Slides - History
1960s Aerial Church Property
Aerial View of Church Property, c. 1960
Growing St. Francis Makes the News, 1970
1992 Parish Hall Construction
1992 Parish Hall Construction
Worship in Kennel
John Millen, first full-time rector celebrating the Eucharist in the dog kennel.
Bob Friend, second full-time rector
Penny Bridges, third full-time rector
Early in its history, St. Francis, Great Falls struggled to gain a foothold as a mission church. Over succeeding decades our house of worship has gained its balance, grown, and now flourishes as a home for many parishioners. For more on the history of St. Francis Church, see History of St. Francis Episcopal Church.
Bill – Great Falls
I joined St. Francis in 1976 when church services were held in the converted dog kennel. That former place of worship is now completely renovated and called Harris Hall in honor of one of our founders, Collas Harris. I remember when trailers were used for Sunday school classes and that’s where I taught a group of four to six high school kids.
I later was elected to the Vestry and served as church treasurer, but my most rewarding job of all was as Chair of the Creche Preschool Board of Directors. There, under the direction of Creche Preschool Director, Jane Ruppe, and with the able help of the Boy Scouts of Troup 55, we cleared land and constructed an outdoor classroom for the Creche kids. They love to use it when the weather is nice, and it’s a good way for them to learn to appreciate nature. Two scouts earned their Eagle rank for organizing and supervising this construction project.
Clarence – Great Falls
When my family joined St. John’s, McLean, in 1968, St. Francis had been a mission church of St. John’s for about four years and St. Francis was struggling to stay alive. Our McLean congregation was dedicated to the survival of that church in Great Falls. St. Francis parishioners were wandering in the desert, without any stability or a real home. It would continue that way until well after 1980—at which time St. Francis began to assume some sort of an assured viability.
Then in 1980, a year after moving to Great Falls, our family joined St. Francis Church. We began the wonderful experience of actually contributing to “building a church.” While the congregation worked and played together, we also disagreed and argued with one another. Mama and I made wonderful friendships and learned from others in the congregation. One of our boys became the organist, two of them led the youth group, and three of them mowed the lawns. All of them benefited immensely from the youth activities — especially painting the vicarage.
Shrine Mont weekend, Bible study, the opportunities for service to others and our wonderful music program have always been the strongest features of our parish for us.
Kathleen – Great Falls
My parents moved to Great Falls in the early 1970s and St. Francis has been a part of my life ever since. I returned to the area after living on the West Coast after college. Since then, St. Francis has been the venue for several important rites for me: I was married in this church, my children were baptized here, my daughter was confirmed here, and we bid my father a final farewell from St. Francis. In short, St. Francis is my home.