When the Austrian State Treaty was signed in 1955, the Allied powers which had remained in Austria from the end of World War II withdrew their troops and other staff, including their chaplains. English-speaking Protestants in Vienna who had been attending Army chapel services sought to continue their worship together. At that time the Rev. Dr. Joseph Bartak, Minister of the Third Methodist Church in Vienna, offered to preach a sermon in English every Sunday in his church in addition to services in German and Czech. In 1956, Dr. Bartak, knowing that he would be retiring at the end of 1957, corresponded with the Methodist Church in America and with the National Council of Churches in the USA requesting a minister to take over his congregations. In July 1957, Dr. Otto F. Meinardus, Pastor of the Maadi Community Church in Cairo, was sent to Vienna by the National Council of Protestant Community Churches.
With the help of Dr. Meinardus and Dr. Bartak, and with the assistance of leaders of Protestant churches in Austria, the founding meeting of the Vienna Community Church was held on 29 July 1957. Its ﬁrst worship service was on 8 September. On 11 February 1958, a special congregational meeting voted unanimously to extend a call to Rev. Alexander J. McKelway to become its ﬁrst permanent minister of the VCC. While the VCC associates with various denominations and people from numerous countries (including the U.S.), the VCC has a unique gospel mission to attract Christians incorporating various cultures and worship styles. It is an independent nondenominational church. Worshiping at the Reformierte Stadtkirche(Austrian State Reformed Church) at Dorotheergasse 16 not far from the Jewish Museum, it is the only First District English language congregation.
Today, VCC members come from about 35 countries around the world. The congregation is made up of students, musicians, medical personnel, teachers, spouses of Austrians, employees of private/international businesses, the various UN organizations or embassies, as well as Civil Servants and retirees. They are attracted to VCC’s gospel message, intercultural atmosphere and tradition of musical excellence.
The Vienna Community Church began its formal relationship with the American Foreign Christian Union in 2003 to bolster its relationship with VCC alumni in the United States. The VCC utilizes AFCU resources to organize events, plan future building programs, bolster VCC’s endowment, reimagine its mission, and support projects and daily operations.
If you are in Vienna, you are very welcome to stop by the Reformierte Stadtkirche on Dorotheergasse (just off of the Graban) at 12:00 Noon and worship with us. Our services include Gospel preaching, Sunday School, and Choir with Bible Study at 10:30. Looking forward to seeing you!
Pastor Dr. Gábor Lassu