Making it in Big Sky: Big Sky Resort Ministries

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by Anna Munhin Mar 21, 2023 News
Making it in Big Sky: Big Sky Resort Ministries

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Brad has roots in the community that he believes are an extension of the local church community. When he leaves Big Sky this fall, he will have been a part of the community for 33 years.

In addition to leading outdoor church worship services on Lone Mountain, he is the original founding board member of Big Sky Chapel, worked in the Big Sky Ski Rental Shop for 12 years, and was on the committee for seven years. His work is featured in a book called Servants on the Slopes, written by Skip Schwarz. Jesus grew in Wisdom, Stature, and in favor with God and mankind, that's what the passage from the bible says.

A person's well-roundedness will be determined by how they choose to live their lives based on the four areas of growth. When I pursue a healthy balance in all these aspects of living life to the fullest, I feel God's pleasure.

The series is part of a partnership. The answers have been changed.

Morning Church services at the bottom of Powder Seeker chairlift tan place each Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PHOTO COURTESY OF BRAD LARTIGUE

When did you arrive in Big Sky?

I arrived in Big Sky in the fall of 1990 after completing my masters at a seminary. I tell native Montanans that I am still in Louisiana Territory, even though it was carved out of the Louisiana Purchase. I volunteered with the Boys Scouts of England on the island of Montserrat. In the summer of 1981 I was sent to the Big Island of Hawaii to work in the resort community ofWaikoloa. I thought I was going to be a minister in an island community, but then I got the chance to live and work in New Mexico for three years. In the summer I was hired as a full-time Resort/Outdoor Recreation Minister to supervise and direct college students to minister with employees in the park, and in the winter I was hired as a full-time Minister to supervise and direct college students in Big Sky. After three years, the commitment was for 21 years as a paid staff. I will be 33 years old this fall.

Inform me about the history of Big Sky Resort Ministries. What happened when you became involved?

The first resort minister was Sue Brunke-Hascall, who was established in 1980. They were in the process of creating a year-round minister position that would include a summer outreach. When the Director of Missions for southwest Montana was looking for a more full-time recreation minister, I didn't know that I would be that person. After the position was de-funded, I decided to re-create Big Sky Resort Ministries as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

What kind of services do you provide?

To help support and strengthen our faith community, I prefer to see myself as an extension of God. I conduct worship services at our local ski resort during the winter season with the help of the outdoor church.

There is no question in my mind that Lone Mountain was created to provide this backdrop and grandeur of panoramic views specifically for this unique Outdoor Worship service.

– Brad Lartigue, Resort and Collegiate Chaplain Minister, Big Sky Resort Ministries

Do you have a team that supports you?

Over the years, my local church community at Big Sky Christian fellowship has been an amazing support, as well as our entire spiritual community at Big Sky Chapel. A small team of directors for my nonprofit is mostly funded by a hand full of individuals and seasonal guests. Big Sky Ski Resort executives like Taylor Middleton, Barb Rooney, Mike Unruh, Brian and Mary Wheeler, Brandon Bang, and Glennis Indreland are some of the people I could not do this with. It wouldn't be possible if it weren't for my friend and our first general manager, John Kircher.

How do you reconcile your work as a ski patroller and your work as a minister?

I am no longer an active ski patroller, but sometimes still feel a part of them, as we look out for our own, and many of the people I worked with are still active on patrol. When needed, I was the spiritual advisor. It was when we lost one of our own that I remember the most. It was early in my time here, but we all pulled together to get through that huge loss and grief as a staff and to also celebrate her life with a memorable celebration of life service that brought our staff and her family together.

Do you believe that worshiping in a setting like Lone Mountain gives people an experience that is different from a traditional church?

Lone Mountain was created to give a backdrop and grandeur of panoramic views for this unique outdoor worship service.

Is there anything else you want the Big Sky community to know?

If you love God, you will love people with him. When we die, "Eternity Starts Now" among each person we meet and want to spend time with in eternity.

When we saw our dream of building Big Sky Chapel as a banner of heaven under one roof, I needed to applaud what we did. When the BASE was created, I would like to applaud what we have created. I'm ready to be a catalyst and active community member to help make the dream of building an indoor aquatics center a reality. My life story of surviving a near-drowning in the Caribbean Ocean and becoming an endurance triathlon can be found in Servants on the Slopes. I am passionate about swimming because of this.

There are two places where outdoor worship can be found on the slopes: below the Powder Seeker chairlift and at the top Six Shooter chairlift. The Easter Sunrise Service is on April 9 on the mountain. Skis, snowboards, and foot traffic are welcome.