The Bratislava International Church owes its origins to the re-opening of the Evangelical Lyceum (Lutheran High School).
That school, whose history goes back to 1606, was closed during the communist era and re-opened in September of 1991 as a bilingual Slovak-English institution. The Lutheran Church in Slovakia asked the Lutheran Churches in the United States to provide volunteer English teachers to help with this new start.
Leadership: Schock, Swanson, Sorensen
At first informal worship services were held at the school primarily for the teachers and interested students. In 1994 Pastors Twila Schock and William Swanson and Associate in Ministry Lynnae Sorensen were called to further develop the religion department and to establish a regular worshiping congregation. There was an early desire to expand the concept of the congregation to include not just American teachers, but the larger English-language expatriate community in Bratislava. The Slovak Lutheran congregation in Bratislava offered the use of the historic Malý Kostol (Little Church) as a regular worship space. This Baroque style building was constructed in 1777 and is a truly international setting. Every Sunday morning, in addition to the English language worship, there is a German service, and a Hungarian service. At the same time a Slovak service is taking place at the Veľký Kostol (“Big Church") next door. Slovak, German, and Hungarian reflect the tri-lingual history of the city going back hundreds of years.
Leadership: Hanson, Sorum
Pastors Schock and Swanson served the newly developed English congregation until 1997, at which time they were called to serve the International Protestant Chaplaincy in Moscow. That same year Pastor Paul K. Hanson was called to the position of pastor of the congregation, and served Bratislava International Church until his retirement in 2004. During Pastor Hanson’s tenure Pastor Ann Sorum was called to serve the congregation as Associate Pastor. She served until July of 2006, when she returned to the United States.
Leadership: Schick, Auchenbach
Pastor David Schick served the congregation from October 2004 to July 2009. Pastor Schick also continued the tradition of pastors in this congregation’s past by working simultaneously as a professor of religion at the Evangelical Lýceum. One more change in pastoral leadership took place in September 2006, when Pastor Josh Auchenbach stepped into the position of Associate Pastor of the congregation.
From 2009 to the beginning of 2012, Pastor Arden Haug, originally from Minnesota, served the congregation. Pastor Haug also served, and continues to serve now, as the ELCA's Regional Representative to Europe.
In February 2012, Pastor Miriam Schmidt, originally from New York City, was installed as the congregation's new pastor. Pastor Schmidt came to Slovakia from western Montana, where she served as a congregational pastor in Plains. Here in Bratislava, Pastor Schmidt's additional role is to be the Coordinator of the ELCA's Young Adults in Global Mission Program in Central Europe, whose emphasis is ministry to the Roma communities living in Hungary and Slovakia.
2015 and Forward
Leadership: The Mundts
In October of 2015, Pastors Randy and Gail Mundt, from Colorado, were installed at BIC. They work at the Evangelical Lýceum as pastors in the past have also done. They have a love for international ministry and as recently as 6 years ago they served an international congregation in Vienna. 2015 brings new questions about what it means to live internationally while there is a refugee crisis. We continue to grow and evolve as a congregation and our story is just beginning.