A Vision for Moscow
The sales assistant stared at Anna Kulakova with wide eyes and an open mouth.
“It can`t be!” he exclaimed. “You must have made a mistake. You can`t fit that many people into such a small room!”
The Russian summer was hot and sticky. The ventilation system provided little relief to the worshippers crammed into the Moscow International Seventh-day Adventist Church.
So Anna headed for the store, determined to find an air conditioner capable of pumping cool air into the stuffy hall.
Before the sale assistant could determine which model of air conditioner would properly cool the hall, he needed to inquire about the hall`s size and the number of people occupying it.
“The area is 850 square feet,” Anna said. “How many people?” he asked.
It was then that his mouth fell open. “What?” he said.
“130 people,” Anna said. “Are you sure?” “Yes, I`m sure.”
“No really!” he said, shaking his head. “It`s simply impossible for so many people to fit in that space.”
The Moscow International Seventh-day Adventist Church is full of surprises. Here are a few more:
- We are the fastest growing of the 27 Adventist congregations in Moscow and its suburbs, with attendance increasing by 12 percent in 2010, 21 percent in 2009, and 15 percent in 2008.
- We are the only Adventist church in Moscow with more attendees than members. Membership now is 170 people, and the average Sabbath attendance tops 270.
- We have the most youthful congregation of any Adventist church in Moscow. Sixty-nine percent of attendees are under 35, while 91 percent are under 45.
- We are the only Adventist church in Moscow with regular worship services conducted in English and Russian. In fact, the church is called “international: because it was opened in the early 1990s to provide English-speaking foreigners with a place to worship.
- We have more nationalities than any other Adventist church in Moscow, with people from more than 30 countries, all eagerly waiting to swap their passports for citizenship on the New Earth.
While we rejoice over the surprises, we also face a key challenge: finding room for everyone to worship. We meet in a corner of the ground floor of a church building that we share with two other Adventist congregations, both Russian-speaking, which meet in a larger sanctuary on the second floor. When our Sabbath attendance surpassed the capacity of our corner hall, we expanded by knocking a hole in the back wall and building a second hall in the greeting area. The small hall soon filled up as well, and we split the worship service into two, with a first and second sermon, to accommodate all the worshippers.
Seeing that our space would run out again, we started a new church building fund in the summer of 2010. Our members and friends have given generously, and we have raised more than $115,000. But it`s not enough. Here`s why:
- While attendance is high and growing, our offerings are small because many attendees are unemployed students, migrant workers, out-of-town visitors and non-believers.
- We provide a regular Sabbath potluck-style lunch for up to 70 students.
- Property is expensive in Moscow, which is rated by realtors as one of the most costly capitals in the world. We need to raise $16 million to build suitable premises for the new church.
This is why we would like to invite you to join us in creating a few more surprises in Moscow. We have pledged to raise $1 million to $1.5 million together with the Moscow Conference to fund the new church. After much prayer, we have drawn up this blueprint:
- Phase 1 ($16 million): A plot of land and a sanctuary with a seating capacity for 1,000 people and administrative offices for the pastor, elders, deacons and other church ministry leaders. The building will also have rooms for the children, youth and adult Sabbath school classes in the Russian, English and Moldovan languages.
- Phase 2 ($3.2 million): The first Adventist church school in Moscow, with classrooms for the first K-12 Adventist school in Russia.
- Phase 3 ($1.5 million): A community center offering outreach programs like the Mittleider Method, healthy cooking, and how to stop smoking. It will also have a modest TV studio, which will be the first Adventist TV studio in Moscow.
- Phase 4 ($1.5 million): A multilevel parking garage for 100 cars.
Understanding the heavy responsibility connected to a project involving such a great amount of money, we are coordinating this undertaking within the frame- work and policies of the local conference, union, division and General Conference. The General Conference has opened a dedicated account where tax-deductible contributions can be made by check in the name of our fund, Moscow Vision. The mailing address is:
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Attn: Denise Greenough
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
If you wish to participate, please make checks payable to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Remember to include on the check memo line “Moscow Vision-Money Fund,” or the money will go to some other worthy church project, and we won`t be able to claim it.
For more information about the project:
- Visit Moscow Vision`s website at moscowvision.org.
- Write to David Kulakov, a leading sponsor, or Andrew McChesney, chairman of the church`s development committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you, and we would like to invite you to come to Russia to see firsthand what we are doing. We seek friends and partners who want to get actively involved in establishing this church, which, significantly, will be only the third church building owned by the Adventist Church in Moscow. We welcome a hands-on approach and want you to join our working group, where we can be blessed with your wisdom and guidance. We will gratefully accept any corrections to our plans that you might offer, and we will provide you with updates as often as you wish.
Visit us now and see for yourself that our congregation is on fire for the Lord, eagerly anticipating His Second Coming and doing our best to hasten it. We guarantee that you, too, will get excited, and want to worship with us every Sabbath!