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Mission Connections
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Matthew Laferty

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Matthew Laferty

Mission co-worker in Russia
Serving with the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy
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About Matthew Laferty’s ministry
Matthew Laferty is a mission co-worker in the Russian Federation, where he serves as the chaplain of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy (MPC), an international faith community composed primarily of students and refugees from the developing world. Matthew’s service is supported jointly by the PC(USA), The United Methodist Church (UMC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the Reformed Church in America and the American Baptist Churches USA.

Read about Matthew in the Passport Moscow article Deep Sense of Calling

The Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy is an international, interdenominational Christian ministry serving the English-speaking community of Moscow. The Chaplaincy was established in 1962 by the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA to provide Protestant ministry to the U.S. Embassy community. Today the Chaplaincy is a dynamic and diverse ecumenical Christian community that nurtures faith in Jesus Christ, confronts injustice, and welcomes all people. MPC is a shared ministry of five US denominations, but its membership draws from nearly 30 nations and as many Christian traditions. As the MPC chaplain Matthew provides spiritual leadership to the congregation, preaches weekly, provides pastoral care, teaches, dreams and engages in vision-casting, and administers the sacraments. He also oversees MPC’s 12 social ministries programs, which focus on poverty, hunger, and displacement.

Country context
Russia, the world’s largest nation in area, extends through both Eastern Europe and northern Asia. Its long and difficult history has played a major role in its social and economic development. When Russia formally adopted communism in 1917, atheism became the official doctrine of the Communist Party, and therefore of the Soviet Union. Seventy years of communism and official atheism took a heavy toll on the religious life in Russia. Organized religion was suppressed, and priests, rabbis and other faith leaders were often imprisoned or executed. When the communist regime fell in 1991 the door was opened for an expanded Christian presence in Russia.

About Matthew Laferty
Prior to his current service in Moscow, Matthew was particularly active in The United Methodist Church. Matthew has served on mission and outreach committees since his teens and has served as a delegate to the UMC General Conference on more than one occasion. As a delegate to the 2008 General Conference, Matthew was elected to chair the Legislative Committee on Conferences and Structure and lead a committee of 90 delegates from over 20 nations to make recommendations on nearly 200 changes to the Church's Book of Discipline.

While deeply rooted in the United Methodist tradition, Matthew has a strong commitment to ecumenism. He intentionally chose Yale Divinity School for graduate studies because of its ecumenical makeup—an environment in which he could be formed within the broader Christian tradition. Matthew was a special projects assistant for the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns of The United Methodist Church, the church's ecumenical commission. His projects focused on reconciliation with indigenous people and strengthening the church’s ecumenical and interreligious ministries through strategic reorganization. Matthew has broadened his worship experiences by regularly worshipping at a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregation and at Orthodox Christian congregations. From 2010 to 2011 he was a pastoral associate at Tabor Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Branford, Connecticut.

Matthew has a personal passion for history and enjoys independently researching United Methodist history. His current project focuses on the circumstances that led to the creation of the autonomous Methodist churches in Korea, Mexico, and Brazil in 1930. He serves on the board of directors for the United Methodist historical and archival commission, the General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH). He is also the chairperson for GCAH's Committee to Eliminate Institutional Discrimination; the Committee seeks to identify discrimination within the agency and provide plans to address institutionalized discrimination. He worked three years as a research assistant at the Archives of Ohio United Methodism, through which he conducted a grant-funded, three-month historical preservation project with African-American churches in Ohio United Methodism.

Part of Matthew's calling is to help Christians confront systemic injustice within their communities. As an undergraduate student Matthew spent a summer working with a United Methodist community development organization in Columbus, Ohio, which proved to be a formative experience for him as he contributed to affordable housing, microenterprise, and homelessness programs. Trained in broad-based community organizing, Matthew taught the principles of community organizing to students at Yale.

Matthew holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut, and is an ordained minister of The United Methodist Church. He was awarded the William E. Downes Prize for his worship leadership by Yale University in 2011. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio. He was raised in Crestline, Ohio, a small community in north-central Ohio.

Matthew enjoys experiencing new cultures and places and has traveled throughout North America, Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia.

Birthday: February 2

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