All Saints, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

All Saints, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: All Saints
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 4 June 2006, 10:30am

The building

The building appears to date from the mid to late 1980s, the memorable post-modern period in American architecture. It sits on its lot at an angle, as if it were hiding from the main street. Parish offices, meeting rooms, and a day school (pre-school and kindergarten) share the site along with a modest parking lot.

The church

I give points to All Saints for operating a pre-school. More parishes should take advantage of this ploy to bring in young families as members. The many activities that they sponsor all seem to include a place for young people.

The neighborhood

This is a basic low-density suburban-scale neighborhood. Much of Las Vegas' sprawl looks like this.

The cast

The Revd Eldwin M. Lovelady, rector, presided, assisted by the Revd Deacon Karl Gustafson and the Revd Bede Parry.

What was the name of the service?

Baptism and Holy Communion.

How full was the building?

Mostly full, maybe 200 all told.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

Yes, an usher handed me a service sheet, said good morning, and encouraged me to take a seat in a side section. The Revd Parry, who is the church's music director, was playing a familiar Messiaen organ prelude.

Was your pew comfortable?

The church has padded wooden church chairs with attached kneelers, and they were just fine.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

It was fairly chatty and boisterous. More visiting than praying, in spite of Messiaen's Apparition de l'église éternelle.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Alleluia, Christ is risen."

What books did the congregation use during the service?

The Book of Common Prayer, the 1982 Hymnal and a very complete service sheet.

What musical instruments were played?

An attractive two-manual mechanical action organ, which is well suited to the space. A flautist joined the choir to lead the music, and the congregation sang pretty well.

Did anything distract you?

It was a hot day (107° Fahrenheit or 41° Celsius), and even with the air conditioning people seemed a little restive. Due to the baptisms (one infant and two adults), there were more visitors in the congregation than at other times, and some of them may have been unfamiliar with the service.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Worship was fairly broad-church, but the liturgy was well celebrated. I was glad to see traditional Anglican hymns being used rather than contemporary music, but that's just me. It was a good service and I felt welcome.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

7 – I would give the rector pretty good marks for getting the job done and being quite listenable. His sermon was entertaining, while at the same time it brought the scripture readings to the forefront of people's thoughts.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

The rector compared the readings for Pentecost, and for the weeks leading up to this day, to his memories of Superman features at the movie theatres of his youth. The apostles were given super-powers to establish the church, and each reading relates an amazing tale with the promise of a cliff-hanger to keep us reading on. Tales of super-Christ began at Easter with the story of the resurrection and culminate in today's lesson on how the apostles received tongues of flame.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Singing Down Ampney at communion (one of my favorite hymns).

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

I am tired of complaining about fidgety children (there was one next to me), or about uninspiring architecture, or about a dearth of ecclesiastical art.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

The announcements mentioned coffee hour, and so, to the strains of a nice Bach postlude, I moved in the direction everyone was headed. A gentleman asked me if I had recently moved to the area. (Turns out he was a real estate agent – he gave me his card – but that doesn't mean he wasn't naturally outgoing and welcoming.)

How would you describe the after-service coffee?

Okay coffee and some store-bought baked goodies. A Palestinian artisan group was selling pottery and religious wood carvings, which were very nice.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

8 – I am thinking about the possibility.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Of course. I even enjoyed the baptism.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

Singing "Come down, O Love Divine" at communion.

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