St. James Bozeman History

Bozeman, Montana was a community of 40 dwellings and 3 stores when The Rt. Rev. Daniel Silvester Tuttle, the recently consecrated Bishop of Montana, having traveled from his headquarters in Salt Lake City, arrived in Bozeman on June 30, 1868.  Ulysses S. Grant was still President of The United States of America and the young town was becoming a pivotal outpost of westward expansion.

On Sunday, July 5, 1868, the first Episcopal service in the Gallatin Valley was conducted by Bishop Tuttle in the Methodist Church of Bozeman, a simple wooden frame building with a dirt floor at the corner of Main Street and Templar (now Tracy) Avenue.  What would become a prospering congregation began with 6 communicants.  Tuttle, determined to establish a congregation in Bozeman, acquired land for a mission church the following year.  He did so in 1869, purchasing lots from Mr. E.A. Rouse at a cost of $25.00 each.

On June 19, 1870, the Bishop again visited Bozeman when he had a "full congregation with organ and chants and offerings of $27.75."  He was accompanied by Fr. Goddard, the Rector of St. Paul's in Virginia City, Montana.  While traveling to Bozeman, Goddard almost drowned when crossing Willow Creek.  It is likely that the near mythical physical strength of Tuttle saved the man from death.  Legend has it that Goddard fell from his horse and was being pulled under by the rushing current.  Tuttle rushed to his aid and, from horseback, plucked the frantic priest from the waters.

Today, The Rt. Rev. Marty Stebbins serves as our bishop. She began her tenure in December 2019.

In November 1875, the first resident priest, The Rev. Thomas E. Dickey, arrived in Bozeman to take charge of the mission.  The mission was named after St. James the Greater because of a silver chalice and paten given to the church by the "Young Ladies' Bible Class" of St. James Parish in Philadelphia.  This silver service set is still used every Sunday morning at St. James.

During Dickey's tenure, the first church building was erected in 1876, and consecrated just 4 months after the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  This simple wooden frame building would house congregational worship for the next 14 years.  Dickey was succeeded by The Rev. Frank B. Lewis, who arrived in August of 1879 and who served as Rector for the next 32 years.  When he arrived, the church had 19 communicants.  Under his leadership, the rectory at 9 West Olive Street was built in 1883 and is still used today for Family Promise and Christian Formation activities.

Within the decade, Lewis began the construction of an architectural masterpiece.  Using sandstone from Montana quarries and fir from Montana forests, a towering western Gothic structure was built at the corner of Tracy and Olive Streets.  The cornerstone was laid on May 8, 1890 and held numerous articles of note (partial list): a Bible, Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal, the April 27th Helena Independent, the May 7th Bozeman Chronicle, the May 3rd Living Church, the 1890 Church Almanac, photographs of Bishop Tuttle, Bishop Brewer, Fr. Lewis and the parish choir respectively, a list of communicants and names of vestry members. Bishop Brewer presided over the laying of the stone with a Prayer Book Service attended by many community leaders.

Services were held in the new church on the first Sunday of October.  Dressed in their Sunday finest, parishioners were greeted by the bell tower, which rises 80 feet above the ground below, and elegant cathedral glass windows of German design.  Inside they found furniture and pews of strong and solid oak.  The bell rung that day by Fr. Lewis was given to the church in 1883 by Mrs. W.J. Beall, a charter member of the parish, and still welcomes people to worship today.

Since that day, memorial stained glass windows have been added.  A window honoring scouting was installed in the entrance way and another picturing the holy family was placed in the sanctuary to the east of the altar.  It should also be noted that a window from the original 1876 church building was placed to the west of the altar.

Fr. Frank Lewis was respected and loved throughout the community.  His 32 years is the longest tenure of any rector at St. James.  He is buried at Sunset Hills cemetery above beautiful Lindley Park.  The majestic head stone rises high above the surrounding area as a testament to the esteem in which Bozeman held the beloved rector.

The succession of clergy at St. James is impressive, including two rectors, William Fisher Lewis and Hanford Langdon King, Jr., who later became Bishops in the Episcopal Church. William Tatem Reeves was rector from 1936 to 1942.  In 1939, work on the parish hall and chapel was begun.  The Chapel of The Resurrection was completed in 1940, constructed primarily by the the men of the parish and dedicated to the memory of Charles H. and Charles E. Fridley.  Built in the early Norman style of the chapels of Europe, it was designed by Dorothy Miller and consecrated by Bishop Daniels on November 13, 1940.  It should be noted that Miller was bed-ridden when she put her vision and plans for the chapel down on paper. She attended the consecration in an ambulance bed.  The chapel lies beneath the nave of the parish with its altar positioned directly underneath the nave's altar.

Work on the parish hall ceased during World War II, and was completed after the war. Reeves also restored the historic rectory.  Then, during the tenure of James Donald Skinner (1941-50), the parish hall was completed and the nave restored.  The parish hall was built in memory of Louis Schoenek.  The lumber for the project was all cut, sawed and hauled by Louis' father from his saw mill on South Meadow Creek.  The administrative wing of the church, which lies above the parish hall and contains the Guild Room, classrooms and offices, was constructed during the tenure of Fr. Hanford King, Jr. and consecrated by Bishop Daniels in 1954.

The Rev. Ernest L. Badenoch began his leadership of the parish in 1964 and provided devoted pastoral care during the troubled Vietnam and Watergate eras.  To this day, people can still "hear the voices and footsteps of the Badenoch children in the halls of the rectory."

In 1967, following 30 years of efforts by the parish, the congregation welcomed the installation of a beautiful Laukhuff organ which was built in West Germany and shipped to Bozeman for reassembly.  The organ, which is central to worship at St. James, weighs 6 tons and is worth its weight in gold.

The organ was designed by master organ builder Eric A. Fiss.  Commissioned by the vestry in 1965, he followed the tonal concepts of renowned 17th century master organ builder, Arp Schnitger.  The organ is constructed of German golden oak and walnut, Brazilian pine and African mahogany.  The keys, in keeping with 17th century tradition, are made of boxwood. The pipes, cabinet work and mechanical parts were all made by hand.  Today, Connie Campbell-Pearson serves as organist and provides the parish with music that reflects a broad range of worshipful expression.  A beautiful grand piano was given to the parish by Annalee Anderson.  Brought overland by Studebaker wagon, circa 1900, the magnificent instrument graces our nave.

On Ascension Day 1979, The Rev. John R. McGrory was instituted as the rector of St. James. As rector, he called for an increase in the parish's "responsibility to reach out to those who are unchurched," and to increase commitment to total Christian education for adults and children. McGrory was a leader in diocesan affairs, serving as chair of the Commission on Minstry, on the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council.  In 1979, Bishop Jackson Gilliam gave responsibility for ministry to Montana State University to St. James and a chaplaincy program was established. December 1995 marked the end of Fr. McGrory's 40 years of active ministry and the beginning of his retirement.  After being diagnosed with cancer, McGrory faced life and death with grace and dignity.  He passed away on June 4, 1997 and is still dearly loved and respected by this parish and community.

The man chosen to follow McGrory as rector of St. James arrived in Bozeman that very same day from Colorado where he had served on the Bishop's staff and as the vicar of a small mountain mission in the southwest corner of the state.  The Rev. Dr. Clark M. Sherman began his tenure as the 15th rector of the parish on July 1, 1997 and has presided over unparalleled growth in membership and ministry.  Sherman is known for his energetic and pastoral style of leadership and his love of the Lord and the people of St. James.  Dr. Sherman also serves as Regional Canon for the Diocese of Montana, and has served as Dean of the Tuttle Deanery and President of the Standing Committee a number of times. He is the Cardinal (Senior) Rector of the diocese.  Sherman is ably assisted by a gifted staff that includes both laity and clergy.  Throughout the years office administration has been carried out by Evelyn Halpin, Janie Walker, Carol Jo Thompson, Lorel McChesney, Rosemary Freemyer, Hilary Trainer, Sarah Krumm and now Ellen Robinson.

Parish-based college ministry remains a priority at St. James.  Eugenie Drayton served as Campus Chaplain, providing numerous programs on and off-campus for students, faculty and staff, for many years.  Ecumenically, St. James is associated with Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian ministries at Christus.  Fr. Clark currenlty serves as chaplain to the university community. 

Prior to Drayton, The Rev. Jane Shipp served as chaplain and Assistant Rector of the parish.  During her tenure, St. James conducted an exquisite and highly praised Choral Evensong program using students from the university.  While serving St. James, Shipp also provided services to Gethsemane Church in Manhattan, Montana.  For a number of years, The Rev. Valerie Webster provided services to Gethsemane while she coordinated Young Family Minister at St. James and served as assistant priest for the parish.  She is now an associate at All Saints, in Big Sky.

Parish youth ministry was sustained for a number of years by faithful laity like Tom Bozeman. From 2001 to 2005, Eugenie Drayton served as the ministry coordinator.  Since then youth ministers have included Louis Sherman, Mary Jett, Alan Cartwright, Reagan Grabbe, Jill Mackin, Emily Thrasher, and Rachel Toombs. A talented group of college interns work with us to provide programming for children ages 3 through 18.  Godly Play, a program for small children, was developed by Dr. Jamie Sherman at St. James. We now have a fully-developed program for 3rd-5th graders as well.

St. James has been blessed with the presence of a number of retired clergy. Always willing to provide assistance, these individuals have always been available to serve when needed. They have include The Revs. George Zabriski, Bruce McNab, Glen Gleaves and Bishop Dub Wolfrum.

The Rev. Mary Piper, who began ministry as a deacon at St. James, served as Chaplain at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for a number of years.  Vocational lay minister Dr. Sandy Osborne, currently serves as hospital chaplain.  The Ven. Roxanne Klingensmith, who was ordained a deacon at St. James on May 8, 1999, is known for her active ministry in the community, parish and diocese.  She is currently the Archdeacon of the diocese under Bishop Stebbins and a long-time member of the Commission on Ministry. She was instrumental in the development of Family Promise, an inter-faith ministry to homeless families, and carries out a vitally important ministry at the Gallatin County Detention Center.

On December 1, 1999, the parish purchased property across the street owned by Grace Bible Church.  The property is now home to St. James' Canterbury House and Park, the St. James parking lot and a basketball court.  The Park was designed and developed by parishioners and is used today for baptisms, weddings and fellowship activities.  Baptisms are celebrated at a font donated by Al & Arlene Fiscus, who have also donated a sculptured metal cross, which stands amidst the flowers, and a beautifully carved marble tablet featuring the Ten Commandments that have been placed in the garden adjacent to the nave.  The aforementioned font is made of pink Montana granite and weighs nearly 2 tons.

The Canterbury House was built in 1876, by a Mr. Lewis.  It was the first such residence built by an African-American west of the Mississippi and, like the rectory and nave, is considered an historic treasure.  All three structures are a part of the historic registry.  The Todd Center for Christian Formation, a structure just to the north of the nave, was purchased in 1995 and has been renovated for Christian formation and other ministries, like Godly Play.  Prior to the dedication of the Todd Center in November of 2005, the church had leased the space to a local dentist and the Gallatin Community Clinic.

With the advent of a new century, restoration became a priority at St. James with projects to restore both the rectory and nave.  These and the Canterbury project received awards and recognition from the City of Bozeman for historic preservation and beautification. A renovation of the chapel took place as well, funded by Paula Daws in memory of her husband, Archie. The chapel's altar rests directly beneath the Nave's altar and is adorned with beautiful wood carvings by Jack Olson and given by Bill and Bonnie Bennett in memory of their parents. An anonymous parishioner donated Stations of the Cross.

This vision of restoration was birthed and nurtured by Jayne Scott, who served as Jr. Warden during this time. The nave restoration project reached completion in 2003. This effort included the restoration of pews, stained glass windows, plastered walls, new carpet, lighting and ceiling fans given by Eldon and Elizabeth Dodge.

The gospel-side sanctuary stained glass window is from the original 1876 church building. The pews and cork tile floor are all original. Stations of the Cross are authentic replicas of circa 1890 stations. A restoration of the Narthex and Guild Room was completed and dedicated in October 2008. The guild room was named for Jeanne Roby in honor of her years of parish service. Care of the physical plant is overseen by our Jr. Wardens.

Central to these, and other projects of note, is the Episcopal Church Memorial Foundation. Such projects have included: various remodeling and restoration efforts, the Laukhuff organ, sprinkler system, ramps and elevator for the handicapped, a new parish hall kitchen, columbarium, purchase of 111 South Tracy and Grace Bible Church properties.  The Foundation also awards annual scholarships to deserving high school seniors in memory of Deene Rognlie, and supports Camp Marshall, the Episcopal Diocesan camp for adults and youths, on a regular basis.

Established in 1959, the Foundation is to receive, manage, and disburse gifts and contributions given to the Church for purposes other than current operational expenses of the church.  Stated purposes include: physical plant expansion and improvements, aid in the establishment of chapels and missions in adjacent areas, aid to seminary students, support of programs for religious instruction and education, stimulation and development of activities of a Christian nature in the surrounding area, and continuing education for parish clergy. Every baptized member of St. James who is active in their support of the ministry is a member of the Foundation.  The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees elected by the parish at its annual meeting.  The Foundation was ably led by Jeanne Roby for a number of years.  Current board president is Jim Mitchell.

On November 19, 2000, St. James celebrated its 125th Anniversary (of the building of the church in 1876) with a festive weekend of worship and celebration.  For the occasion and at the request of Fr. Sherman, Dr. Clifford Shipp composed a magnificent sacred service in the musical setting of the traditional Anglican Mass with Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Benediction.  The work featured the St. James choir, a soprano soloist and area musicians. In his sermon, Sherman quoted from the 80th Anniversary (of the first service in 1868) sermon of The Rev. Skinner when he said, "The names of the people are the foundation stones of any Church, and their love for God and each other the cement that holds them firmly in place. The same is true of us."  Both sermons (1948 & 2000) ended with these words, "Look up, not down.  Look out, not in.  Look forward, not back.  And give me your hand."

Christian Education and formation programs for all ages, such as Godly Play, Youth Groups, Adult Bible Studies, Rector's Study Fellowship, Inquirers' Classes, and various adult offerings are an important part of life at St. James.  Our chapter of The Order of St. Luke the Physician sustains a healing ministry for the parish.  Our Lay Eucharistic Visitors, Love, INC., Family Promise, Survivors and Housing First Village provide valuable service and ministry to those in need.  Dozens of dedicated lay people empower these ministries through their volunteer efforts. Many of these programs are led by the laity.  Deacons Roxanne Klingensmith and Connie Campbell-Pearson have been instrumental is leading Survivors and First Village. They are also the driving force behind the diocesan School of Deacons. It should be noted that St. James was a founding entity of Family Love, INC. and First Village, as well as Family Promise. 

Three Sunday morning Eucharist services provide a variety of worship opportunities for the people of St. James and the community. Adult choir, a renewal music team, and gifted musicians provide the congregation with a versatile musical landscape.

After many years of faithful service, Judy Suvak and Dr. Douglas Bartholomew built a formidable choir program at St. James. Curently, Breezy Cutler serves as our choir director.  The choir includes gifted students from MSU. Our contemporary Music Team is led by Susan Johnston & Connie Campbell-Pearson, after years of faithful service by Chris McGary.

Worship at St. James has been sustained and supported for 150 years by a faithful Altar Guild. The guild is ably led by Sharon Eversman. These volunteers take their ministry very seriously, and are an inspiration in service to the Lord. The same is true of parish acolytes, lectors, chalicers and ushers. Mary Wisman and Vicki Van Rensselaer are instrumental in providing lay leadership for these groups.

It has been said that evidence of a spiritually healthy parish is found in its ability to raise up individuals for vocational ministry.  St. James exhibits this strength, not only in its empowering of the laity, but in its nurturing of aspirants for holy orders. During the past 25 years, St. James has seen the ordinations of Jane Shipp, Mary Piper, Roxanne Klingensmith, Valerie Webster and Margaret Ayers, Mary Jett, Donna Gleaves, and Reagan Gonzalez. On June 1, 2014 the parish celebrated the new ministry of The Rev. Connie Campbell-Pearson.  She is working with a number of parish ministries and community outreach, including serving at Gethsemane in Manhattan. Connie's work at Gethsemane has led to the small mission church more than doubling in size. Most recently, The Rev. Greg Smith, a former Roman Catholic priest, was received by the Episcopal Church and is serving as assistant priest at St. James and Gethsemane. Fr. Greg is currently a member of the diocesan Standing Committee.  

Mutual or shared ministry between clergy and lay people is central to life at St. James with over 50 ministries and hundreds of lay ministers.  2005 marked the birth of The Order of St. James, a forum through which exemplary lay people can be honored for years of service. Each year the rector selects worthy individuals and submits their names to the vestry for endorsement. The founding members of the Order were John Kerr, Thelma Newby, and Dottie Miller.  

With a parish family of over 500 people, St. James has become a force in the community, diocese and region. She remains on the "cutting edge" of Christian formation, pastoral care and mutual ministry, empowering the laity to serve as ministers in the church.  

Under the dedicated leadership of Canon Sherman, gifted clergy and staff, a vestry committed to seeking God's will in all things and dedicated parishioners, St. James looks to the future with great expectations and faith. It all began nearly 150 years ago with a pistol-packing Bishop, a Bible and a Prayer Book - and the story has only just begun.

"Sharing Abundance Together in Christ"