St. Nicholas of South Canaan Church

Billings, Montana

St. Nicholas of South Canaan Church

Founded 1994

Diocese: Diocese of the West

Deanery: Rocky Mountain Deanery


401 Lewis Ave
Billings, Montana 59101


Office: 406-254-1194

Parish Contacts

Home: 406-254-1194


General Location
St Nicholas of South Canaan Church is at 401 Lewis Ave, on the corner of Lewis Ave and 4th St West.

Heading West on I-90
Exit 450.  Head towards “City Center” on 27th St.  Turn left at 1st Ave north.  At the end of the street, at Central Catholic High School, turn right onto Division (the turn is before the end of the street, yield to the right).  At the light turn left onto Lewis Ave.  Go to corner of 4th St W, a yellow church with an Orthodox Cross.  Parking is on the street.

Heading east on I-90
Exit 446, “West Billings, Business Loop I-90”. Where the off-ramp splits, bear left toward “City Center, Business Loop I-90”. Remain on Business Loop I-90 over the over-pass. Immediately at the bottom of the descent side of the over-pass make a left on 5th Street W. Continue north on 5th St through the intersection at Broadwater Avenue to the stop sign at the intersection of Lewis Avenue and 5th Street W. Turn right (east) on Lewis Ave. Go 1 block to the corner of 4th St W, a yellow church with an Orthodox Cross. Parking is on the street.

Schedule of Services

All Services are in English.

5:30 PM Great Vespers followed by Confessions.
Saturday Evening

10:00 AM Divine Liturgy. Fellowship follows the Divine Liturgy.
Sunday Morning

6:30 PM Book Study.
Thursday Evening

Services for feast days as announced
Eves of Great Feasts falling on work days

Confessions are heard following Vespers and by appointment.

Parish Background

St Nicholas of South Canaan Orthodox Church was one of the first to receive the three year mission planting grant from the National Church. Though Orthodoxy has a long history in Montana, including a parish consecrated by St Tikhon and served by Archimandrite Sebastian Dabovich in Butte, it has been inconsistent until the reception of the grant. The mission completed the grant in September 1997. The parish purchased a beautiful church building on 4th St. West and Lewis Ave. in Billings. The iconostas is the restored antique from Holy Virgin Mary Cathedral in Los Angeles.

The Orthodox presence in Billings has existed since its founding as many ethnic groups followed the railroad and mining operations into Montana. As such, many Greek, Serbian, and Russian families settled into the area. The Serbian Diocese founded St Elijah Serbian Orthodox Church in Billings a number of years ago under the pastorship of His Grace, Bishop NIKOLAI (Soraich) (now closed). Following some internal problems, a new parish was formed in 1988, St Nicholas of Myra under the Greek Archdiocese, who administered the area on a monthly basis for seven years. However, because of the dynamic and multi-ethnic fabric of Orthodoxy in the area, as well as a recent influx of converts, the parishioners decided in 1994 to enter the OCA and form St Nicholas of South Canaan Mission. This was the first Church in the world put under the patronage of St. Nicholas Velimirovich, a Serbian Bishop who suffered in Dachau prison camp and later came to America. He was a prolific writer (he wrote the famous Prologue from Ochrid) and became a leading proponent of Orthodox unity in America.

The mission grew rapidly and has become the center for Orthodoxy in eastern Montana and northern Wyoming. It currently draws people from far and wide from across the vast expanse of the Montana and northern Wyoming countryside. Some parishioners drive up to three hours each weekend to services. It currently has around 70 families with over 40 children from many backgrounds. An increasing number of converts from other backgrounds are also shaping the fabric of the community as Orthodoxy begins to grow in Montana. An aggressive mission program has been implemented with the hope that the St Nicholas parish will start new missions in the region. St. Anthony Mission has been planted in Bozeman, Montana, a fast-growing college town three hours west of Billings, under the pastoral care of Fr. David Morrison. Also under Fr. David’s pastoral care is a new mission in Helena, MT, the capitol of the state.

Billings itself is one of the fastest growing cities in the region, having grown over 40% in recent years. It has become the largest city in Montana and a center for farming, ranching, commercial, and medical activities. Known as the “Magic City”, Billings began as a railroad hub for the area. It epitomizes the old Wild West with rugged individualism and gracious hospitality. It is quickly becoming a tourist attraction because of its scenic setting (only 2 hours away from Yellowstone Park, the Beartooth and Pryor Mountains), great outdoor activities (the best trout fishing in the world is only thirty minutes away), and historical significance (with Little Bighorn and Native American Reservations). Billings is also home of the Montana fair and various other local fairs and events.

We invite and welcome you to visit and perhaps become a part of our exciting and growing Church community.

Parish Focus
The patron saint of our parish is St. Nicholas of South Canaan, Bishop of Zica, a man of whom it was said that he, in his earthly life,  “had seen the face of God”. In our patronal icon, St. Nicholas holds in his hand a scroll which reads, “No man can know the true God except through the risen Lord Jesus. Neither can any man know true man except through Him alone.” This statement summarizes the focus of our parish—to “know” what it means to be “true man” in the light of our Creator’s love, and to enter into communion with Him through the liturgical, ascetical, and interior life of our Orthodox Faith.