St. Andrew's Church in Moscow is a community of Christians who seek to
History of St Andrew's
These articles on the history of St Andrew's are taken from a series of articles published in the St Andrew's parish magazine in the first half of 1999. They were written by Jean Coussmaker, wife of Canon Chad Coussmaker OBE, the first full-time chaplain of St Andrew's since the October Revolution.
The story of the English Church in Moscow, Part 1. People often ask about the history of St. Andrew's. Jean Coussmaker tells us some more of the background to the chaplaincy.
As we draw nearer to regaining full possession of our church, a new chapter in its history, this seems to be a good time to look back at the early history.
One frequently asked question is, "How do we know about the history of the church?" There are two main sources: Firstly, there are the service registers which clergy in the Church of England are compelled to keep. (Perhaps you have noticed Chad and Jonathan carefully filling in a big blue book after every service?) As the churches in Russia came under the Diocese of London, completed registers were kept in their archives where they can be found today. Secondly, from the eighteenth century, the English churches in Russia were supported by the Russia Company, a trading company based in London, whose membership changed from a group of merchant adventurers in the sixteenth century to stable business communities by the eighteenth century, when the company began to concern itself for the spiritual needs of their members living abroad.
It was the Russia Company's financial support which enabled permanent chaplaincies to be maintained, and they shared with the Bishop of London the responsibility of appointing and paying clergy, building and maintaining churches and parsonages. Today we still have the support of the Russia Company which contributes generously towards the financial needs of the chaplaincy. The chaplain writes regular reports on the progress of the chaplaincy for the Company, and addresses their annual meeting in London. The Russia Company records are kept in the Guildhall Library in London, and give a fascinating insight into chaplaincy and community life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; so many of the problems and needs are echoed today.
The history of the English Church in Russia can be traced back to the sixteenth century, during the reigns of Elizabeth I of England and Ivan IV ("The Terrible") of Russia; it was he who gave permission for foreign communities trading with Russia to have their own forms of worship, to build and own church buildings and appoint their own ministers.
There are many gaps in information about the early period, but probably the first English church in Russia was built in Archangel in the seventeenth century. This was the major port for Anglo-Russian trade, and records tell us that the chapel had its own communion plate and hymn books, and the chaplain travelled to Moscow to take services for the community there from about 1705; Archangel and Moscow formed a joint chaplaincy.