By Abbie Digel Big Sky Weekly editor

Light shines through snow clouds into the Big Sky
Chapel’s large, west-facing window. With birds
etched into its glass, the window frames Lone Peak.
The stained glass, the pews, the organ and piano,
and all the other assets to the building wouldn’t be
maintained if not for continued fundraising for the
chapel’s endowment.
The Legacy Campaign, a five-year fundraising commitment,
began a year ago with a goal of $1 million
raised through planned and deferred gifts. The
campaign appeals to potential givers who are planning
their estates, and encourages them to include
a gift in their wills, or to give from charitable trusts
or foundations. Donors can also set up gifts through
life insurance policies or pledges over a period of
time.
“You have to tread softly on something like this,”
said Richard Landis, chairman of the endowment
trustees. “It is not a comfortable thing… so we have
to make them aware of the need and hope that they
will feel the opportunity fits their priorities.”
In the first year the campaign collected $95,000
in actual gifts, as well as commitments from another
100 donors. They know of about $200,000
in deferred gifts yet to come and it’s valued around
$750,000.
The Big Sky Chapel opened in 1999 as a place of
worship for Christian and Jewish congregations
after almost a decade of planning and fundraising.
The chapel was built through the
efforts of local people who saw a need for
congregational worship. It was fully financed
by donations and has no debt, Landis said.
The chapel houses various religious services,
including Christian Fellowship, Catholic,
and Episcopal/Lutheran, as well as 12-step
programs, the Big Sky Resort holiday dinner,
chorus concerts, children’s recitals and other
community meetings. It has one full-time
employee, Diane Lundsten, and is overseen
by a board of directors.
“There are very few chapels like this where
different congregations [and organizations]
share the space,” Landis said. “It’s a cooperative
venture.”
The endowment was established for the
building’s upkeep. Last year, the roof needed
to be repaired, and Martel construction from
Bozeman “was very good to us,” Landis said.
“They rebuilt it, I’m sure at almost no profit.”
This type of repair is why the chapel must
sustain its endowment. Donations from
congregations, weddings and other usage also
help.
In the long term, the initial $1 million won’t
be enough, Landis says, so they’ve increased
the goal to $2 million.
As the chapel evolves, it will seek other opportunities
to serve the Big Sky community.
“I don’t think that the original group who built this
chapel would have envisioned the extent to which it
has been of service to our community,” Landis said.
bigskychapel.com