We are a group of Orthodox Christian disciples of Jesus Christ. We are from all walks of life and a multitude of backgrounds and experiences: young and old, single and married, with and without children. We are native Montanans and happily transplanted residents. We’re just like you. The church of St. Nicholas is a cross section of Billings life, and possibly the only thing we all have in common is our desire to follow Christ as devout Orthodox Christians. It’s a hard road, but glorious.
Currently St. Nicholas Church draws people from far and wide from across the vast expanse of the Montana and northern Wyoming countryside. Some parishioners drive over three hours each weekend to worship. An increasing number of converts from other backgrounds are also shaping the fabric of the community as Orthodoxy continues its astonishing growth in Montana.
An aggressive mission program has been implemented with the hope that the St Nicholas parish will start new missions in the region. St. Anthony Mission has been planted in Bozeman, Montana, a fast-growing college town two and a half hours west of Billings, as well as the St. Moses the Strong mission in Helena, MT, the capitol of the state, and satellite missions are being formed in several other regions, as far away as Cody, WY.
Our community was one of the first to receive the three year mission planting grant from the National Church. Though Orthodoxy has a long history in Montana, including a parish consecrated by St Tikhon and served by Archimandrite St. Sebastian Dabovich in Butte, it has been inconsistent until the reception of the grant. The mission completed the grant in September 1997. The parish purchased a beautiful church building on 4th St. West and Lewis Ave. in Billings. The iconostas is the restored antique from Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles.
The Orthodox presence in Billings has existed since its founding as many ethnic groups followed the railroad and mining operations into Montana. As such, many Greek, Serbian, and Russian families settled into the area. The Serbian Diocese founded St Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Billings a number of years ago under the pastorship of His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI (Soraich) (now closed). Following some internal problems, a new parish was formed in 1988, St Nicholas of Myra under the Greek Archdiocese, who administered the area on a monthly basis for seven years. However, because of the dynamic and multi-ethnic fabric of Orthodoxy in the area, as well as a recent influx of converts, the parishioners decided in 1994 to enter the OCA and form St Nicholas of South Canaan Mission. This was the first Church in the world put under the patronage of St. Nicholas Velimirovich, a Serbian Bishop who suffered in Dachau prison camp and later came to America. He was a prolific writer (he wrote the famous Prologue from Ochrid) and became a leading proponent of Orthodox unity in America. The mission grew rapidly and has become the center for Orthodoxy in eastern Montana and northern Wyoming.
Billings itself is one of the fastest growing cities in the region, having grown over 40% in recent years. It has become the largest city in Montana and a center for farming, ranching, commercial, and medical activities. Known as the “Magic City”, Billings began as a railroad hub for the area. It epitomizes the old Wild West with rugged individualism and gracious hospitality. It is quickly becoming a tourist attraction because of its scenic setting (only 2 hours away from Yellowstone Park, the Beartooth and Pryor Mountains), great outdoor activities (the best trout fishing in the world is only thirty minutes away), and historical significance (with Little Bighorn and Native American Reservations). Billings is also home of the Montana fair and various other local fairs and events.
We invite and welcome you to visit and perhaps become a part of our exciting and growing Church community.
The patron saint of our parish is St. Nicholas of South Canaan, Bishop of Zhica, a man of whom it was said that he, in his earthly life,
“had seen the face of God.”
In our patronal icon, St. Nicholas holds in his hand a scroll which reads,
“No man can know the true God except through the risen Lord Jesus. Neither can any man know true man except through Him alone.”
This statement summarizes the focus of our parish—to “know” what it means to be “true man” in the light of our Creator’s love, and to enter into communion with Him through the liturgical, ascetical, and interior life of our Orthodox Faith.