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New church sets up shop in Downtown Summerlin movie theater

It’s a unique name for a church with a unique setting: a movie theater.

Relentless Church held its initial first service in early December at Regal Downtown Summerlin 5, 2070 Park Center Drive. Regular services are set to launch at 10 a.m. Jan. 18.

The church is the vision of lead pastor Joe Pena, whose communication style is that Jesus is centered, relevant and encouraging. He studied at Portland Bible College for ministerial preparation and was commissioned by Hope Church in Kalispell, Mont., to start Relentless Church.

Pena acknowledged that a movie theater was not the setting he originally envisioned. The plan was to hold services in a high school, but when the opportunity arose to use the upscale theater, he was on board.

Regal Downtown Summerlin 5 features deluxe accommodations, including generously sized, recliner-style seats with attached tables.

“Maybe they saw ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ here, and they’re going to come to church here, and we’re totally OK with that,” Pena said of the church’s intended audience. “God is inclusive.”

And since families are welcome, children will be allowed to eat popcorn.

Relentless Church hopes to attract those who have no connection to a church. Pena said he had hoped to start the church two years ago under a different name, City Life.

“But Relentless is, I just kind of felt, like Vegas,” he said. “One of Vegas’ nicknames is Place of Second Chances, and a lot of people moved here to follow after a dream. But the economic downfall, people lose their jobs, lives are shattered, people are ready to give up on everything. And there are still people in that state of mind who have not yet recovered, and I thought, ‘They need to know that God is relentlessly in love with them, that he’s not quitting on them.’ ”

Brandon Martin, church coordinator, has been getting the word out about Relentless’ concept.

“Social media has been huge; it’s been very instrumental, keeping connected with people on Facebook or Twitter accounts,” he said.

Relentless is a nondenominational Christian church.

“I don’t think Vegas needs another church, but I’m starting a church,” Pena said. “I think Vegas needs a movement of faith, hope and love. Too many times, we think of church, and we think of the rituals and a bunch of perfect people getting together and singing ‘Kumbaya.’ ”

Pena said the Bible is actually an inclusive book.

“I believe God’s already moving in this city, so we’re just a part of a movement of faith, hope and love that God is spreading out,” he said. “It’s not about religion but about people and Jesus and having an authentic relationship … and coming to him no matter what your past or present looks like.”

Pena may be only 27, but he has seen a lot of life, and not all of it good. He grew up in Reno and said he prided himself on being a juvenile delinquent. By 14, he was in a gang, hooked on methamphetamines and committing acts of petty theft. By 16, he was “in really big trouble,” he said, and his probation officer gave him a choice: Go to teen prison or a rehab center. He chose the latter.

“When I said that I needed some help, I really just made a decision to go for it,” he said. “… And God rescued me. He pursued me with his relentless love. I experienced something that’s real, and I want to share that with everybody.”

Relentless Church plans to host The Greatest Holiday Party Ever from 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 3 at The Pavilions Club House, 10151 Dorrell Lane in Centennial Hills. The community is invited to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with free appetizers and desserts. Attendees are asked to bring a random, wrapped gift of their choice for a gift exchange game. Child care will not be provided, but children are welcome to attend.

For more information, visit relentlesschurch.tv or call 702-847-9273.

Contact Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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