The Spanish-speaking people in this casino town used to call the church "quebradita," or "the little broken one." But the Jackpot Community Church - which almost didn't survive its trip from Eden to Nevada - finally welcomed its first worshipers over the weekend.
Four years ago, the people of Jackpot started a drive to bring a church to town, a home for the community's Catholics and mainline Protestants.Last year, Idaho's Catholic Archdiocese donated the building that once housed Eden's Catholic church. Preparations were made to move it to Jackpot, 67 miles away. En route, the church fell off its trailer and cracked in two pieces, requiring on-the-spot repairs near Hollister. A week passed before the battered building resumed its trip.
Now the church looks like new, with fresh coats of paint inside and white siding outside.
And as volunteers have made a whole building from one that was broken, so will the church try to help people make their lives whole.
"Jackpot needs so much healing," says the Rev. Peggi Kephart Boyce, who will serve as the church's Protestant minister.
Boyce moved to Jackpot in the Jackpot congregation.
The Jackpot Community Church's participating Protestant groups are the Church of the Brethren, United Methodist, Presbyterian Church (USA), American Baptist, Christian (Disciples) and Evangelical Lutheran. The building's completion also means Jackpot's Catholics will have a home. As many as 65 Catholics have crowded into services held in a single-wide mobile home used by the town's Missouri Synod Lutheran church.
Father Juan Garatea will continue to serve as priest to the town's Catholic community. Based at the Guadalupe Catholic Church in Twin Falls, he has traveled to Jackpot to conduct services each week for the past two years.
A plumber, electrician and carpet layer all were due. The anticipated crews even included inmates from the Nevada Honor Camp near Wells, who were assigned as part of their community service detail. Elwood Becker of Jerome, treasurer for Jackpot Community Church Inc., says work on the building was done through more than $75,000 in cash donations, $5,000 in discounts on materials, and volunteer labor and machine donations of more than $10,000.
Boyce's bilingual skills will be a blessing in Jackpot, where she estimates 50 percent to 75 percent of the population is Hispanic. Although most of the town's Spanish-speaking residents are Catholic, she expects she will help provide counseling services to them.
"I consider myself more a chaplain to the town than pastor of a congregation," Boyce said.
Boyce said a 24-hour town like Jackpot brings unusual demand on a church.
"Sunday morning doesn't work in Jackpot," she said. "Jackpot is on a totally different schedule."
So services are tentatively set late Sunday afternoons and midweek, and many other activities that might take part on Sunday in a more traditional church may instead be held on weekdays.
"I keep looking at Cactus Pete's," she said, gazing across a field to the town's biggest casino and its new 10-story tower. "I want the sunrise service next Easter to be on the top floor."