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Trinity Lutheran Church Celebrates 125 Years in Kalispell

Church welcomes its newest pastor as it reflects on its long local legacy

By Skye Lucas
Pastor Brian Lee of Trinity Lutheran Church in Kalispell on Sept. 7, 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Trinity Lutheran Church held its first worship service with just 12 people back in September 1895, when the town of Kalispell was just a few years old. Still nestled in the valley today, the church has since established a Christ-centered school, childcare center and faith-based camp on Flathead Lake.

Coinciding with its quasquicentennial milestone, the congregation also installed its newest pastor, Brian Lee. And while Trinity celebrates and reflects on the ministry’s legacy, it also looks toward its future.

As a fresh face to the parish, Lee is keen to keep the church’s presence alive and strong within the Kalispell community for another 125 years.

“It’s the 125-year anniversary, but I’m already working on 126,” Lee said.

The church has a strong record of community involvement through its various programs. In addition to Trinity’s elementary school, childcare center and faith-based camp, the church offer’s men’s and women’s Bible studies, programs for children and youth, Bible classes for individuals with developmental disabilities and worship services for the hard of hearing.

Expanding the congregation’s services further into the community is one of Lee’s goals.

“One of the futures for the church is to provide help and assistance to citizens, neighbors, whoever, in a different capacity than just worship on the weekday,” Lee said. “The church is a place of worship, but it can also be a site for community partnerships and helping those who need it.”

Lee’s vision of space as embracing and multifunctional stems from wanting to serve the community, but it also derives from his other passion: urban planning.

He grew up in Great Falls and attended service regularly with his family. He took the principle of helping the community to heart, and received his master’s in geography with the intention to serve struggling communities through spatial innovation.

But with a little good “peer pressure” from his pals, who saw a passion and talent in the then 26-year-old, Lee instead pursued theological seminary school and became a pastor.

Living a wholehearted life and creating civic designs that could help marginalized neighborhoods came together in his role of pastor.

“I believe in the power of love and compassion,” Lee said. “Free to serve, free to help.”

While he settles into the community, his first priority is to get to know those he’s serving, which is close to 600 congregants, and visit every Trinity family and staff.

“I’m enjoying meeting every single person; it’s great to hear their story,” Lee said. “There are lots of good folks, salt of the earth.”

The doors of Trinity Lutheran Church are open to those seeking love and compassion, Lee said,and as he makes the church his new home, he is keeping himself grounded with a Bible chapter in mind.  

“I’m thinking a lot about Romans 2:4, which basically says God’s going to draw you back to him not with threats of punishment, but with a love so radical that it captures your imagination,” Lee said.  “That’s what we’re about here at Trinity, and it’s beautiful.”

To learn more about Trinity Lutheran Church, visit www.trinitykalispell.org or visit the parish on 400 W. California St. in Kalispell.

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