St. Andrew's Church in Moscow is a community of Christians who seek to
History of St Andrew's
The Rebirth of St. Andrew's.
In 1991 the Rev. Tyler Strand managed to persuade Melodiya to allow the use of the church for Sunday services when he came from Helsinki. Services were held approximately fortnightly; Dr. Hugh Carpenter, Doctor to the British Embassy and a Lay Reader, took Morning Prayer when a priest was not available. Chad and I came to visit St. Andrew's in October 1992; there is a picture of me standing outside the parsonage, which was used as offices by Melodiya. Visitors were not encouraged, but Dr. Carpenter seized us by the arms and hustled us up the stairs on a whistle-stop tour, before anyone realized what was happening! By the time we were outside again, and doing a tour round the back of the church, word had got round, and employees were crowding round the windows to catch a glimpse of these extraordinary foreigners! Access to the church was often quite hard as the porch and foyer were stacked full of old Melodiya records; there was no room for coffee then! There was nowhere for meetings either, and the church committee, which was a small, volunteer body, met in a room in the British Embassy; elected officers and a constitution were still a long way off.
Chad was appointed in 1993, and that marked the start of weekly services, much to the relief of members of the congregation, who could never remember whether it was a church Sunday or not. The committee rented a three-room apartment for us in Park Kultury, originally as a temporary measure until the parsonage was handed back - we never imagined then that it would take four and a half years!
October 19th 1994 was a very special day when Queen Elizabeth visited St. Andrew's as part of her visit to Russia. President Yeltsin told her that the church was being returned, but so far we have only managed to regain full possession of the parsonage. When Chad recently received an OBE from the Queen, her first question was: "And have you got the church back yet?"
Newcomers may have wondered why we have a small crucifix on the right hand side of the church. The primitive figure was discovered on a pile of rubbish by the church door; Jennifer had it put on a simple cross, and it became a symbol of hope for our church, for the people and the building. Samuel carried it outside at the head of our first Palm Sunday procession, watched by curious Russians who were passing by. One person present, who had been a student in Moscow during the repressions of the 80's, wept with joy as we sang in the open. Later Samuel carried the crucifix across to the Parsonage, where Chad and Jonathan gave thanks for the return of the building, and blessed it.
And so, after 6 years in Moscow, Chad is retiring, and we are leaving here; another page is being turned in the history of St. Andrew's. This has only been a brief overview of the story of the Moscow chaplaincy; there is still a lot more to discover, and I hope that someone will take over the exciting task of research.
Despite the ever-changing nature of the congregation, we do have one living link with the past in the person of Mr. James Colley, whose family played an important part in the running of St. Andrew's in the last century. He is a keen historian and often brings us new information about the church. We can take heart that our predecessors suffered as we do: from changes in the exchange rate, from sudden decreases in the numbers of church members, from political upheaval. Despite all this, St. Andrew's still stands as a sign of our faith, a church for the worship of God, and as the opportunities open out for further development, a centre for activities which will benefit the wider community.
Note: Since these articles were written in 1999, Mr James Colley has died, after spending over a decade as a committed member of the congregation since the church's re-opening in 1991.