Click here for COVID-19 updates

An unusual gift goes to Chester UMC during the pandemic

May 07, 2020
Story and photos submitted by Margaret Novak
Chester UMC, Chester, MT


Marcia Muir, the pastor of Chester UMC, 30 miles south of the Canadian border in Montana, was awakened by a 7:30 a.m. phone call April 7. A man with a German accent told her that the Riverview Hutterite Colony wanted to donate a pig to our church so that we could give it to people in need.

After checking with Rudy Cicon, staff-parish relations committee (SPRC) member, Marcia contacted Mike Novak, retired grocer, and Photo of Kathy Armstrong packing the donated pig meat in her kitchenchair of the church’s trustees. Exactly where in the Discipline does it tell a pastor whom to call when it comes to gifts of pigs? Mike agreed to call Riverview Colony to learn more about this rather unusual gift.

A few hours later, Mike was in his pickup, driving 30 miles south of town to haul the butchered pig back to town. After chilling it down overnight in the Novaks’ garage, Mike cut up the pig and his neighbor Kathy Armstrong, active in the Assembly of God congregation, helped him package it for distribution. Kathy and Pat Armstrong, local PA, then drove around the county, giving meat to folks Pat knows are in need.

True story. A 130-pound pig, “dressed.” Part of the thrill of being a pastor in rural Montana. And if you don’t know what a Hutterite is, look it up.

Addendum: Two weeks after this story, Cool Springs Hutterite Colony east of Chester sent a butchered pig home with Pat Armstrong. It hung in the Novak garage; Mike cut it up; Kathy packaged it; and more people got meat. The church is the people – Hutterite, Assembly of God, and United Methodist – working together to bring Good News to the people of North Central Montana.