Saint James Episcopal Church
203 E. Glendale St.
P.O. Box 1374
Dillon, MT 59725
406-683-2735 (Cell) 334-332-3222
THE MONTANA JOURNAL
No. 31 – July 29, 2019
WHAT I DO IS ME
FROM THE TIME I WAS TWENTY, I graduated early from college and began stumbling through a wilderness of jobs, as a teacher, a state employee, a college administrator, an advertising director, a human resources manager, a governor’s press secretary, and a banker. It was the curse of competence; I could do well whatever they paid me well to do, and I always wanted more. So for twenty years, I worked restlessly and studied relentlessly to become more. Along the way, working full-time, I completed a master’s degree and a ton of coursework in public relations, communications, administration, and higher education. And I still didn’t know who I was or why I was here.
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
On my second date with a little redheaded girl, I walked into a wedding at the Church of the Holy Comforter and fell in love—with the architecture, the liturgy, the music, the people in the pews, the priest (who was later my bishop), the bride and groom, the brass and silver, the prayer book, and the girl. And I still am, all these years later. Even more so. I discovered the “one thing” that I have always been best intended to do. And like that bell flinging out broad its name, to this very day, I speak and spell, crying, “Whát I dó is me: for that I came.”
Leigh and I came to Southwest Montana on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 2019. For seven months, we have devoted ourselves to the mission and ministry of Saint James, to the love and care of these people and this parish.
I know that change is difficult, and that can be especially true for people who love tradition as we do. But we love the Church and its worship of the Lord in the beauty of holiness. We love our high and holy days, our seasons and saints, our festivals and celebrations.
We have a beautiful 138-year-old church building, a parish that was established seven years before Montana became a state. We have an extraordinary Guild Hall that offers a place for civic clubs, community groups, nonprofit organizations, and others to meet.
We have committed lay people, vestry members, and dedicated coordinators in the areas of music, publications, altar guild, office administration, finance, and education. We have everything we need to do good work for the Kingdom of God.
We are also part of a strong and vibrant part of the Episcopal Church USA and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We are a parish church in the Diocese of Montana. At our Diocesan Convention last week in Bozeman, lay and clergy delegates elected the Rev. Marty Stebbins as the Tenth Bishop of Montana. Bishop-Elect Marty will be consecrated in Helena in early December as the first female bishop in Montana history!
At the closing Holy Eucharist on Sunday morning at St. James’ in Bozeman, we were proud to hear our own Mother Jane Shipp, retired Episcopal priest and former rector of our parish, give a splendid sermon. Mother Jane and her husband Dr. Clifford Shipp are beloved members of Saint James, and she serves as my able replacement when I am away.
Even Nick, my 12-year-old Border Collie, attended the closing worship at Diocesan Convention. He was a popular addition to Clergy Conference at Camp Marshall, and as a trained Emotional-Support Animal, Nick demonstrates unconditional love and appropriate behavior to everyone.
The members of our delegation hurried home after Diocesan Convention to attend a special event at Saint James Episcopal Church in Dillon. We worked on plans for weeks to host “Songs for My Grandmother,” a special concert in honor of Gerta Mular, a long-time member of our congregation.
Her grandson, John Tibbetts II, is a professional operatic baritone from Atlanta, Georgia. John, or “J2,” came to Dillon for an afternoon concert open to the public. He was joined by mezzo-soprano Victoria Isernia, and accompanied by Charlene Loge, an accomplished local pianist. The trio performed spirituals, broadway hits, opera, and popular music for a full gathering of parishioners and townspeople. This was a rare offering for us, reminiscent of the cultural events that were sponsored in the Guild Hall a century or more ago.
I was both delighted and encouraged by the events of the past several days. It seems that we have entered a new season of hope and confidence in our parish and in our diocese. I am grateful for the courage and confidence of our people, here in Dillon and throughout the Diocese of Montana, to believe that we can do great things—in Christ, for Christ, and with Christ.
THE MONTANA JOURNAL
No. 29 – July 12, 2019
GOING TO GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
IT’S NOT DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE a time millions of years ago when the landscape that is now Glacier National Park in northern Montana was a land filled with ice and snow. The vast, deep lakes of the Park are living reminders of once-active glaciers that gouged out enormous valleys, creating such unspoiled beauty and unique vistas as Leigh and I have never before seen.
I don’t want to suggest comparison with any other place or setting, for to do so lessens the magnificence of Glacier National Park as well as the particular beauty of all places. So I will simply try to describe what we saw there and little else.
The river waters are luminescent, varying in color from a deep blue to a pale green. Submerged stones are easily visible from the shore, and once in a while, trout as well. Because Glacier is on the Continental Divide, its rivers and streams are divided into two and at times three separate directions. And the waters run swiftly!
There are still glaciers and remnants of glaciers in the Park, among the high peaks and along the distant ridges. We had assumed that they had melted long ago, but that is not entirely true; a memory remains.
We saw glaciers being destroyed by Global Warming and Climate Change in Glacier Bay National Park on the Inward Passage of Alaska last summer. Glacier Bay is accessible only by water now, but Glacier National Park between Flathead Lake and the Canadian border can still be visited— although the Park is closed because of deep snow about half the year.
The mountains are very steep and heavily wooded with evergreens. The road through the Park twists and turns, and is extremely narrow in places and borders drop-offs of hundreds of feet. We shared the driving among the four of us and that proved to be a good idea.
We were overjoyed to have Margaret and Matt Franks join us on this great adventure. We marked Matt’s 30th birthday with much celebration and sightseeing, and they stayed at the Little Red House before and after the trip. Both are well and happy, living in Birmingham and bringing joy to their families and friends.
Leigh and I encourage you to come to Montana for many reasons, but be sure to make Glacier National Park one of them. At the height of the summer season, the temperatures were in the low 70s and the traffic was entirely manageable. There weren’t a lot of animals to see—but we did come across grizzly bears, deer, big horn sheep, and mountain goats. Remember that there is a lot of wilderness here and fewer roads! And the skies are incredibly blue.
I would be remiss if I didn’t put in a good word for Whitefish, Montana, a mountain town that was progressive, clean, and a happening place. Montana’s economy struggles in many spots, but not Whitefish. In winter there is skiing, snowboarding, ice-fishing, and shopping. In summer, it’s swimming, waterskiing, boating, fishing, and shopping. The only thing it lacks is an Episcopal church.
The one regret I have is that we didn’t get to see William and Christina Wood and their daughter Anna. They were visiting William’s son Marcelle (far right) who is battling pancreatic cancer. Leigh and I were hoping to see Marcelle and his family, so I could lay hands on that brave young man again and pray for his recovery.
Meanwhile, Leigh and I have a new second home, a faithful wonder dog (Nick) and reunited cat (Beckett), and open arms to greet you with when you come.
Peace and blessings,
THE MONTANA JOURNAL
No. 27 – July 4, 2019
WELCOME TO THE LITTLE RED HOUSE
LEIGH AND I ARE HAPPY TO WELCOME YOU to the Little Red House on South Washington Street in Dillon! Geoff and Kay aren’t completely through with the restoration and remodel, but we are overjoyed to be here and we finally feel like residents of Southwest Montana.
The house isn’t a “tiny house” like you would see on HGTV, but it’s close—about 875 sq. ft. not counting the basement. But don’t worry about us at all! Geoff and Leigh decided on an initial approach to “open up” the floor plan, and the result has been an entirely liveable and cozy great room that includes the living room, dining area, and kitchen. Leigh commissioned two stained-glass windows in various shades and shapes of crystal, blue, and gray. She chose furniture the same way, and the effect is very pleasing and comfortable. The wood floors are maple, though buried initially under decades of paint and grime.
We chose a Swedish Barn Red for the exterior, a wonderful idea from Kerriann Martin, a dear friend from back home. The white trim pops out, giving the house character and dimension
Dr. Thomas Fisher, one of my beloved student members at St. Dunstan’s, recognized the exterior color immediately as the exact same red used on all front doors of Episcopal churches! “Red means all are welcome,” Thomas wrote on Facebook recently, “Right?” I answered him, “Yes, just like the red doors of the Episcopal Church! You discovered our message! Thanks, my son. Wells+”
So now you know, whether our neighbors and others in Dillon do or not, what I’ve been saying for 25 years—that all are welcome in the Episcopal Church, and one of the signs of that is the red doors of the church.
Of course, one of the biggest mistakes we make is to assume that all we need to do is paint our doors red and people will know to come. It doesn’t work that way.
This same red, by the way, is the blood red of the Christian martyrs and the blood red of those who gave their lives for this country. The red, white, and blue of our American flag uses a particular red then, not any old red. And that’s also why Leigh and I are flying our American flag on the Little Red House in Dillon—and on our townhouse in Auburn too.
We will be working in the yard this Fourth of July, trying to make grass grow and weeds die; planting bushes and flowers; and putting everything in good and decent order. (Before you know it, all will be covered in deep snow!)
Nick the Wonder Dog will be resting on Independence Day, since Saint James is closed and there are no emotional support dog-duties for him to perform.
The cat, Beckett, recently brought to Southwest Montana by the irrepressible Leigh Warren, is getting accustomed to life in the Mountain West. He has no earthly idea about snow or 20F below zero temperatures, and had his first introduction to fearless Magpies the size of housecats in his own backyard. Most of the time he stays in the basement, like a fraidy cat.
And finally, we are very excited that Margaret and Matt Franks are coming to Montana on Sunday! They will be with us until Friday, and we will spend most of that time in Glacier National Park near the Canadian border.