THE REVEREND CANON BRADLEY S. WIRTH
For the last thirteen years, I have had the great pleasure of being the priest at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Whitefish - Columbia Falls. I was supposed to be with the communities that formed this church, one in Whitefish and the other in Columbia Falls, for about six months to help them find a Rector or pastor of the church. But one thing led to another, and after a few years, we joined together the two parishes, bought ten acres of a park like setting between the two towns, relocated one of the churches, added on to the structures we moved, and basically have had a marvelous time living into the challenges and opportunities that have come our way. Currently, we are trying to discern if we want to more than double the space we have enabling our whole community to worship together. In other words, we have been on the move all the while and it has been a privilege to serve with such a dynamic and talented group of people.
What I believe makes All Saints’ so remarkable is that while modest in size, we have an extraordinary ministry bursting at the seams. If you would like to see, in detail, what we do to engage in this ministry we’ve been given, go to the section of the website entitled, “About Us.” There you can find a detailed description of our outreach, worship, education, evangelism, and pastoral care. All of what we do comes from believing that we’ve been blessed with the exuberant grace of God and so we simply act accordingly. Quite frankly, there is nothing we seem to think is beyond us.
I am committed to joy. Joy conquers despair in all things. To that end, my belief is that nothing, and by “nothing,” St. Paul meant absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God. As well, when Jesus said that he would draw all to himself, he meant all, no exceptions. And if all that is the case, then we all are the beloved of God’s and, as such, need to continually act that way because that is who we are. I am a believer in grace overwhelming us all and therefore, we come to church to celebrate that, thank God for this station in life, and then leave to go out to change the world, as our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, has said, from the nightmare it can be to the dream that God has for all.
Our service style is what the church calls, “broad.” Because we are the only Episcopal Church in the immediate neighborhood (and in Montana, our neighborhoods are pretty large) we hope people are at home in worship regardless of their past experience in other churches. We do everything we can to make guests feel welcome the second they walk in the doors and we do so because what God has given us to do in the world requires all hands helping. If you are new to our service, it's easy to engage in our worship as we not only print out several copies of the service from soup to nuts, but we also have it electronically on five tablets, enabling those who are increasingly unaccustomed to paper, follow the entirety of the service. While we take worship very seriously, we are anything but twitchy. We want to worship with you. That is a gift God has given us.
One of my great joys is having the community look at us as “that crazy place that likes dogs and cats.” And it is true. We see the love of God extending to all of creation as well as God disclosing God’s self through creation. That means we take seriously the opportunity to not just learn from the animals but help them flourish. Two favorite times of the year for our parish involve the Blessing of the Pets around St. Francis Day, October 4th and during Lent, hosting our Annual Chili Open Golf Tournament in the snow to benefit animal welfare organizations. Go to “Annual Events” in this website to see video and still pictures celebrating the animals.
Living in northwest Montana is a privilege to be sure. It is one thing to just be continually dazzled by our surroundings but it is another to also see this as a canvas God has used to show us how stunningly blessed we are. There is not a day the mountains, lakes, trees and animals, as well as the people, do not teach me something new about being on this journey with Jesus. What an extraordinary privilege it is to be a harbinger of Good News immersed in the Body of Christ, the People of God!
Come join us and help us be what God dreams us to be, the People of Jesus making a difference in the world. And when you arrive, please call me “Bradley.” It will remind me that you are my brother or sister in Christ and in that, I could not be more favored by our Lord.
Bradley S. Wirth