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How it all began 

The Story of Music Mission Kiev

In 1992, soon after the fall of the Soviet Union, Roger McMurrin was invited by an Episcopal priest to come to Kiev, Ukraine, to conduct Handel's Messiah. For seventy years of communism, expressions of faith, including performances of sacred masterpieces of music had been suppressed and even forbidden. Roger, who was then Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, decided to take his vacation, his study leave, his wife Diane and his fourteen-year-old son Matthew and go to Kiev for five weeks. He hired 37 professional singers and a local orchestra and performed two concerts, one featuring short classical numbers by composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, and one week later, Handel's Messiah in English. The concerts were like an "explosion of light" for the musicians, the audience, and the media. Returning to America, the McMurrins realized their lives would never be the same. God called them to sell all their possessions and move to Ukraine.

In July of 1993, Ukraine became their home. With the pledged financial support of only eleven people, they began to organize the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Every month support grew as newsletters were faxed back to the States to tell the story. In the first three months, the KSOC performed three classical concerts, three Christmas concerts, and a concert of spirituals and jazz.

In January of 1994, Roger gave his choir Bibles (most of the musicians had never seen one), and they asked, "When are we going to start a church so we can learn to read this Book?" A month later a worship service was held and ninety musicians stood to receive Christ as their Saviour.

In September of 1995, Roger and Diane McMurrin formed a 501c3 charity called "Music Mission Kiev" to support their efforts in music, humanitarian aid, and church work.

The Ministry Grows and Develops

In November of 1995, the church members began delivering food packets to twenty widows without children, "the poorest of the poor." This program caught American interest, and funds were provided to increase the number of widows served. Currently Music Mission Kiev serves 350 widows.

In 1996, the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus made their first tour of the American Eastern States, and then returned with a larger group of 160 Ukrainian musicians in 1998, performing in churches, universities, and famous halls, such as Carnegie Hall in New York. The eleventh tour of the KSOC to north American will take place in fall of 2012.

From 1999-2001, foster orphan care was sponsored by the church in Kiev, as children came out of the orphanage to spend a day and a night with a church member. Unfortunately, this program was ended by the orphanage.

2000 was a special year, in which the KSOC traveled twice to America, one tour to the Western States and the other to the Eastern States.

In 2000, Diane McMurrin began teaching Bible and English at Orphanage #21. These classes lasted for two years, until her students graduated from the orphanage. This group became the center of a ministry to older orphans called "Orphan Rescue" which functioned for about four years.

In 2001, Music Mission Kiev began the Christian Children's Clubs, teaching the Bible in public schools, as well as instruction in dance, art, and music. This program functioned and grew until 2008, when the Ukrainian government adopted a Bible curriculum based on Christian ethics to be taught in the schools.

From 2001-2005, Matthew McMurrin conducted the Kyiv Youth Orchestra and Chorus.

In 2002, the widows program was growing in numbers and in enthusiasm. Evangelism Explosion training began and MMK trained 150 elderly people to share their faith through classes and home visits. Bible classes were popular too, as were prayer groups and these programs are thriving.

In 2003, Music Mission Kiev became a member of the EFCA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability).

In 2004, the widows program, serving 330, gave the elderly opportunities to attend weekly Bible classes, evangelism training, prayer groups, knitting group and widows choir. It also included a visitation ministry to the homebound as those over 60 began to deliver food packets and care for shut-ins, physically and spiritually. A sponsorship program with Americans began which deepened the commitment to the widows who not only received food, but also medical assistance, humanitarian aid, banquets, and tickets to the concerts of the KSOC.

MMK Enters a Time of Change

In 2005 the McMurrins started a second church, St. Paul's, to continue the ministries of Music Mission Kiev; music, widows, orphans, and Christian Children's Clubs. St. Paul's Evangelical Church was registered with Roger as founding pastor. Musicians of the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus participated every week, leading the music of worship. A children's choir and handbell ensemble were formed, and widows and widowers participated in worship through singing, leading prayer and reciting Scripture.

In 2006, the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra and Chorus began taking tours to countries east of Ukraine, into former USSR countries. In April of 2006 they took Handel's Messiah to the area of Russia near the Ural Mountains, a region mostly Moslem, whose cities are more than 1,000,000 people presenting 13 concerts in seven cities in 14 days.

In 2006, Roger began teaching a class called "the History of Christianity" at Wisconsin International University of Ukraine. One of them was the History of Christianity and. He had taught classes at various seminaries as well, including the Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary and the Ukraine International Seminary founded by Dr. Richard Watson.

Dr. Wes Janzen, Canadian professor at Trinity Western University, and conductor, first came to conduct the KSOC in Kiev in 2006. These visits as Principal Guest Conductor became frequent, and his family accompanied him many times, ministering together, as his wife Kim taught Bible to the widows, and the children, Christina, Johnny, and C.J. served in various church ministries. Wes worked closely with musicians and gave concerts and also provided administrative leadership when Roger and Diane were in America. Wes was appointed Interim President in 2012.

In 2007, the KSOC made its first tour to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan presenting Handel's Messiah in the Russian language and a concert of spirituals and jazz. It was during the concert in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, that Roger met Nur, the concertmaster of the Bishkek Philharmonic Orchestra, which would have further significance for years to come.

In 2008 the Christian Children's Club program evolved into the Christian Children's Music Club, where elementary school children could come to St. Paul's Church for free vocal and instrumental music instruction and participate in summer camps, worship services, and special events. This gave us better access to families and deeper relationships with them.

In 2009, Matthew and Tricia McMurrin entered into a period of leadership transition at Music Mission Kiev. Matthew attended the Kiev Conservatory. In August of 2010 Matthew McMurrin became President of Music Mission Kiev and principal conductor of the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Roger, as Conductor Emeritus accompanied him on the American Tour to the Eastern States. In 2011 Mattew and Tricia returned to America to assume new challenges.

In 2009, singers from the KSOC conducted by Roger McMurrin, gave the first Christmas Concert in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with the Bishkek Philharmonic Orchestra. This would result in additional opportunities for Christian music in Bishkek. In December of 2010 and 2011, the second and third annual Christmas Concerts were presented in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with singers from the KSOC and players from the Bishkek Philharmonic Orchestra. Our singers are scheduled to return in 2012 to present Handel's Messiah and other sacred music with this same orchestra in a Moslem land.

In October, 2011, Wes Janzen spoke and Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus presented closing concert at an international missions conference called "The World in God's Hands" in Kiev, put on by CCI and Kingdom Ventures.

Our current ministries include:

1. Music with the Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.

2. Our widows program of 350 pensioners.

3. Interaction with Orphanage #22 and plans for another summer camp.

4. The development of Christian Music Club with children and young people ages 8-16.

5. Worship services of St. Paul's Evangelical Church.

6. Vibrant partnerships with other organizations including Agape Europe, CCI (Kingdom Ventures), Ukrainian Bible Society, Central Baptist Church, Ukrainian Orthodox Seminary.

* KSOC Tours to the United States were taken in 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010.