We hope you enjoy these short items from our history. Source material for DID YOU KNOW comes largely from a timeline of the church created by Richard Lindeborg. Logos information and photos provided by Carol Linder.
DID YOU KNOW, in 1870, what would become the oldest existing New Mexico Protestant Church building standing today, was erected on Socorro Street in Las Vegas, NM. The original First Presbyterian Church was built by Rev. John Annin and his associate Jose Ynes Perea, later to become Rev. Jose Perea.
DID YOU KNOW, the bell in the Douglas Avenue church steeple was cast in Troy, NY, and weighs 831 pounds. The bell was hauled the last 250 miles into Las Vegas by wagon train because the Santa Fe railroad ended in Grenada, Colorado.
DID YOU KNOW, the railroad arrived in East Las Vegas on July 4,1879. The new town grew up around the railroad and was the impetus for construction of a new church building on Douglas Avenue in 1880. The original church on Socorro Street was virtually abandoned until a Spanish Presbyterian church was organized in 1884. In 1960 the two churches combined into the present Presbyterian church at 1000 Douglas Avenue.
DID YOU KNOW, our church Mission Statement is: With Christ as the center of our ministry, First United Presbyterian Church is dedicated to sharing the love of Christ in our community and beyond. We accomplish our mission by improving the spiritual life and resources of our church and community, making our community a better place in which to live, making our organizational structure more flexible and productive, and by conducting more effective evangelism through projects, education, programs and outreach.
DID YOU KNOW, Logos, an afterschool program for children, ran from the fall of 1996 through May 2004. The outreach program was a joint venture with St. Paul’s Episcopal Lutheran and Methodist churches working closely as partners providing teachers and volunteers. My daughter Katie joined the program as a kindergartner in the fall of 1997 when we moved to Las Vegas and the program was under the direction of Rev. Liz Graham. Logos was a major factor in our decision to join the Presbyterian Church. I took over leadership in the fall of 1998. That year the program for K – 5th grade was expanded to include a Peanuts group for pre-kindergartners of teachers, so our son Charlie was able to participate as a three-year-old along with Leah and Taylor Vetters, daughters of Rev. Michelle Vetters. We later expanded the program to include youth through 8th grade. (A favorite memory from Carol Linder)
DID YOU KNOW – Logos left a lasting imprint on the adults and youth involved. From Juli Salman (parent and teacher): I loved working with Joan Boliek and the younger kids. She was so resourceful and creative and taught me a lot about being patient and being able to adjust expectations on the fly. We made a large cardboard, life-size tree in the center of our classroom one year. All our lessons were taught under the tree which morphed for each season and holiday. Joan was a wonderfully inspirational person and I still miss her.
DID YOU KNOW – Logos left a lasting imprint on the adults and youth involved. From Molly Salman (participant): I remember when Michelle taught us to “clown around”. You had to come up with your clown identity. I’m pretty sure I was a grumpy clown… not too far off from my real-life identity! Can you identify the “clowns”in this photo? They’re all grown up, now.
DID YOU KNOW, in 1967, the church joins others in establishing the Alcohol Health and Information Center, soon to have its own building and be named for Rev. Robert Plagge. Membership briefly returns to above 200.
DID YOU KNOW, in 1968, First United Presbyterian Church, the First Christian Church, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church jointly ran a facility for university age young people. Called the 714 Coffee House, located in the original adobe Episcopal Church building at 714 National Avenue. Presbyterian support for the venture was provided by the Westminster Foundation. Programming at the coffee house was prominently featured in the 1968 Southwest Wind yearbook of Highlands University. Issues of the Vietnam War and the military draft were frequent topics of discussion. (Source: Jay Schufle)
DID YOU KNOW, this photo came by way of Jose (J.D.) Vasquez III. He writes that it is a picture of the Presbyterian Church (old town) of which his family were members. The pastor, on the left in front, is Rev. Tomas Gonzales. Bert Forbes, a former member of the Douglas Street church, wrote that he has many good memories of joint services, joint parties, joint picnics and joint pot lucks. “The ladies from the West Vegas church made the absolutely best enchiladas I’ve ever had, and brought them to our mutual pot lucks. Lucky me. The pastor, Tom Gonzales, was a wonderful man.”
DID YOU KNOW, in 1969 the church opened a clothing warehouse in cooperation with the Catholic Church and others, under the St. Vincent DePaul name. In this same year, the history of our church, “Preparing the Way,” was written and 300 copies were published. Each church family received a free copy; extra copies sold for $3 each to help defray the cost of publication.