weather icon Partly Cloudy

Las Vegas pastor gets a tattoo during sermons to teach about faith, change

Sometimes, a tattoo is nothing more than a weekend in Vegas and few too many drinks.

There are times, however, when a tattoo can mean much more, regardless of whether everyone can see it.

Verve Church Pastor Vince Antonucci embarked on a monthlong teaching series called “Tattooed” Sept. 18. He added a little pain to his point by getting a real tattoo during a series of sermons this past Sunday and Monday.

Throughout life, everyone has been “tattooed” by a variety of setbacks ranging from financial to verbal to physical, Antonucci said during one of the identical services last weekend. These marks are lasting and can shape a person’s life and identity.

In his own case, the setbacks started almost from birth. Antonucci’s father was wanted by the law in Miami, so he had to register under an assumed name when Vince was born in 1970.

“He was an angry, bitter person and much of it came out at me,” Vince Antonucci said of his father. “He was emotionally abusive. I repeatedly was told I was stupid, bad, worthless.

“He would tattoo me with questions like, ‘How could you be so dumb? What’s wrong with you? Are you totally worthless?’

“And then he would make statements like, ‘You’ve got a real problem’ or ‘You really are stupid.’”

Antonucci said the hurtful names stuck with him.

“They left me feeling like my identity was ‘Stupid’ … ‘Bad’ … ‘Worthless.’”

The damage of verbal abuse had other effects, too.

“Over the years, my identity drove my behavior, like it does for everyone, so I lived out that ID, or I did everything in my power to prove it wrong. I tried to make my identity the opposite, so I strived to be seen as smart and worth something,” he said.

But change is hard.

“In order to get your new tattoo, your new ID, you have to first remove the old,” Antonucci explained. “I had lived so long thinking of myself in a negative way. I didn’t know how to not think of myself that way. I didn’t realize that God loved me.”

Antonucci’s tattoo added by tattoo artist Tommy Altman says, “The one Jesus Loves.”

“Your true identity is that you’re the one Jesus loves,” Antonucci told the gathering. “When I put my faith in Jesus, I became a different person.”

Among the congregants who could relate to the message was Darren LaCroix, a 50-year-old, 10-year resident of Las Vegas who hails from Boston.

“I understand what Vince was saying,” said LaCroix, a professional speaker. “I am now trying to remove the tattoos of my youth in Boston. I had a very fortunate childhood, but I also had my setbacks.”

The biggest setback was as a comic.

“I bombed a lot as a comedian,” he said. “My logical voice said that I simply wasn’t funny.

“Then, I owned a Subway Sandwich shop and it failed.”

LaCroix retreated and did a lot of praying, visualizing and listening to God.

Airman Gavin Brawley, a three-year resident of Las Vegas, also said the series is helping him.

“It’s been very good for me,” Brawley said. “We all struggle with the lens by which we view the world. That lens can be broken because of sin and the bad things in the world.”

“We found it pretty amazing. … The stuff we have grown to believe may not be our true identity,” added Steve Gunther, who attended the service with his wife, Denise.


Setting up the unusual services took some planning, Antonucci said later. “This was a big deal. In fact, the health department came for an inspection and gave us permission to have the tattoo given while I was onstage.”

It was not the easiest for him physically, either.

“It was not a fun experience,” he said. “It hurt and felt like getting a shot from a doctor, and the doctor proceeds to move the needle around on your skin.”

Getting his message across was what mattered to him.

“The entire experience was worth every bit of pain.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of Las Vegas theater talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Shock program rids your pool of yellow algae

If your pool water has gone from clear to yellow, you probably have yellow algae. The pool store will have chemicals to treat the water. When used with super-chlorination, products such as Yellow Out will kill yellow algae.

When accessorizing, start with what you have

Accessories are a simple and inexpensive way to update a room, and there is no long-term commitment. You can change each season, add colors or have fun with a new trend with just a few pieces.