Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church
Mission Study-April, 2022
P.1-2 LTCPC: Mission, Strengths, Finances and Facilities
P.3-4 LTCPC: History – and Demographics of South Lake Tahoe
P.5-8 LTCPC: Summary of Congregational Survey
P.9-13 LTCPC: The Way Forward
Mission, Strengths, Finances and Facilities
LTCPC’s mission is the spiritual growth, care and ministerial development of our members, outreach to the community and world around us through them, and by engaging our friends, families and neighbors with opportunities to join us in exercising Jesus’ love and care for our community and the world as the best way to become more fully the kind of people and community we all long to see and be. “All are Welcome -Come as You Are”.
Our worship and study is centered in the word, our missions giving is both local and global. Our fellowship is deep, rich and ready to be re-invigorated as Covid recedes. Our service is largely through two food ministries we maintain weekly, one a Friday sit-down no-cost meal for all who will come. The other is a weekly drive-through food distribution of a hundred or so b ags of food to dozens of local residents. We host five meetings weekly for Narcotics Anonymous, and one for the Boy Scouts. Our members are actively involved in many social service projects and organizations and we welcome many non-church members into our volunteer ranks for both food programs. Our future is not risk-free as we look for opportunities to serve, reach out, become even more visible in the community, add a youth worker to our staff and prepare to use underutilized space in our facility in creative ways.
Primary among LTCPC strengths are our people
• their long tenure in the community and the church
• their social land spiritual bondedness with one another
• their openness to newcomers
• their commitment to the word
• their community involvement
• their desire to grow spiritually
• their willingness to adapt as needed for outreach to children and families
• their generosity in giving
• their regular attendance in worship
Finances and Facilities
We have what we need in an excellent, rather unique building with adequate parking and excellent location. We also have some space that can be repurposed for multiple or alternative uses as are currently being identified. Our entire interior has been completely remodeled/updated recently with everything new and clean. Including good classrooms, meeting rooms, and social spaces all well-equipped technologically. We do have some debt, mostly due to our fire-recovery remodel that went beyond mere replacement and on into upgrades not covered by insurance. That debt is being retired at a better than anticipated rate. Post fire, post Covid, post evacuation due to wildfire risk our giving and morale remains strong. We also have a medium level of reserve funds for possible use in ways relating to pastoral housing.
LTCPC: History and Demographics of South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is the most populous city in El Dorado County, California, in the Sierra Nevada.
The city’s population was 21,230 at the 2020 census.
The city, along the southern edge of Lake Tahoe extends about 5 miles west, southwest along
LTCPC is the oldest Protestant church in South Lake
Tahoe. A small group of men, women and children began meeting in the old
schoolhouse at the “Y” in the fall of 1946. On June 7 of 1948 after 6
months of negotiations for reorganization with the Sacramento Presbytery
and the council of churches in San Francisco we became a Presbyterian
Services were held in the old schoolhouse, the Community
Club-House and one summer in the Christian Science Church. The church
was built at its current location in 1949. It has been remodeled several
times over the years. In 1963 classrooms, the nursery and the narthex
were added to the front of the building. In 1967 the manse was
connected to the main building along with adding two additional
classrooms and the pastor’s study.
Several upgrades have been done over
In 1969 we shared the facility with the Episcopalians, doing a shared Sunday School but with separate worship services.
the years the church as been used by many local groups. Vietnam Vets,
Al-Anon, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Boy Scouts and a
At one time, High School Classes were held in the
Church Family Room.
In 2019 we had a fire in the basement which
caused major smoke damage throughout the building. During this time, we
met at Temple Bat Yam until the COVID pandemic closed down churches and
we started streaming the services. After two years of being out of the
church for remodeling and upgrades after the fire and COVID restrictions
we were able to return to the building for in person worship.
have always been involved in the community over the years providing
local and global mission support. We currently sponsor the Phoenix Food
Pantry for the Community along with Second Serving Bread and Broth.
South Lake Tahoe is the most populous city in El Dorado County, California, in the Sierra Nevada. The city’s population was 21,230 at the 2020 census. The city, along the southern edge of Lake Tahoe extends about 5 miles west, southwest along US route 50. The east end of the city, on the California-Nevada state-line borders the town of Stateline Nevada. The western end of town is mainly residential.
South Lake Tahoe and the surrounding communities are serviced by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, which is composed of 4 elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. South Lake Tahoe also has a community college, Lake Tahoe Community College which was recently named the best community college in California.
The city is incorporated in 1965 by combining the previously unincorporated communities of
Al Tahoe, Bijou, Stateline, Tahoe Valley and Tallac Village.
Gambling arrived at the Lake in 1944, when Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Saloon and gambling hall opened in Nevada as one of the area’s first gaming establishments. By 1950 roads began to be plowed enabling access to permanent residences. When the 1960 Winter Olympics came to Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe was put firmly on the map as the skiing center of the western United States. In recent years we have become one of the top outdoor recreations areas in the country.
South Lake Tahoe has a snowy highland climate featuring chilly winters with mostly regular snowfall,
and summers that feature warm to hot days, cool nights and low humidity.
The median household income is approximately $49,390. The median property values in South Lake Tahoe have been growing at a rapid rate like the rest of the state of California.
South Lake Tahoe also has one private hospital, Barton Hospital.
SLT residents are mostly white with a 30% Hispanic/Latino (of any race) population share, 5% or so Asian, roughly 1% each of African American and native American. There are about 19% who identify as other or multi-racial.
Summary of Recent Congregational Survey
OUR MEMBERS, Overview
We have mostly older members of considerable longevity in the church and in the community. Average is well over 20 years. They live nearby and are likely to stay. They are positive about the church, have many good friends among the congregation and a large majority have miraculously maintained or increased their level of involvement in the last few years. And tough years they were, a church fire put us out of our space for a couple of years, having to move worship into a few different venues including the home of a local Jewish congregation. And then Covid and then a major wildfire that came within a few miles of our city – close enough to evacuate the whole town. But tough times don’t last – tough people do! They are a generous group and support the church at a healthy level averaging, we believe,
something well over national averages of 2-2.5% of income.
…OUR MEMBERS, Some Detail
About one third of members were raised in or otherwise identified with Presbyterian faith and tradition before settling in here. They are fairly extensively educated and engaged with the larger community. They would also prefer more feedback/information flow from our leaders generally as to issues, plans, decisions and opportunities. They would also like to see more cooperative connections with other local congregations. Members mostly live quite close to the church and their attendance frequency is quite regular, 90% come to Sunday worship 2 or more times monthly.
There are high levels of church involvement beyond just Sunday worship. Involvement level maintained or increased for 80+% during last few years. That seems huge in our times of fire/covid/fire. Involvement level increases v decreases numerically in a 6 to 1 ratio. Positive v Negative attitudes towards the church as a reason for change in level of involvement level upward was 62% and downward on 16%. More or less available time, though, is the biggest single reason for increased v decreased involvement. There is a high rate of close friendship in the church; this is the primary reason people have stayed with us, because this is where so many of member’s friends are. We do have, though, low-ish rates of inviting others (1.6 average annually per member) yet 37% would like to see increased emphasis put on sharing the gospel with the unchurched. They are nearly all quite regular in various types of personal devotions along with strong involvement with community/social service volunteering. They hold quite high views of scripture in traditional ways and regarding traditional doctrines.
They also place a high value on scripture and its’ peaching as the key gift in a new pastor. It is a generous congregation with a strong average $4,000+ level of giving per household.
OUR WORSHIP SERVICES
There is a high level of satisfaction with worship here, with 94%, vary or generally satisfied – about half in each of the very and generally categories. Our members sense of the importance of 13 different elements/qualities of worship (excluding sermon and music addressed separately below) are highest for greeting one another, something specifically for children, intellectual challenge, silent prayer/meditation time, sacraments, lay participation in worship leadership. As to preaching’s importance, most essential by a significant margin is that the sermon be challenging and thought provoking. Next in essentiality is that it be biblically based and illustrated. Then come a virtual 3-way tie between 1. Being spiritually moving and inspirational, 2. Flowing from the preacher’s own faith and spiritual convictions, 3. Providing impetus for reflection on bigger issues and events than one’s own life and this local community. Among 16 tasks that pastors generally have on their plates, job priority #1 is far and away the preparation and preaching of inspiring sermons. Having said all that about the priority of the message in the sermon, is the message in the messenger as a warm and relatable friend who listens well and is able/willing to share her/his own life – a fellow traveler in the faith journey.
In pursuit of a smoother and less complex worship flow, we recently initiated an opening “Gathering Prayer” that incorporates into ja single responsively read prayer the several traditional prayer elements we know as call to worship, call to confession, confession and assurance of pardon. Integrating those elements into one is followed a time of silence for personal reflection as suggested in various ways and wordings by the prayer’s closing. This seems to make for a less complex flow and has had no detractors that we know of. In the coming year we will likely consider other elements of smoothing/simplifying the flow and also work to design, update and connect the different elements of worship such that we move from each to the next more seamlessly and with less “dead time”.
As to music, we have an excellent choir, especially for its size, and an excellent choir director. There is, however, a 27% dis- or very Dis-satisfied opinion of our Sunday worship music program. As to the perception that a greater variety in musical style, especially more contemporary sounds in both song and instrumentation, our session recently approved purchase of a Digital Hymnal system that can play the music for virtually any song or hymn in any of the dozen or more hymnals. The all church Survey shows 49% see use of new or unfamiliar hymns as either important or essential and 63% see use of contemporary worship styles, music and language as important or essential. The now on order Digital Hymnal provides also for adding music of our own choosing to the system, including some of our own composition to its’ memory easily along with the ability to plug in an additional memory module of newer contemporary songs quite inexpensively. The instrumentation for any song can be selected as to piano or organ and then add other instruments or orchestration as the music team may specify, along with varied tempo, number of verses and a few other minor specs as appropriate. We anticipate that our choir director, worship elder and pastor will all become familiar with how to employ this system and set up a weekly playlist fairly simply to be activated as the service proceeds via a small hand-held remote.
OUR MEMBERS’ PRIMARY CONCERN
The music and flow issues referenced in the sections above are intended as an updating of our worship style to reflect both acceptability to our mostly older traditionalist congregation while also honoring some of the less formal stylistic preferences of the two younger generations nearly totally absent from our regular Sunday worship. That absence is markedly noticeable and of broad and deep concern to our congregation. Changes along the lines discussed are no guarantee that the generational losses can be reversed. However, not addressing those issues means a virtual guarantee that nothing is likely to change. The good news at LTCPC in this generational concern is our “secret sauce” – we have a group of people who are giving children’s ministry a lot of time, prayer and energy, even though we have so very few children of our own. But through those few, and their families, we are reaching out, and will find more ways to reach out to many more children of unchurched, but open families. In December of 2021, we had twenty-something young children turn out for our ADVENT ADVENTURE afternoon with stories, crafts, snacks, music and teaching centered on the entering of our world so directly through the birth of God’s Son. In early April of this 2022 year, we had comparable numbers of children turn out for our AWESOME EASTER event with a similar approach to delighting and educating these unchurched children about the death and resurrection of God’s appointed and anointed Rescuer of humankind. Each of the children’s families were given a copy of the excellent Jesus Story-Book Bible as a gift. Initial planning is already underway for VBS this summer and, tentatively, a Homecoming themed early fall event.
As with so many churches of most sizes and traditions, our people’s number one concern is about those missing generations and also the erosion in church attendance generally. In addition to stylistic updates to worship and music, and beyond the outreach to the community’s children/families, our interim pastor reminds us that the core attraction of the message we have for all the world is that the love of God is the strongest force in the universe, stronger even than death; and that the resurrection of Jesus is the turning point in all human history. If that core truth and its implications for our world are broadly embraced and communicated by the CHURCH, the gospel can once again become a transformational force spreading as fast as it did in those first few generations following Pentecost. We have one other relevant recipe for a “secret source” here at LTCPC. It’s the strongest adult spiritual formation emphasis our highly experienced interim pastor has ever encountered in a Presbyterian congregation. Perhaps that energy, focus and prayer can be creatively leveraged into the larger community around us to adults generally and not only to the parents of the children responding to our outreach.
POSSIBLE CHALLENGES TO NEEDED CHANGE TOWARD GROWTH
On the spectrum from History and Tradition to Contemporary ideas
LTCPC is much closer to the former – roughly 2/3 to 1/3
On the spectrum from Serving our Members to Serving the world
LTCPC is much closer to the former – also roughly 2/3 to 1/3
On the spectrum from Congregation as One Big Family to Loose Knit Association
LTCPC is much closer to the former – a bit over 4/5 to 1/5
If, and as, Covid, housing costs and wildfires come under more routine management in our community, we believe LTCPC has excellent prospects of stemming decline and beginning the reversal of the long-term decline endemic to the whole range of Christian Churches, most especially older traditional denominational churches. A first rate and appropriately gifted long-term pastor to lead in the directions implied and/or articulated in the paper is absolutely essential along with increased funding to support some limited additional staff in the areas of children/youth and music.
RECOMMENDED WAY FORWARD
The following pages review the October LTCPC Leader’s Survey of Session and our Deacon Board to Identify the top 5 Ministry/Mission Priorities in the 3/5 Year timeframe and ranked…by frequency of mention. These were subsequently reviewed by the session–appointed Mission Study Team in context of our full congregational survey. The two surveys were found to be well aligned and the recommended directions forward well suited to our current Ministry/Mission priorities.
Notations on each of the four Priority Pages,
10-13 follow with 2022 target action and primary individuals/groups responsible.
Children, Youth, Families, Growth
(almost 60% of top 2 priorities)
a) Weekly Children’s Sunday School and Young Child Care
In place but needed more Sunday School volunteers
b) Frequent Active Participation by Children In Worship:
. …reading, singing, greeting with parents
Some progress but more children needed on a regular basis, not just at special times – working on that
also see c & d below
c) Regular (quarterly) Children’s Outreach Events
This last year we held: Advent Adventure, Awesome Easter, VBS, Homecoming
d) After School Homewood/Drama/Choral Music Club
In planning stage for Sept. Joint effort Bob Grant, Pastor Bill, Christian Nurture
e) NEW: Find and fund part-time children/youth worker
Lynn B., Ken M, Leanne K., Pastor Bill
Worship and Music
a) Expand our great choir – mic them, and the congregation, especially for on-line viewing
Offer some basic voice/singing training for possible additions to choir?
Mics in planning stage – Worship Committee/Bob Grant early summer
b) Get the choir simple contemporary outfits and expand their range of musical styles
Conversation with choir underway re outfits.
Arrival/use of Digital Hymnal in early summer should contribute/spark focus on some more musical variety generally for both choir and congregation – Worship Committee
c) Add some contemporary songs-hymns for congregational singing
Same as b) above
d) More musical variety generally including instrumentation
Same as b & c above
e) Slightly further simplify the flow of worship and attend to smoother transitions from one part to another.
Worship Committee/Pastor – small steps through summer
#3 Priority Cluster
a) AV Tech Training
Ongoing evolutionary operation of a complex set of factors, equipment pieces and software elements
Team: John, Garth, Adrian, Mike, Bob
b) Adult Education/inward and outward
New long term women’s study began Sept. 2022
New adult study beginning Sept. 2022 after summer break
Men’s Friday Zoom study continues.
Wine & Word to resume in Nov. 2022
Grief Support Group under prelim consideration for Fall as a community offering
Summer Book Study offered as a community offering
Spiritual Transformation Committee
c) Miscellaneous Financial Issues
Addressed by an in-process review of how we use our space & how to be better stewards of it.
Team Mike E, Ken M, Garth B., Pastor Bill
d) Building and Grounds Issues
Addressed by an in-process review of how we use our space & how to be better stewards of it.
Team Mike E, Ken M, Garth B., Pastor Bill
e) Increased/Improved overall Participation & Communication
New members class offered beginning May 1 -nine new members joined our church as a result.
Monthly Newsletter to be reinitiated in September by volunteer(s) to be recruited and Tami Wallace.
Regular monthly verbal report to congregation re most recent session meeting to begin May 1 at Sunday Worship
#4 Priority Cluster
Particular Groups Focus
Refer to Session and Board of Deacons for discussion as to structure and organization
c) New women's study began fall 2022
d) Seniors that’s most of us!
Pastor to review/discuss with deacons
f) Food Insecure
Bread & Broth is back.
Phoenix Food Distribution is operating at new high levels.
Both have been brought under overview of Session
h) SLT Community
One of the focuses of the Spiritual Transformation Committee
is on offerings to the larger community