Welcome to International Christian Fellowship!
By Susan Hetherlington
With a “Welcome” like the above, I could tell I was in for a treat when I visited the newly named ICF which meets every Sunday at 11:15 in a theater used for drama students attending a nearby theater school. Ignoring the “gentlemen’s club” directly across the street, I followed some lively children inside where the theater atmosphere prevailed, including a garderobe manned by an attendant – on a Moscow Sunday morning, I found that great! I was shown the way upstairs to the theater by one of the Elders of the church who proffered me a program.
The ICF is under the umbrella of the International Baptist Fellowship here in Russia, but the ICF has taken a unique turn down its own path. With too little space to describe their Mission Statement and their Statement of Faith in this column, I would say the most unique thing about the ICF is that they are ministering to the expatriat community by encouraging a unique fellowship of faith while in Moscow. In other words, the ICF encourages its members to retain their membership in their home churches, but to join a church home in Moscow – the ICF. This is a very generous outlook that allows many people from all over the world who are in Moscow to join together in a largely self-governed community of faith. “A believer should be a member of a church in the location where he/she is living currently. For many of us at this time, that location is Moscow.”
The service I attended was led by various members of the group of Elders and Deacons who lead the group. Musical ministry with guitars, piano, flutes and singing led the group in Russian and English. Simultaneous Russian translation is available to the Russian membership, and there is a Russian language Sunday School for adults along with English language bible and Sunday schools for children and adults. There are many other groups to join, including a special ‘Link” group that can orient a newcomer to all that ICF has to offer on Sunday and on other days when the special study groups meet. The church especially emphasizes the importance of “small groups which make the church more intimate…A small group affords opportunities to grow and minister together.” Specific charities that the ICF supports include a Baby House. The diversity of the congregation was apparent and I met worshipers from Europe, S. and N. America and Africa.
And finally, I saw another unique aspect of the ICF in action while listening to the sermon delivered by one of the Elders. The Elders who preach each Sunday represent the ICF ideal of hearing God’s Word presented from different perspectives and personalities. A variety of insight is revealed through a group of Elders who regularly think, study, pray and discuss together the scriptures that are presented to the congregation as a continuity of shared beliefs but from the different perspectives of the Elders. An interesting approach to church governance and spiritual self-leadership. Unique in Moscow and certainly inviting!
Contact ICF at: www.ibfmoscow.org,
office phone: 507-0635
Services at: Shukina Acting Institute,
12A Bolshoy Nikolopeskovsky Pereulok between Stary and Novy Arbat.