Saint John's Episcopal Church : Emigrant, Montana Rotating Header Image

About Us



Nestled in the four-corner town of Emigrant, Montana, a stone’s throw from the Yellowstone River and 35 miles from Yellowstone National Park, is Saint John’s Episcopal Church. The chapel was built in 1901 by hardworking people who shared a vision bringing God and community together in the aptly named Paradise Valley. That vision’s legacy continues to this day.

An average of 40 congregants gather for 8 a.m. services. During the summer and fall, the parish is blessed with additional members who choose to winter elsewhere.  Summer months often see pews filled with 60 or more people. June marks the first of the returns of these long-time friends to the church, allowing the snow birds and regulars to reconnect and share welcomes and stories of past months.

The year round congregation includes ranchers, farmers, teachers, writers, retirees, singles and married couples. While the average age of the congregation is above 50, several families with young children and teens have found Saint John’s a warm and welcoming place. Blessed with the recent addition of young families, kind-hearted volunteers provide Sunday School to the youngest members during the readings and sermon. The children return from class to participate in the Eucharist, which is open to all who come to the rail. There is no litmus test at Saint John’s to take the bread and wine, “for at God’s table, everyone is welcome.”

Saint John’s, situated in the middle of the 38-mile long Paradise Valley, has been enriched by generations of families dedicated to ensuring that the history and legacy of service to the community beyond the congregation is imparted to all its members. This is a hands-on church with emphasis on openness, friendliness, and ready volunteers when there is need. The love that is so often spoken of in churches is more than talk at Saint Johns. Newcomers often share that they feel the warmth upon walking in the door. This caring atmosphere is the reason many visitors return and stay. Saint John’s is a safe place where ideas and questions are welcome and encouraged.

Saint John’s is blessed with an array of talented people to help run the church on day to day business.

Perhaps the most successful and important volunteer service is the “Come to the Table” breakfast. Every Sunday, cooks and bakers share homemade food with their church family. Volunteers sign up to bring egg dishes, meats, fresh fruits, and home baked breads. (Pancakes with homemade chokecherry syrup are always a treat!) This breakfast feeds bodies and souls and has brought a personal closeness to the congregation. Many lifetime friendships have risen from St. John’s yeast by sharing bread at the Eucharist and at the breakfast table. The value of this breakfast tradition can’t be overstated.

In line with this faith and food tradition, the church also collects several hundred pounds of food annually, (all donated by church members,) for a local food bank.

At Saint John’s, there is a strong emphasis on congregants participating beyond Sunday services. This is not regarded as a burden. Some examples of our community minded ministries include a Care Committee that provides visits to anyone in the area in times of need, no matter their faith or lack of faith. In addition, the Friendship Fund makes money available anonymously, (raised by pancake suppers, etc. and supplemented by the church budget) for people in emergencies, such as fires, illness, or the loss of a family member.

It is always a special Sunday service to witness the blessing of beautifully crafted shawls made by loving hands and sent locally and throughout the nation to those who need comfort. The heartfelt thank you notes we hear during Sunday announcements tell us that we are making a difference.

Other committees include: the Altar Guild and Finance Committee (an amazing panel of respected individuals who oversee professional management of the church’s investment in order to assure long-term continued outreach for the greater Paradise Valley community.) Sunday music is provided by a pianist and organist, both volunteers. Minor repair and maintenance is volunteer-driven. The Church acreage is kept mowed and groomed by volunteers as well.


A part time paid administrator, who is a member of the congregation as well, takes care of mailings, records, correspondence with the diocese, vestry minutes, and Sunday bulletins.   As with any volunteer in the church, this minimal description hardly begins to describe all of the love and extra attention our administrator brings to the table. Personalized cards are printed to be signed by parishioners and sent to those we know, whether celebrating or grieving. Additionally our administrator sends an email weekly to members, with current events, upcoming special events, and usually a personally written, inspiring essay to keep congregants actively exploring their relationships with Christ.  Currently the church is preparing to expand its social media outreach reflecting the times of communications technology.

The church treasurer, cleaning services, and kitchen supervisor are all handled by volunteers from the congregation and are paid a small stipend.

The Vestry is comprised of five members, including a retired rancher who leads as Senior Warden; a retired postmaster who is Junior Warden; a National Park Service archivist; an owner of an outfitting business, and a retired journalist.

Saint John’s congregation has been patiently guided and reminded each Sunday to go forward in love as taught by Jesus. The message is simple; the work on-going.

Peace be with you





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Service Times & Directions

Sunday Worship: 8:00 AM

Reverend David Gunderson, Rector

8 Story Road • Emigrant, MT • (406) 823-0463

Map and Directions

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