St. Peter’s Story
St. Peter's Cathedral (SPC)was founded in 1867 amidst the ruff and tumble west. It began by meeting wherever they could find space: a local bar, a boarding house, on a hillside. In 1867, the youngest priest to be made a missionary Bishop in the Episcopal Church in America, Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, departed from New York to preside over the vast territory of Montana, Idaho and Utah- 340,000 square miles of wilderness and very few people. He arrived in Virginia City, Montana on July 18, 1867 with The Rev E.N. Goddard as his vicar. On August 6, they traveled to Helena and held the first service on August 11. Bishop Tuttle left the Rev Goddard in Helena for about 3 months as the vicar and first services were held in the courthouse.
By 1869 an official congregation was launched by a group of residents with the assistance of the youngest bishop in the Episcopal Church history, SPC has consistently been a place where the community gathered to respond to events of their day, such as The Great Depression, A World at War, and many natural disasters through conversation, worship, and meeting basic needs. Archbishop Desmond Tutu came to SPC in 1990 to help support Native American and South African Children.
The first St. Peter’s church was located at the corner of Grand Street and Warren Avenue and cost $12,000 in 1879. That church served until the current St. Peter’s Cathedral was built. The cornerstone for the current St. Peter’s Cathedral was laid by Bishop Faber on Sept. 10, 1931. The building was consecrated on Easter Day in 1932 and the cost was $90,000 – approximately $1.5 million today. The parishioners of that day invested their dollars for the long term in the materials they selected for this edifice we reverently worship in today.
While Bishop Daniel Tuttle and along with Father Goddard brought SPC to life, with God's help SPC grew into a force of love and truth in Helena. Throughout the years, St. Peter's became the place for worship by many of the most prominent pioneers of Helena. Their faithfulness brought not only a vibrant worship community but also one of the earliest hospitals in Montana. This hospital, named after SPC, grew into the regional St. Peter's Health System. The current Bishop of Montana is the most recent representative on St. Peter's Health Board as we continue our active presence in Helena's health provision. SPC also founded the Helena Indian Alliance, now known as Urban Indian Health Clinic. This was a critical step in establishing a thriving relationship between various tribes within our part of Montana, as well as between these tribes and the growing population of immigrants from back east. Over the years this grew into the addition of what is known today as Togendawagan, an indigenous Christian worship community at SPC. Togendawagan is led by their elder and served by a retired Dean of the Cathedral. They meet throughout the year with the exception of the summer months at which time they participate in the Pow Wow season throughout Montana.
In our day SPC supports over a dozen local ministries and raises and sends assistance to many organizations around the world.