Richard N. Velotta
Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 | 2 a.m.
With gambling, drinking and partying accessible at nearly any hour of the day, Sin City may seem an unlikely place for faith to flourish.
But each week, hundreds of thousands of valley residents turn out to worship at churches, synagogues and mosques, practicing faiths ranging from Catholicism to Sikhism.
As the valley’s population boomed over the past several decades, so did its faith communities.
More than half a dozen Christian “mega-churches” — loosely defined as churches with more than 2,000 members attending services per week — have sprouted across the valley, often growing from small gatherings in strip malls or hotel ballrooms into large congregations based on multi-acre church campuses.
These churches join a religious ecosystem that includes strong representation from the Catholic and Mormon faiths as well as numerous, smaller denominations.
Here’s a look at some of the biggest churches from various faith communities around the valley:
Calvary Chapel Spring Valley
Calvary Chapel Spring Valley was started in the 1980s as a small church based out of a preschool. As the church grew, it rented space in a shopping center in the west valley, before moving into its current 20-acre campus at 7175 W. Oquendo Road, near Rainbow Boulevard and Russell Road.
The church, which now draws more than 2,500 worshippers a week, also includes a school that covers preschool through 12th grade and more than a dozen ministries. The church offers three services on Sunday, one on Wednesday evenings and another Saturday evenings.
Shadow Hill Baptist Church
This Baptist community has its roots in the West Oakey Baptist Church, which was founded in 1964 in a trailer with 30 charter members, according to Pastor Rodney Melhuish.
The community grew through the decades and moved into its current location at 7811 Vegas Drive, which includes a worship center, a fellowship center, a recreation center and a children’s building.
The church’s membership currently sits around 3,800 people, with about 2,700 worshippers on average attending one of three Sunday services.
Canyon Ridge Christian Church
One of the largest churches in the valley, Canyon Ridge Christian Church draws more than 6,000 people to its weekend services, which are offered twice on Saturday evening and twice on Sunday morning.
Located at 6200 W. Lone Mountain Road, the nondenominational church offers programs and groups for adults and children of all ages.
The Church at South Las Vegas
The Church at South Las Vegas’ first service was in the home of one of its pastors in 2002 and was attended by a few dozen people.
Since then, the church has occupied several locations before moving into its building at 3051 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy., where it now draws approximately 3,000 people every weekend for one of its four services.
The church also streams its services online, drawing another 1,000 Web viewers each week.
International Church of Las Vegas
The International Church of Las Vegas was started in a living room in 1987 and has since grown to encompass four physical campuses in the valley, plus an online campus.
The nondenominational church draws more than 5,000 attendees to its weekend services, with its largest branch in Summerlin at 8100 Westcliff Drive, which offers three Sunday services. Other locations are 3425 Cliff Shadows Pkwy. in the western valley, 911 G St. in downtown Las Vegas, and 6620 W. Katie Ave. in Spring Valley. Each of those locations offers one weekly Sunday service.
Central Christian Church
The church has campuses in Henderson, Summerlin, the southwest valley and the northeast valley. Each offers different service times. Weekend and daily services are also streamed online through the church’s website.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church
The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas, which covers Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Nye and White Pine counties, has about 643,000 members.
The largest parish in the diocese is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 1811 Pueblo Vista Drive, which has about 34,700 members.
The church offers daily Masses, along with one Saturday evening and six Sunday Masses.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Individual congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints typically have between 300 and 600 members, but with 200 congregations across the Las Vegas Valley meeting at dozens of locations, the collective presence of the Mormon church is strong in Southern Nevada.
Statewide, the church reports it has about 176,000 members.
Congregation Ner Tamid
Congregation Ner Tamid is the largest reform synagogue in Southern Nevada and is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism. It was founded in the 1970s and has grown from 80 families in 1988 to more than 700 families today, with about 2,500 total members.
The synagogue is at 55 N. Valle Verde Drive in Henderson.
Jamia Masjid mosque
The 20,000 to 30,000 Muslims who make up Southern Nevada’s Islamic community can worship at one of five mosques across the valley.
Mosques don’t have defined memberships — “Anyone can walk in any mosque anywhere,” said Aslam Abdullah, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada. “Each one of us considers ourselves to be part of every mosque.”
However, the Jamia Masjid mosque, at 4730 East Desert Inn Road, consistently draws the most worshippers, with upwards of 600 people in attendance on Fridays and about 30 people attending one of five daily prayers.