St. Stephens Episcopal Church
1241 Crawford Drive
Billings, Montana 59102
Dear Clergy Candidate:
Thank you for your interest in becoming the new rector at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Billings, Montana. This letter is intended to provide you with a snapshot of St. Stephens as our parish exists today, the values we hold important, the unique opportunities at St. Stephens, and what we hope to find in a rector. This is a part-time position, with negotiable allocation of compensation between salary and benefits. The church also provides a multi-bedroom apartment. If you feel that you are an appropriate fit for our parish, we encourage you to submit your application to the Rev. Canon J. Christopher Roberts, Diocesan Transition Minister, at email@example.com.
Who We Are:
St. Stephens is a warm, welcoming, and inviting community of Christians who hold dear the beauty and mystery of the liturgy. Our parish consists of people from all walks of life and socio-economic backgrounds filling the pews. Our parish places significant importance on welcoming and embracing new members, inviting them to join with us in the celebration of the Eucharist on Saturday evenings (Rite 1) and Sunday mornings (Rite 2).
St. Stephens is family-friendly, and includes several families with young children as members. As such, we feel it is our responsibility as a community to help foster an understanding and love of the Lord through a Sunday school program and youth participation in parish life.
At the forefront of our identity is “Community”. We are a community not just of fellow-worshipers, but of friends and neighbors. Nearly half of our parishioners have been a part of the St. Stephens community for more than ten years, and many have attended St. Stephens their entire life.
As a community, we feel it important that both the rector and laity alike take a role in building and fostering our sense of community and in growing the church. In this regard, it is imperative that we have various and open lines of parish communication. We currently have a monthly newsletter, website and weekly email. We have found that when the rector approaches parishioners with specific tasks or service requests, parishioners are willing to help and to serve.
Moving forward, we hope to call a rector who challenges and inspires us with thoughtful sermons, and provides compassionate and loving pastoral care to parishioners in need and shares a strong interest for the youth. Specifically, we desire that visitation continues to be provided to the homebound, and that pastoral care continues to those who are sick, bereaved, or are facing difficulties. In addition we desire the Church buildings and grounds receive the Priest’s attention.
The population of St. Stephens skews older, with approximately half of our members at or older than retirement age (i.e., 65); many of whom prefer the traditional worship style contained in Rite I. On the other hand, there are quite a few younger members and younger families with children who have a preference for components of contemporary worship style. Accordingly, it will be important for the incoming rector to reconcile these different points-of-view, and to accommodate preferences of all parishioners without alienating any particular group or person.
We also feel that it is important that members be encouraged and/or invited to participate in lay ministries. Whether lay ministry opportunities need to be created or already exist, members have expressed a desire to serve the St. Stephens community – they just need to be provided direction as to how their talents and skills can be utilized to assist others in need.
Compared to historical numbers, the membership of St. Stephens has decreased over time – consequently, so also has stewardship. Currently, St. Stephens has 292 baptized parishioners, 60 of whom attend regularly. As rector, you will have the opportunity to call new members and grow our parish. You will have the opportunity to develop and foster a mindset of giving and build a stewardship ministry that extends far beyond just the collection plate.
As a rector, you will be expected to not just be the spiritual leader of the church, but also to be our chief administrator. As such, you will have the opportunity to leave your mark by improving and maintaining the church building and grounds. You will be able to positively influence the impression that St. Stephens conveys to the Billings community.
Qualities Sought in a Priest:
St. Stephens is searching for an energetic priest who is personal and outgoing with a good sense of humor. The candidate must possess strong management and organizational skills, be accessible to members, and have the ability to develop a strong sense of community within the parish.
The candidate must be deeply spiritual, and must have a demonstrated ability to develop stewardship among members, and must have a desire to develop and maintain a program of Christian education for youth.
The candidate must be flexible and respectful in their decision making, have the ability to effectively arbitrate/mediate disputes and differences, and should seek to involve members in the planning and leading of church activities.
About Billings, Montana:
Ask residents about what they love about the city of Billings and you’ll more than likely get a plethora of responses that in some way all relate to the goodness of the people in the community. Billings is Montana’s Trailhead. Whether you choose Billings because of its resilient economy, education and medical opportunities, low crime rate, strong housing market, or the history and wonderful leisure ventures, you’ll find the people who do business here, raise their families here, retire here, and/or play here – genuinely enjoy the community in which they live.
The Billings area has evolved into a center of commerce with a great small town feel. It’s large enough to experience the community at your own pace, and small enough to still run into friends at the grocery store. In Billings, business is booming, people are enjoying life and the scenery is as original as the people.
Billings is a regional hub of commerce for an area that stretches in excess of 125,000 square miles. The city is a destination for consumers because it provides goods and services to a vast region. Billings is energized. It embraces its history, but looks forward to the future.
In addition to its role as a trade, service and energy mecca, the educational and medical communities provide tremendous options and opportunities for residents and people in outlying communities. Quality education can be found at all levels of curriculum. From pre-school diplomas to doctorates, Billings offers a full spectrum of top quality educational opportunities. The Billings Public School System is the largest in the state and boasts some of the most qualified educators in the nation. Montana State University Billings, Rocky Mountain College, University of Mary and the newly expanded MSU Billings College of Technology all offer innovative and competitive degree programs that draw students from across the region.
The city’s medical corridor provides the most advanced healthcare services in a four-state area, including Wyoming and the Dakotas. Two fully equipped and modern hospitals, St. Vincent Health Care and the Billings Clinic, offer care from a staff of doctors and healthcare specialists who have received national attention for their medical achievements. There are also 40 medical clinics, some that focus on homeopathic care. Hundreds of physicians offer quality care in every major medical specialty. A complete range of medical services, surgical services, and emergency care are available in the heart of the city.
Billings is where the plains meet the mountains. Enjoy rugged mountains, wildlife areas, open vistas, spectacular scenery and meet friendly, helpful people along the way.
 “About Billings” used with the permission of the Billings Chamber of Commerce. https://www.billingschamber.com/relocate/billings/
We have persevered during our period of transition: parents and congregants have stepped up to provide Sunday School for our youth, our core group of congregants has pitched in time-wise to keep our church and aging building in shape, and families and children have gathered for more social activities in the past year than in the previous years. For the greater community, our congregants worked with other churches to help provide food, supplies, and winter gear for the Northern Cheyenne Reservation as they struggled during a harsh winter.
We are open to change, to listen, and to continue to move forward and bolster our church. We have been having regular group discussions to shape goals for the future. We have been exploring and discussing ways to attract new and young families. We have been creatively keeping an aging building functional. We have continued to maintain open hearts and open minds.
Youth-oriented, engaging/inspiring, inclusive, communicative
We are a church that appreciates the traditions of the Episcopal Church and service.
We invite and reach out to individuals to volunteer for various tasks and in-church service duties. We have found a willingness by our congregants to fulfill requests if the members are specifically asked and invited to assist in specific ways.
For many years we provided our homebound congregants with communion and pastoral care, regularly held adult classes and Sunday school, we pray during the service and in our church newsletter for ailing congregants, and provide social interaction activities such as baseball games, in-church movie nights, barbecues, and potlucks. At times, meditation, bible study, small group gatherings, and dinner groups have been offered.
We provide time and supplies for an HIV/AIDS pantry and to deliver sandwiches to the Salvation Army for the homeless; we hold Foodbank Sundays to collect food; we provide space in our church for AA meetings to be held; our priest hands out gift cards to the needy on Fridays.
Our youth participate in summer programs with Camp Marshall, our statewide Episcopal Church camp. Additionally, the congregation learns about and holds fund drives for various world church and mission organizations projects (past drives were for projects located in Tanzania, India, Laos).
We have fundraised for and had a church presence at our local Relay For Life event. Steve Gerstner led the fundraising and church team. When motivated parishioners have had service projects they were passionate about, they were encouraged to take the lead organizing specific fundraisers and activities and the church would participate and support the endeavor.
Parishioners have provided time and know-how without charge to keep our aging building operating. Our monetary stewardship has declined due to lower congregation numbers during our transition period.
The community has experienced conflict as congregants left who believed St. Stephens should be more socially inclusive. As the state and national church began to allow same-sex marriage, other congregants then left who believed St. Stephens was becoming too socially liberal by not standing against same-sex marriage. This has been discussed in many meetings and group gatherings. We now have a core group of congregants who are committed to St. Stephens notwithstanding their political and social beliefs and this core group has increased involvement in providing lay services.
See answer to #11, above.
1241 Crawford Drive
Billings, MT 59102
Saturdays at 5:00 pm
Sundays at 10:00 am