The first discussions concerning the need for an international Baptist church in the Taunus area north-west of Frankfurt took place during the 1987 meeting of the Long-range Planning Committee of the European Baptist Convention (EBC)*. A further planning meeting was held on April 18, 1989 in Friedrichsdorf. It was attended by Dr. Terry Carter, Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church, Wiesbaden (IBC), Pastor Harry Wood of Bethel Baptist Church , Frankfurt (BBC), Dr. John Merritt (EBC) and others.
The work was initially supported by two EBC missionaries based at the EBC office in Wiesbaden . Dr. Carter approached Martin Levey (IBC) in November 1989 to see if he would be willing to serve as mission Pastor after completing his term of pastoral service for IBC and EBC in Bad Kreuznach.
In December 1989 Martin and Siggi Levey were formally appointed by IBC to lead the Bad Homburg Mission, commencing in January 1990.
They commenced their work on Sunday, January 21, 1990 by holding an evening Bible Study/worship service, which was attended by nine people. The mission continued to meet on Sunday evenings only, which restriction clearly limited attendance since families with young children were unlikely to attend. In April 1990 new discussions were initiated with Elder Achim Bischof of the German Baptist Church , Bad Homburg , with a view to changing the time of Sunday worship to Sunday mornings, when meetings could be held in the old church building in Bad Homburg .
At a joint meeting with the German Gemeindevorstand (Elder-Board) held on June 7, 1990 , two proposals were submitted:
1) that the church should meet on Sunday mornings at 09:45 a.m. in the old auditorium and
2) that the German Baptist Church also sponsor the Bad Homburg mission as a mission activity, alongside IBC Wiesbaden.
Both proposals were welcomed and endorsed by the Gemeindevorstand.
The warm response and generosity of the German church was indicated by their refusal to accept payment for the rental of their old building or for the cost of utilities for two years until the work was well-established and self-supporting.
In May 1990 the name of the mission was changed to the “International Christian Fellowship of the Taunus” to reflect its open policy of ministering to a necessarily wide spectrum of Christians. This step was approved at a full Business Meeting of IBC, Wiesbaden in that same month.
The International Christian Fellowship of the Taunus(ICF) began meeting on Sunday mornings at 09:45 a.m. from July 1, 1990 ; the benefit of this change was immediately seen in the increase in attendance. ICF was, from its inception, a mission enterprise of IBC, the EBC and the BEFG. It was felt that there are significant benefits, as well as strong Biblical precedents, to being a member of a group of churches.
ICF adopted the Southern Baptist Confession of Faith known as the “Baptist Faith & Message,” (1963 edition) as its basic Statement Of Faith and the “Rechenschaft vom Glauben” (“Statement of Faith” – 1977 edition) of the German Federation of Evangelical Free Churches (BEFG).
ICF called and confirmed M. P. Levey as their Pastor on July 7, 1991 . On February 7, 1993 , ICF was constituted as a fully self-supporting church and in May 1993 became a full member of the German Federation of Evangelical Free Churches (BEFG) and of the EBC. As such, ICF remains within the jurisdiction of the EBC and the BEFG as a self-governing, self-supporting church.
ICF acquired its own premises at Hohemarkstr. 75, Oberursel and transferred all activities to this location in June 2001.In 2002, Richard Morschel and David Rowe were installed as Associate Pastors to build and diversify our leadership base.
In November 2004, Paul Grinyer was installed as Senior Pastor, succeeding the founding Pastor Martin Levey. In June 2009, Pastor Paul Grinyer completed his ministry at ICF and returned to the UK.
In August 2008, Pamela Culbertson joined the ministerial staff as the Youth Minister. She served faithfully in a variety of roles far-exceeding her call to Youth Ministry for five years before returning to her home state of Texas in August 2013.
In June 2010, ICF called Carsten Lotz to be Senior Pastor. Pastor Carsten and his wife, Melanie, and their three children, Philipp, Titus and Calvin have served in this role since August 2010.
After a period of restructuring and renewing its vision statement ICF called Jeremy Woods to serve as the Assistant Pastor-Family Ministries in November 2014. Jeremy arrived here in Frankfurt to begin full-time service on 1 December 2014.
FORMER MISSIONS AND VISION STATEMENT
The international community in any area is always confronted with the problems of personal and family isolation due to linguistic, cultural or political barriers. Therefore, an international church must be a spiritually-motivated community which provides fellowship for the isolated, support for the wavering, forgiveness for the fallen, encouragement for the discouraged, counsel for the confused and opportunity for service to those who are committed to Jesus Christ.
An international church is a unique setting in which to demonstrate the benefits of true Christian unity. It must be a church in which the diversity of race, culture, education, work, political affiliation and Christian tradition is harnessed to strengthen the unity which all true believers in Christ have – rather than to diminish it. The emphasis in its fellowship must focus on the substance of the Christian faith – as revealed in Scripture – and not merely on the form of its expression. This church must seek to be a living, practical demonstration of the love, grace, uniqueness, holiness and power of God as revealed in Christ.
As such it will always seek to be dependent upon and led by the Spirit of God – and will deliberately shun that which grieves Him and is alien to His teaching revealed in Scripture. Unity must be accompanied by the pursuit of purity in practice and in doctrine.
It will demonstrate the reality of its risen Lord by seeking to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit – and not in dependence upon merely human agency or programs.
It will be a church that is committed to ministering to the needs of all of its members and to their families – as well as to those in its vicinity who do not know Christ – and which receives spiritual and practical commitment from its members in turn.
These aims were formulated in a “Statement of Purpose and Vision” prepared by the membership and pastorate of this church and adopted on 26th. May, 1991. The text of this document reads as follows.
AUTHORITY AND PURPOSE
We, the members of the International Christian Fellowship of the Taunus, have united as a church to worship and serve Almighty God and fulfil the commandments and commission of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our purpose, under His authority, directed and mediated by the Holy Spirit, is to bear witness to Him as Lord and Saviour, thereby making disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus Christ has commanded us. (Mat. 28:18-20). Therefore, as Christ’s ambassadors, every individual has the ministry of reconciling others to God through Christ.
A CHRIST-CENTERED, BIBLICALLY-BASED MINISTRY
We recognise the Holy Bible as God’s inerrant Word, and Jesus Christ as its central focus. All that we do will be based on Biblical principles, Jesus Christ Himself being the example and pattern of our ministry and actions. Our goal is God’s glory and spiritual maturity for ourselves and others.
IDENTITY IN CHRIST
We recognise the Christian Church as “… a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God ..” (1 Pet. 2:9) whose primary task is to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.
Moreover, Jesus Christ “… is the head of the Body, the Church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.” (Col. 1:18).
There is only “… one Body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6). We were “… all baptised by one Spirit into one Body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Cor. 12:13).
We are a local realisation of the one Body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it. (1 Cor. 12:27). As individuals sharing one faith and one baptism in this Body of Christ, we are of equal standing before Almighty God, regardless of age, gender, race, religious heritage, or any other distinction for “… In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”
We especially encourage the spiritual development of children and their participation in ministry and worship for “… the Promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:17 & 39).
SERVICE-LIFE: GIFTS AND WORKS
We recognise that the risen Christ has given His Church “… apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.” He has called them to prepare us “… for works of service so that the Body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11). We will serve under the leadership of a pastor(s) called by God who will encourage development of each individual’s spiritual gifts. Therefore, our responsibility within the Body is to recognise and use our spiritual gifts for the good works prepared for us by God.
We, as the children of God, have direct access to Him through Jesus Christ, our only High Priest. Since we are the “temple of the living God” we are called to be a “House of Prayer for all nations”. Furthermore, we know that unless the Lord “… builds the house, they labour in vain who build it.” Therefore, we will pray without ceasing; we will precede our words, decisions, and activities with prayer. We will pray for ourselves and others. We will pray for the knowledge of God’s will through spiritual wisdom and understanding. Our vision is for continual, deep, sincere, effectual communication with our God our Father.
BODY LIFE AND FELLOWSHIP
We, as sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus, will “… love one another, for love comes from God.” Our fellowship will be compassionate, kind, hospitable, humble, gentle, patient, forgiving, and considerate of others. The “Peace of Christ” will rule our hearts. All we will do will be in the Name of our Lord Jesus. Therefore, our ministry is a ministry of love, to the saved and the unsaved. We will provide a spiritual home, temporary or permanent, to those specifically in the English-speaking international community within the greater Frankfurt area.
We, as the family of God, will provide regular times of worship, song, prayer, preaching and teaching to the international community.
In the name of Jesus, we will preach the good news of salvation, teach His commandments and exercise spiritual gifts. As far as it is Biblically consistent, worship will reflect the various traditions of our members.
Our public worship will be orderly, yet dynamic and evolving to reflect our growing knowledge of the love of Jesus, ministering as the Holy Spirit directs. Active participation of our members will be encouraged in all parts of our services. Our vision is to have worship services meeting the spiritual needs of individuals from diverse backgrounds.
We, as Christ’s flock, recognise the dangers of division, quarrelling, persecution and unholy living contrary to the Word of God. We will therefore pray and put on the full armour of God in order to stand firm against the spiritual forces of evil in the world and the universe.
A dynamic, progressive, living ministry. Since our vision is to make disciples for Jesus, our ministry will emphasise a Christ-centered Bible-based teaching.
We will press on toward the goal God has set before us, using our spiritual gifts in faith and love to minister God’s grace.
God has called International Christian Fellowship to be a Christ-centered community, loving Him and loving neighbour, transforming our culture through the power of the Holy Spirit.
* This is an independent group of 64 English-speaking Baptist churches located around continental Europe ; the EBC was originally conceived 40 years ago to meet the needs of US and British military personnel but since the mid-1980s has shifted its emphasis to establishing and supporting churches for “internationals,” i.e. civilians in all professions whose primary language is English. It is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, USA (SBC) and is a full member of the European Baptist Federation (EBF) – which embraces the majority of Baptist churches in Eastern & Western Europe – and the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) which represents almost 40 million Baptists worldwide and an additional 120 million co-worshippers.