New parish has a new name: Milk River Churches


July 20, 2022

Steve Edwards

This section of the old girder bridge on US 2 that spanned the Milk River west of Chinook, is symbolic of how bridges have united and connected people along the Hi-line. The new "Milk River Churches" parish, being organized among five congregations in Havre, Chinook and Harlem, will be a new approach to collaborating ministries as ordained ministers become harder to attract to rural areas. (this section of the old bridge was repurposed when it was moved east of Chinook to span Battle Creek.

Back in November, 2021, Dr. Loren Shellabarger a retired Presbyterian minister and adjunct seminary professor, conferred with interested members from five churches in Havre, Chinook and Harlem. He and his wife, Becky, shared their experiences in helping various rural churches in Iowa organize into a collaborative parish where several diverse congregations share programming, ministers and resources while still maintaining their own traditions and history.

Encouraged by the Shellabargers' experiences in Iowa, in December 2021 a new group of local church representatives met to explore how the...

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