Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Michael Zdorow

Serving At: Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy in Russia

Location: Russia, Europe and Eurasia

Home Country: United States of America, North America

Zdorow_MikeThe Rev. Michael Zdorow is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church, serving as pastor of the Moscow Protestant Chaplaincy in Russia. He assumed the position in January 2016.

The more than 50-year-old Moscow chaplaincy is an international, ecumenical, and English-speaking ministry that includes worship, social services, and a medical program. Its community of expatriates, students, and refugees is composed at any given time of some 300 persons from 30 countries. The chaplaincy was organized in 1962 by the National Council of Churches in the USA and is sponsored by five denominations: The United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church USA, American Baptist Churches, and the Reformed Church in America.

Michael is a provisional elder in the Florida Annual Conference, having served from mid-2012 to the end of 2015 as pastor of Christ Church, United Methodist, in Fort Lauderdale. He was assistant pastor of Bethany United Methodist Church, Smyrna, Georgia, while attending Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta, from which he received a Master of Divinity degree in 2012. Still earlier, he was assistant pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in North Port, Florida. His Bachelor of Arts degree in history and Russian studies is from the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Michael was born in Florida into a mixed Roman Catholic-Ukrainian Orthodox family that experienced oppression and refugee status during World War II. His father was born in a displaced persons hospital outside Munich, Germany after his grandmother was liberated from a Nazi labor camp. Classified as political refugees, the family moved first to Venezuela before immigrating to the United States in 1959.

Experiencing an evangelical conversation in high school, Michael engaged in short-term mission journeys in Guatemala and Russia. “I felt a distinct connection with God’s love for the Russian people,” he says, “and my experiences were a catalyst in the formation of my call to ordained ministry and mission service.”

In 2002, Michael went to Russia as an independent missionary, and while there began the process of entering the United Methodist ministry under the direction of the United Methodist bishop in Moscow. He studied at the Baltic Methodist Theological Seminary in Tallinn, Estonia. When he came home, he transferred his church membership and elder candidacy to the Florida Annual Conference.

Michael says his understanding of God and mission is strongly influenced by the emphasis on both the physical and spiritual in the Gospel of Luke. “God’s love for the poor, tax collectors, outcasts, sinners, women [who had no rights in those days], Samaritans, and Gentiles is emphasized [in Luke]. I feel strongly that I share in this same mission of Jesus.”

He sees suffering in the world as personal because of the experience of his family, and says, “I am most passionate about relieving forms of suffering caused by the oppression and marginalization of individuals and groups.”

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