Fellowship and fun, despite frigid weather
The 425 or so participants come for the sermons, snowmobiles and time spent with church members from a dozen different states. For one weekend, the 20-member local congregation — 14 of whom hail from one family — are literally part of a much, much larger church, organizers say.
“It is a chance to see good friends … and to hear speakers from outside the small areas where we live,” said Dorean (Bruce) Blackketter of Billings, Mont. “This means so much to us.”
Families come with young children, who often spend free time in the afternoon sliding down a spiral tube into an indoor swimming pool at their hotel. Retired couples play dominoes by a crackling fire. Everyone eats plenty of pancakes at the nearby Trappers Restaurant before they open their Bibles to Galatians and participate in special sessions.
“It is a good meeting of family time, spiritual time and the opportunity to see everybody,” said Tishy Stahly of Belgrade, Mont., who attended with her husband, Dan, and children Briley and Denali. The Stahlys first came to the event in college before they were married.
“Our kids have all made connections with other kids from across the state through this event,” she said.
In an area where the population is estimated at 75 percent Mormon, Glenn Loomis said the conference makes a difference for those trying to live out the Bible in a sometimes lonely place.
“People like fellowship and God’s creation,” Loomis said. “We put those two together and here we are.”