About 15 members of a small religious sect have settled in Deer Lodge to await the apocalypse, which they expect to occur this April.

"We are looking for April of 1991 (for the apocalypse) to occur," Neal Chase, the chief spokesman in Deer Lodge for the group, told the Missoulian in a recent interview.He said Deer Lodge will become the New Jerusalem, or a paradise on Earth, after thermonuclear war destroys the world's population centers.

Chase, a 25-year-old writer, said the current war in the Middle East is a prelude to Armageddon - the last, decisive battle between the forces of good and evil to be fought before Judgment Day.

While waiting, Chase and other members of the Baha'i Under the Provision of the Covenant - a sect not associated with the established Baha'i faith - are bustling all over Deer Lodge, trying to get local residents to prepare for the coming end.

So far, the effect of their proselytizing has had "mixed results," Chase acknowledged.