Mountain View Presbyterian Church began with just 23 members in 1992. Today, it has approximately 500 members. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the church at 8601 Del Webb Blvd. plans to host a gala concert and reception at 3 p.m. Sunday that will be open to the public.
The church has seen many changes during its trek to the 20-year milestone.
The land for the church was purchased from the Del Webb Corp. in November 1989, when parts of Sun City Summerlin were still dirt roads. Its first pastor was the late Paul Messineo.
"It's my understanding that they got a helicopter, and they took him (Messineo) all around this side of town, looking for the best area for the church," said the current pastor, the Rev. Raymond Schroeder. "They found this spot."
Before it had a building, the congregation met at Mountain Shadows Community Center, 9107 Del Webb Blvd.
The church's name was changed several times. When the congregation first started gathering there in 1991, it was known as the Kennedy Church of Summerlin. In 1992, it changed its name to Community Presbyterian Church. It was renamed Mountain View Presbyterian Church and officially chartered in March 1992. At the time, there were 105 members.
During construction, some parishioners donated their time and labor to install the kitchen cabinets. Others donated the major appliances. The cost of the building, furnishings and land in 1991 was $1.3 million.
Lucas Ermedes is a charter member. He said he knew the church would grow because of the energy from the people he came in contact with when knocking on doors, inviting people to services.
"It was exciting to see it grow," he said. "The most important aspect was the enthusiasm and friendliness of people."
The church opened with an 8,000-square-foot building.
It included a sanctuary fellowship room, narthex and kitchen. Within four years, the congregation decided to add the children's section, and the upstairs was finished off.
Shirley Winslow is another original member. She recalled volunteering as the financial secretary, taking the collection to her house and counting it on her kitchen table, along with Jack Peters, Ermedes and others. Her husband, Win, didn't join for 10 years because he said the church would "never fly" in a senior community.
"After 10 years, he decided it was flying sky high and it would be OK to join," she said.
Schroeder is no stranger to senior congregations. He spent seven years in a Sun City Phoenix church and five years in a Sun City community in Florida, "but none of the other churches I served had children and youth, and that's what excited me about this one. It had a sort of critical mass of 30 to 60 youth here. It was a church of all ages."
Schroeder said the past year has seen a reversal of a six-year membership decline with net growth of 17.
"I'm an optimist, and I think it holds great promise as we grow our ministry in this area," Schroeder said. "Of course, we've been through some hard times with the economy, but that is turning around."
The church is involved in mission work for the poor in the community, including donating 250 turkeys at Thanksgiving and an Angel Tree gift drive for children at Christmas.
"I'm looking forward to the next 40 years," Ermedes said.
Regular church services are at 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Sundays. For more information, call 341-7800.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-2949.