The earliest notion of St. John’s began when a humble group of thirty-one Lutheran church leaders met together on November 18, 1958, at the Billings Starlight Terrace Restaurant. Their purpose was to consider the development of a home for older adults that would provide the finest possible quality of care and services.

Following a year of conversations and consultations, seventeen Lutheran congregations collaborated to found Lutheran Retirement Home, Incorporated on February 10, 1960. Soon after, St. John’s Lutheran Home became the name of reference.

On September 23, 1962, Montana Governor Tim Babcock was present for the blessing and groundbreaking of purchased property located at the corner of Rimrock and Shiloh Roads in Billings. The original building included 120 residences. As the nature of resident needs evolved, St. John’s expanded living areas and provided skilled nursing services.

In 1995, St. John’s and St. Vincent Healthcare partnered to form a joint venture corporation named Missions United. In joining assets of board leadership, land, and money, Mission Ridge opened three years later to welcome residents, creating Montana’s first full service continuing care retirement community.

In 1997, due to the diversity of services offered, St. John’s Lutheran Home was renamed St. John’s Lutheran Ministries.

Three years later, an appeal from Lutheran colleagues in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley that St. John’s provide management services to Sapphire Lutheran Homes in Hamilton.

Soon after, St. John’s became the second location in the United States to develop Green Houses, which are innovative cottages that house small numbers of long-term-care residents in a homelike environment.

As the first decade of the twenty-first century advanced, invitations surfaced from surrounding communities for St. John’s to develop additional retirement settings, which led to development of The Crossings in Laurel.

In 2016, Missions United opened WyndStone independent living, assisted living, and memory care in Billings Heights, which like Mission Ridge, is managed by St. John’s United. SkyRidge assisted living cottages were later added as related housing to WyndStone.

In 2019, leadership renamed the organization St. John’s United to  communicate missional unity throughout all campus locations, and to express inclusive welcome to an increasingly diverse culture.

Also in 2019, the innovative At Home service line began providing people the opportunity to remain living in the place they call home while belonging to the larger St. John’s United community. 

In 2020, a portion of the original building was replaced with an affordable housing community named Chapel Court, offering improved residences and more welcoming public spaces.


Since its founding, St. John’s has consistently provided for the health care needs of its residents while nurturing wellness.

In 2005, St. John’s constructed a transitional rehab cottage on the Billings campus to provide short-term inpatient health care. Eighteen years later, a portion of the original Legacy building  that once housed residents was transformed into a modernized thirty-six-room Transitional Rehab Center. The previous rehab cottage was repurposed to house assisted living residents. Another portion of the Legacy building will soon be transformed into a modernized outpatient clinic for nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

In 2013, St. John’s partnered with Billings Clinic and Big Sky Senior Service to launch a home-based services initiative named St. John’s United Home Health and Hospice. Through this Medicare-approved venture, skilled nursing, therapy, and hospice services are offered to people within their homes.


Since its founding, St. John’s United has held spiritual care at the center of its mission. A qualified spiritual care team is ever available for all St. John’s communities to accompany people through life transitions, healthcare decisions, bereavement or to converse about specific religious matters. These spiritual caregivers also provide leadership for weekly worship experiences, funerals, weddings, and other liturgical needs. 

In 1996, St. John’s opened a licensed childcare center as a benefit to employees and to the community, serving children spanning the ages of six weeks to twelve years.

Four years later, at request of the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, St. John’s assumed management of Lutheran Social Services of Montana, which provides licensed adoption placement servicespregnancy supportfoster care child services, supportive family services, and mental health counseling. Now known as St. John’s United Family Services, outreach and care continue to be extended to employees and community members.


The St. John’s Foundation was created in 1989 to inspire philanthropic action to financially sustain St. John’s and the people it serves. The Foundation annually conducts a funding campaign known as Seeds of Kindness to support the needs of residents, employees, and organizational operations. The Foundation also invites people to consider planned gifts that are invested into permanently endowed funds. The Legacy Circle honors those who have included the St. John’s Foundation in their estate planning or through large asset gifts to the Foundation’s Endowment.

In recent years, the Foundation expanded its philanthropic intent by bolstering volunteer services that connect people with meaningful experiences of serving throughout St. John’s communities. The Foundation also generates community events such as the Summer Concert Series that brings people together to experience the joy of music.

Through a planned gift in 2020, the Foundation assumed ownership of the downtown billings Gainan’s building. Now named Gainan Commons, this landmark structure houses St. John’s United Family Services, Home Health and Hospice, offices for Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, and the St. John’s United Greenhouse. The Greenhouse grows fresh produce to feed residents, serves as a learning context for Billings Public Schools students, and provides volunteer opportunities for residents.

Driven by a love in Christ for those who most need to be lifted high, those first faithful founders who gathered in 1958 were never about buildings and places, it was always about people. Commitment, compassion, and innovation have inspired St. John’s United in its abiding mission to provide living opportunities within nurturing environments of hope, dignity, and love.