The earliest notion of St. John’s United began when a humble group of thirty-one Lutheran church leaders met together November 18, 1958 at the Starlight Terrace Restaurant in Billings. Their purpose was to consider how to develop a home for older adults that was rooted within the Christian religious faith and compassionate practices. Questions surfaced and debate commenced about the nature of what to construct, how to secure resources, and how to engender affinity for such a project. The group was guided in their considerations by Pastor John Mason, who then served on staff of the Churchwide body known as the American Lutheran Church.
Seventeen founding Lutheran congregations provided source for electing the first thirteen Board of Directors in 1960. Founding Board members planned the scope of the project, acquired land, selected an architect, developed a budget, hired builders, raised money, and secured financing. The primary source for financing was a 50 year Housing and Urban Development loan which was the first of its kind for a retirement home project in Montana.
The original name for this venture was Lutheran Retirement Home Incorporated, but the founding Board soon chose to do business under the name, St. John’s Lutheran Home. On November 19, 1963, St. John’s opened its doors to welcome residents who soon filled all 129 retirement home apartments and common living areas.
In 1997, following expansion of campus buildings and human service offerings, St. John’s changed its name to St. John’s Lutheran Ministries. In 2019, following further expansion of human services, St. John’s rebranded its name for doing business as St. John’s United.
The founders of St. John’s responded to an inherent calling and responsibility to care for one’s human neighbors, especially those who were seeking a place to call home and where their needs in later years would be met with hope, dignity, and love. Since its founding, St. John’s United has now served the people of Montana for over half a century and remains one of the largest eldercare providers in the state. Throughout those years, St. John’s has abided in the missional intent of its founders while adapting to the ever-changing needs of individuals and communities that people live within. St. John’s healthcare and comprehensive family services now provide the very best continuum of care for every stage of life.
St. John’s identifies itself as a social ministry organization affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is currently owned by twenty-five Lutheran congregations. It values collaborative partnerships and benefits from the philanthropic generosity of donors and volunteers.