Preaching Without Words
New church soup kitchen opens in Moscow
M o s c o w -- Once the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy (MPC) ran four soup kitchens for the needy in Moscow. Then there was one. Since the festive opening of a new kitchen on 10 September, there are again two. MPC-Pastor Robert Bronkema explains: "Our soup kitchen ministry began in 1991, but later our focus shifted to helping minorities in Moscow. So many of our resources were moved to help people of color. We believe we are now in a position to concentrate on both."
The original soup kitchen, located in a remote location on Mosfilmofskaya Ulitsa, is still feeding 200 persons every weekday. This new kitchen – which also served the MPC once before - has been chosen because of its central location very near the Kuznetskii Most metro station. The new, reopened kitchen intends to serve only women with children. Ninety mothers and children are already registered for these meals, yet the present amount of funds and volunteers only suffices for 50.
Not all wishes have been fulfilled. MPC-staff person Viktoria Spieth believes that food bags would be a significant help. She states: “It`s a big chore for mothers with children to come here every day in order to eat.”
Primary financial sponsors for this new effort are Moscow`s "International Women`s Club", the German embassy and MPC. Occasional sponsors have included the Canadian embassy and the Anglo-American school.
Church-wise, this social project is truly an inter-confessional one. Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant representatives were present at the opening. The city administration and Orthodox social services are supplying the names of needy mothers. There is consequently little room to suggest additional names for the list of the needy. “But the sky is the limit,” Pastor Bronkema, a Presbyterian, hastens to add. “We will do as much as our resources (money and volunteers) allow.”
Bronkema stresses that the MPC, which was initially created in 1962 to serve the English-speaking diplomatic and business community, is very open to cooperation with Russian Baptist congregations. Pastor Ruvim Voloshin, responsible for Baptist social ministries at Baptist headquarters in Moscow, has expressed interest in supporting joint social programmes. The MPC is supported by a coalition of Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist and Baptist denominations in the USA. The Valley Forge-based “American Baptist Churches” have long been involved. A recent interim pastor was Charles Mercer and his wife, Marie, from this church.
Why be involved in social ministries? The US-American Bronkema responds: „This is a most natural result of our faith. We do this out of love – not out of fear. We can do no other. St. Francis of Assisi once stated: ‘I use every opportunity I have to preach the Gospel. Sometimes I also use words.’”
MPC holds its English-language worship service Sundays at 15.00 hrs at St. Andrews Anglican Church, Vosniesenski pereulok 8. The community also has a website: “www.moscowprotestantchaplaincy.org”.
Robert Bronkema can be contacted at: “BBronkema@cs.com”.
Dr. William Yoder
Department for External Church Relations, RUECB
Moscow, 14 September 2007
A press release of the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists. May be published freely. Release #07-34, 445 words.