In 1553 Czar Ivan the Terrible allowed "non-orthodox" services to be celebrated in Moscow for the English traders employed by the Russia Company. In 1882 construction started on St Andrew's, which is the only example of English Victorian church architecture in Moscow.
The church buildings were confiscated by the communist authorities in 1920, and St Andrew's was used variously as hostel accommodation, government offices and a recording studio. On 14 July 1991 Sunday worship was re-instated and after 70 years of neglect under the Soviet regime, St Andrew's was returned to Anglican hands in October 1994 during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II.
In the last eight years the congregation has grown from two dozen to nearly 200, representing 14 nationalities and nearly as many Christian denominations. St Andrew's has a thriving youth ministry and also ministers to African refugees in Moscow through a drop in centre. The fine acoustics of the church make it an ideal venue for classical and sacred music concerts.
The task of restoring St Andrew's to its 19th century splendour could cost as much as $3million and so an international appeal has been launched. In immediate need of work are crumbling buttress stonework (estimated $750,000), water seepage into basement and foundations ($500,000) and plumbing and sewers ($200,000).
Only when these structural repairs have been finished can attention be turned to refurbishing the interior. Planned work includes restoring the sanctuary area which has been subdivided for music recording, removing the wooden floor that covers the original marble, and new stained glass windows.
St Andrew's is a spiritual home-away-from home for many expatriates. Money raised from the international appeal will help preserve the historic architecture of this unique church while fostering the spread of the Christian message in Russia and supporting ministry to families and refugees far from home.