and Las Vegas, is helping ground young people surrounded by the temptations of Sin City. And how they’re helping bring that same hope to people in their communities.
Voiceover: Every year, McCarran airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, welcomes millions of visitors seeking a few days of escape. Their destination, the Vegas Strip. And every year the number of casinos continues to rise, ready to welcome the constant influx of visitors.
[Video starts – sources: various news broadcasts]
Action News 13: More than 15,000 new hotel rooms are being added on the Las Vegas Strip.
8 News Now: We’re talking about some $19 billion in big projects that are either in the planning phases or actually under construction underway.
Voiceover: They say whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. But what happens when you’re the one who stays in Vegas?
[Video starts – source: news broadcast]
Action News 13: It’s not just the Raiders getting out of the Golden State. Local developers tell me the demand for new houses is back to pre recession levels. So, Las Vegas is booming.
Voiceover: How do you find hope in a place that has earned the nickname Sin City?
Speaker 1: It’s up to the people in the congregation and the people of God to go out there to the community and show people— give them some hope.
Voiceover: I’m Nan Zapanta. As an industrial designer I spent years admiring the great designs of products, vehicles, and architecture from all over the world. But I found architecture to be the most captivating. I love learning about each building, discovering the characteristics that make it unique and understanding the purpose behind its design. Most of all I love hearing about the stories behind each structure and seeing God’s plan in putting it all together. Join us as we discover the Blueprint of the buildings and structures inside the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
Nan Zapanta: We’re driving now, here in Las Vegas. You can’t see it but I mean I see the strip over here but then when you look over here you see all the different neighborhoods, the new communities that are being built. I actually lived out here in Vegas for a little under a year. And prior to moving here, I, I honestly, didn’t ever really want to go to Vegas, I had no reason to be here.
Voiceover: I met up with a group of young adults who grew up in the Las Vegas Valley.
Jurel Santa Maria: Even for those that live here, going to the strip, it’s not normal for them. Normal for them is going to work, going home taking care of their families. And it’s just a normal lifestyle.
Nan: Yeah. Yeah. You know, I noticed that because I lived here for a short time. So if there was ever any time I was like, “Why do I have to be here?” But then living out here, I realized, there’s so much more it’s not [just] the strip.
Voiceover: With the constant roar of airplanes above us and the bursts of laughter from the group. I listened to their stories of what it was like to be young and Christian while living in the city.
Nan: The influences are still there, right? The lifestyles, whatever there might be, there’s so many to choose from, right? What, what, what do you do? I mean to keep your head on straight? Like how—what do you do?
Denise Aboyo: We’re so used to seeing it like you see, all the bad things even in gas stations or grocery stores. So it’s like, normal life for us.
Voiceover: So how does a group of young adults like this, or anyone for that matter, survive the constant barrage of temptation that this city offers? To learn that, I had to go back a few years before Las Vegas was the sprawling metropolis it is today.
[Video starts – sources: various news broadcasts]
News 13: The VIP glitz and glamour and the fireworks as the Monte Carlo officially opens.
CBS News Now: The $620 million mega resort is the first built in Las Vegas in 15 years.
Las Vegas 1: A live look at the new Paris, Las Vegas resort.
Voiceover: It was during this time of transition that the population in Las Vegas also began to grow. Attracted by the lower cost of living than nearby California and plenty of job opportunities, among them were members of the Church Of Christ. In 1991, after gathering in homes and rented halls for almost 10 years, the congregation was approved to purchase a property in nearby Henderson.
Nan: Yeah, and from my understanding this wasn’t the original property where the house of worship—
Henry Nery: Correct, the original one was actually located in downtown Henderson about 15 minutes from here.
Henry: So that was the original place more towards the center part of the Henderson.
Voiceover: Henry Nery moved to Las Vegas over 20 years ago, and has seen the growth of not just the congregation, but even the growth of the Church throughout the Las Vegas region.
Henry: Well, that place was very, very small place very humble, though, because we weren’t that many brethren at the time, and then just over a matter of a couple years, we overflowed that area and then we split just a few years later into the local [congregation] of Las Vegas and Henderson.
Nan: So the growth was rapid.
Henry: Yes, at the time it was called Las Vegas. And then when we did the split in 2002, that’s when we took on the Henderson name because the actual chapel was in Henderson.
Voiceover: The rapid growth in the area led to the purchase of a new property in Henderson. And in 2018, a complete renovation of the existing building. I got the chance to come by the property in the middle of renovation. Scott was the electrician working on the project. He was kind enough to give me a quick inside look at the progress.
Scott: And then if you look up here, there’s going to be a chandelier, big chandelier up there.
Scott: And they’ve started the arc on the roof and it’s going to be just like a dome, all the way down through this whole ceiling. And then along the sides here, if you look at these little circles that are marked out on the floor—
Nan: Right, right.
Scott: On both sides they’re going to have standing fountain lights.
Nan: Oh, really? So, kind of like pillars.
Scott: Yeah. And they’re going to go up to the ceiling because, because we’ve had to move some of our stuff to, to make room for it. So it’s going to go all the way up to the ceiling.
Voiceover: I also got my first look at one of the biggest challenges of the project, combining two buildings into one.
Scott: This is all steel structure, it’s all going to be top of the line.
Nan: Yeah, super strong.
Scott: The steel, if you’ll notice most of the inside of the church, the old church that they’ve taken out all the, all the wood and replace with the steel because it’s much safer, longer lasting.
Voiceover: Looking around, even if it was just an outline form, you could already imagine the different design components of the sanctuary. And it was nice to hear that though this was a job for him, Scott, like many of those working on the project, took special pride in the work being put in.
Scott: I go to church, it’s kind of important to me to do stuff right just because it’s a church. Not that we don’t always do stuff right.
Nan: Right. Right. Right.
Scott: Take a little extra care, you know?
Nan: Yeah, it does—
Scott: You kind of walk around here like, if I’m on a break or something walk on the old part and you can kind of feel the, feel the energy of it.
Nan: Right. Right. And it’s amazing too and guaranteed when it’s done I’m sure—
Scott: It’s going to be one of the prettiest churches I’ve ever seen.
Nan: Right. Are you planning on being here and when it’s all—because usually there’s a dedication and it’s gonna—
Scott: I was gonna swing by, yeah.
Nan: Awesome yeah, it’d be great if you could join us.
Scott: I’m actually looking for a church, so who knows?
Nan: Yeah, yeah.
Voiceover: It would take a few more months for the building to be completed. Helping lead the construction project was Darren from Kalb Construction, the same contractor that worked on the renovation of the Las Vegas House of Worship over five years ago. This renovation project was unique in that it also was a ground up build. It could even be considered somewhat of a hybrid structure since the existing building was combined with a completely new structure. The existing 5,400 square foot building was completely gutted down to the bare wooden frame, and then renovated to become the function hall and office spaces. On the other end, the newly constructed 6,700 square foot building was framed in steel, and is what formed the new sanctuary, as well as the new lobby, which connects the sanctuary to the function hall.
Nan: I don’t know if this was a product of the fact that it was a new and an old section meeting each other but the lobby area, you know where, where it all has the partitions? It opens up to both sides, was that a part of the original plan or like how did that come about?
Darren Kalb: Everyone kind of came to the conclusion that hey, we can close it all off or open it up if you want to have a bigger service or, you know, break it up into two sections of it for a function hall.
Nan: Yeah. And it makes it a lot more versatile. You can open it up.
Darren: Yeah, absolutely.
Voiceover: While Kalb led the actual construction, a project of this size requires the input from a number of parties, including engineers and architects to make it all come together. Dave McKee, an architect in Las Vegas, who was brought onto the project by Kalb Construction early on, took us inside to look at the final details.
Dave McKee: It was, it was an interesting project.
Voiceover: The inside of the sanctuary had many elements I had not seen before, one of which were cylinder moldings, which reminded me of engine pistons.
Nan: What was your inspiration? Or you know, was it—was this all your, your idea? Was that kind of a collective idea?
Dave: Oh, really, it was a collective idea. The fellowship in the Church brought in a lot of cues on how they would like to see the building perform in. And I know one, one aspect that I like to focus on is lighting, natural lighting.
Voiceover: The lighting inside of the sanctuary was made up of a combination of light streaming in through the windows along both sides of the sanctuary, as well as a series of LED lights, peppering the ceiling. Going down the center of the sanctuary were three chandeliers framed by LED lights. And finally in the choir loft area, another set of LED lights framed by accent lighting, also brought in a diffused light throughout the entire space.
Dave: Our engineer, he did a great job with the artificial lighting and and then with the Church presenting these beautiful chandeliers, I mean, that just finishes the project right there.
Nan: Were you involved in, on every kind of design element that was used outside on the exterior and interior.
Dave: Oh, yeah, yeah. When I initially came out—came out to the site, I had to document what was existing and what we were going to preserve.
Voiceover: The efforts to maintain one cohesive look is best illustrated by the exterior of the building, which if you didn’t have any prior knowledge of the older structure, appears as if it’s one entirely new building.
Nan: Right, kind of ties it all—Vegas is, is booming, right? Is there anything about this process or this experience that you’ve had that kind of was different from other projects that you’ve had?
Dave: Everybody understands their goals and, and they knew that it would take a couple of years to get it done so, so that worked out really good.
Voiceover: Once completed, the worship building was dedicated in a worship service led by the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo on August 18, 2018.
The day was one many had waited for, for so many years, after seeing the growth of the Church in the region, the birth of multiple congregations and even the dedication of a bigger worship building for one of its daughter congregations, it was now the time for the congregation of Henderson to move into one of the largest houses of worship of the Church Of Christ in North America.
Alejandro Tejada: This has been something that we longed for, in the local [congregation] of Henderson from the humble beginnings of the chapel that was only about 100 seater to now I mean, we have the capacity of over 900.
Voiceover: Since being dedicated, Henderson has become the hub of many of the activities held in the area. Dino Cui, a member of the Henderson congregation helps lead the group responsible for providing technical support as it relates to the new worship building.
Dino Cui: Hello.
Nan: Hi. How are you doing? Sorry to bother you. I know you’re in the middle of some work here.
Dino: It’s okay.
Nan: What is this space called? This whole area.
Dino: This is the AV room for the chapel.
Nan: This is actually a first on the show. We’ve never started the tour in the AV room. So I’m actually really excited because there’s, this is a pretty legit setup.
Dino: Yes, it is!
Voiceover: Complete with multiple monitors, laptops and even tablets, the AV room had complete oversight of all the technological needs of the worship building.
Dino: So we use this laptop right here for the English translation. And then this one right here is mainly for the organist or we have a projector screen. So we can, we can cast the lyrics of the hymns.
Nan: That’s so cool. So there’s a projection screen and you can control all the output. Can you show us?
Dino: Actually you know what I can actually show you in the projector screen. So it doesn’t matter how bright it is in the chapel, you won’t get any glare. For example, they want a close up of the minister, so I just click on this and then that will bring that up.
Nan: That is so cool. That’s really cool. So, there’s no there’s no guesswork.
Dino: Yeah, we set this so that way everything’s programmed.
Nan: Yeah, so it clearly, clearly shows the picture.
Voiceover: As more and more people are introduced to the Church Of Christ, the need to ensure that each one hears and understands the message becomes more and more important to help ensure that the sound is both clear and crisp, Columnar Arrays speakers, specially designed for spaces like museums and auditoriums, and houses of worship were installed.
Dino: So depending where you’re seated, the volume is going to be the same. So if you’re seated up here, or rather, if you’re seated in the back, the volume is not going to change.
Nan: And I noticed there’s patches already for, for audio and even for video.
Dino: All they need to do is plug in their computer, HDMI and if they need internet, everything is there.
Nan: So it’s all yea and—
Dino: We’re not running cables anywhere anymore. This is so much easier this way.
Nan: I gotta say this is the most impressive setup I’ve seen.
Voiceover: A message Dino hopes to share as he continues to have a front row seat to the growth of the Church Of Christ in the region.
Dino: And we’ve been praying for a bigger house of worship for a long time, many years and then, now that we have is such a great blessing and every time you know we need to come to the chapel and pray you know, it gives us the strength that we need. Sometimes after work it’s like, drop me off to the chapel.
Nan: Best place to be!
Dino: It is, it is!
Nan: But then the cool thing is like even with that change there’s a common factor right and that’s what, what makes it I guess easier to face all these things that are here because you guys already know right away to call it Sin City. But in your eyes, what I’m getting is like you don’t even realize or you don’t even—
Speaker 2: We don’t even acknowledge it.
Nan: Right, right.
Speaker 3: We had each other.
Arianne Cadiz: In our local [congregation], the chapel, not only for me, not only for this group, but it’s home for a lot of us.
Nan: And it’s good to see that you guys have that support, you know that support and all that, did the growth of the city affect any of that?
Tina Cadiz: So having them around me at a young age and growing up together, strengthens our bond, like a friendship, but also in the faith as well.
Voiceover: Listening to them under the constant roar of airplanes arriving. I got a sense of how strong that bond was. One not broken, not even by the growth of the city.
Sabrina Aguda: I think it’s just really overwhelming.
Speaker 4: Sister Merlie is her aunt and she was a part of the history as well.
Nan: This is like really close to the heart.
Sabrina: It just kind of punches you.
Nan: In a good way, in a good way. I just want to know, the house of worship, how has it helped you in sharing your faith? Because it’s clearly helped you edify your faith and edify each other. How about sharing your faith? How did it help? In what way did it help?
Arianne: So we all have social media, and so a lot of us, right after dedication started posting photos of the chapel. So our friends would be like, “What is that? Where is that? The chandeliers are so magnificent!”, you know what I mean? I’m like, “Oh, that’s that’s the church I go to”, so it was a means for us to share, to show them the picture or the face of the chapel. That’s what everybody looks at now they’re like, “Oh, you go to the church with the with the things on the corners. The steeples!”
Voiceover: The sprawling Las Vegas Valley now takes longer to drive from one end to the other. With more and more master-planned communities popping up to accommodate the growing number of residents. Sprinkled in almost every part of the valley, are congregations of the Church Of Christ. Today, however, they’re all here, back to support the first congregation in the region.
Nan: Today, we’re here at a Neighborhood Appreciation Day and how, how important was it that that happened and that it’s here in this community.
Henry: So we wanted to make sure that we involved our neighbors that we’re just not here just to be here. But we also want them to be a part of us as well.
Voiceover: I took the opportunity to sign up for a chapel tour, and even saw some familiar faces from other congregations in the region, as well as meet some new ones.
Nan: So you live in this neighborhood?
Ronald: No, I’m in Centennial Hills. So I think it’s a wonderful thing that you guys have out here. The community needs that. And sometimes you have to— it’s the people of God that should go out there and be progressive, and get out to people and let them know hey, we’re here for you. So I think it’s a great opportunity for the Church.
Azum: I’ve been able to experience the spirit of God through everybody I’ve met. Because [there] seems to be a lot of spiritual people that are here enjoying their time, that know God and that are sincere and not fake about what they’re doing. I’ve had a great time today.
Nan: Were you able to do some of the chapel tours?
Nan: What did you think of the chapel tours?
Azum: The chapel is very beautiful, spacious, seats a lot of people. And it’s really nice inside.
Nan: What’s, what’s something that kind of caught your eye when you walked in?
Azum: The chandeliers.
Nan: Those are some nice chandeliers.
Azum: The chandeliers.
Nan: People always wonder, myself included, how do you survive in a place like Las Vegas? But coming here, seeing this place and meeting the people who have made this region their home, they’ve really shown me and made me learn that living here and surrounding yourself with people that are of faith, with people that are of the same conviction really makes all that other stuff pretty much a non-issue, a moot point.
Azum: People that are of God that connect and keep each other strong, like I said. It really makes a difference in life. Showing that you care about people that you’re taking care of them, you’re trying to help them because like I said, there’s a lot of unfortunate people that can’t afford those types of services.
Nan: Thanks so much again for coming out.
Azum: Thank you.
Nan: Hope to see you more often.
Azum: You will see me soon.
Nan: Thanks for joining us on this episode of Blueprint where in the end, everything is part of God’s plan.