In 1950, the Lutheran Welfare Association began as a vision of all Lutheran Churches in Montana, infusing its work with a commitment to offer social ministry to people in need.
The first Executive Director was Pastor Rolf Normann, with an office located in Helena. He had been a pastor in Wolf Point and was called to get a degree in social work in New York, and then he returned to start up this agency.
In 1953, the Lutheran Welfare Association was licensed as an adoption agency, initially working with Florence Crittenten Home, Montana Children’s Hospital and LSS of Washington. The Washington adoptions were most interesting—Rev. Normann would take the train from Helena to Spokane, where there were lots of babies waiting to be adopted and he would bring them back in the sleeper car nestled in boxes.
In 1963, LWA changed its name to Lutheran Social Services of Montana
In 2001, LSS came under the auspices of St. John’s Lutheran Ministries
In 2007, LSS moved operations to St. John’s campus.
Over the years, LSS programs and services have included chaplaincy at the State prison in Deer Lodge and hospitals in Great Falls and Billings. Current services include refugee resettlement, mental health counseling services, disaster services and birthparent counseling and adoption services.
Currently we have offices in Kalispell, Missoula, Great Falls, Bozeman and Billings. Our administrative headquarters are in Billings.
LSS has had 11 Executive Directors to date. Five have been Lutheran pastors and 6 have not. Although we are called Lutheran Social Services, the majority of our adoptive parents, birthparents and staff are not Lutheran.