Our History

Florence Gospel Fellowship International
(AKA Reinassance Firenze)

Early History 2003 - 2006

by Scott and Terri Last

Reinassance Firenze Christmas Party 2005

Renaissance is a word that means “rebirth.” It is also a term that describes the movement that began in Italy in the 14th Century that brought Europe out of the Dark Ages into a new era of learning and artistic expression. The symbolism was not lost on Scott & Terri Last when they sensed God calling them to Italy in 2003 to help plant the seeds for a spiritual rebirth among a population that had increasingly moved away from its Christian heritage. Jesus said, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” With so many in Italy in need of rebirth, the reward was compelling even though the risks might be considerable.

In the summer of 2004 the Lasts and their Christian Associates International teammates prayerfully and quietly landed in the city of Florence as their first headquarters. The initial field team was small, which included Kevin and Barbara Macnish from the UK, Elizabeth Nash and Andrew Last from the USA. Their assignment revolved around two major goals. The main one being to begin the establishment of an English speaking, international community of Christ followers that could sustain itself, and reach into the Italian speaking world so as to multiply Christ followers in that community as well. The other one was to create the legal pathway for this new church and our missionary organization to be recognized by the Italian government, especially so that other missionaries from the USA might join us to expand the work in the future.

Establishing the international community was challenging, but it was the fun and rewarding part of the team’s ministry. Mostly, it was about making friends in language school and around town, sharing why we were in Florence, living out our faith in practical ways and gathering those who were interested in learning, growing and worshiping with us. We partnered with groups like Agape Italy, Il Varco, GBU and local churches who were willing to associate with us. We utilized our musical expertise, biblical knowledge and relational savvy in whatever ways we could to build goodwill and share Christ’s message of grace, peace and new life. We met in homes, parks, pubs, piazzas and cafes. We met with large groups, small groups and one-on-one. We studied Italian. We served the poor and marginalized. We supported and promoted the arts, befriended local business people, participated in sporting activities and sought to be good neighbors.

We expended no little effort in trying to reach out to international or English speaking Italian families, but we discovered that it was the international student and young adult population who seemed most eager to engage with us. While we appreciated their interest and involvement, we were initially frustrated by the reality that our most enthusiastic and appreciative community members were primarily short-termers in Florence. How would we ever launch a self-sustaining ministry without long-term residents as the backbone of the church? However, it was the Lord who showed us that we should not complain about those He was sending our direction. If it was His will to use us to impact these young adults living in Florence for a season, then we would make the most of our short time with them. As it turned out, the fruitful relationships built during our short seasons together proved to be very sweet and life changing.

Ironically, it was our own the Renaissance Firenze ministry team that ended up having to cut short its stay in Florence. This was due to the blockage of our other major goal of obtaining legal recognition for our missionaries. Sadly, the Italian government denied the applications for religious worker visas by Scott, Terri and Andrew. The processand reasons behind these rejections are too complex to explain here, but it obviously forced us to implement an early exit strategy. We received our rejection notice in June of 2006, and we needed to be gone before the year’s end. This was a huge disappointment for us. Nevertheless, in the Lord’s strength we rallied our team and our community for an autumn of life and ministry together that would end with a grand American Thanksgiving bash on the last weekend of November. We would do what we could and leave the future of Renaissance Firenze to our faithful God. Jesus promised to build His church, so He would have to supply leadership and resources for the future.

Looking back, it was a wonderful season of life and ministry together. When you have to live like there is no tomorrow, somehow it changes how you relate and deepens your experience. We loved every minute of fellowship and made the most of every opportunity to share, encourage and reach out. In the meantime, Scott was beating the bushes to find a local Christian pastor or organization willing to give some oversight, guidance or shepherding to the community. It was all to no avail until the very last week of November. By then we had all but given up, but God had another plan.

Pastor Maurizio Secondi and his wife, Tuula, had become our friends through our mutual association with Il Varco dei Biffi, a Christian outreach center in downtown Florence. Scott & Maurizio had played music together there and had started a friendly relationship. Maurizio, a native Italian is an experienced minister with excellent command of the English language and the Bible. Tuula, from Finland, is a gifted shepherd in her own right. The two of them had shown some interest in what we were doing, so we invited them to come to our final Thanksgiving celebration. We’re still not sure how it happened, but God moved in a very powerful way in Maurizio & Tuula’s hearts. Somehow, the Lord showed the two of them that shepherding this community was to be their next assignment. Scott and Maurizio met the next week and confirmed the transition over prayer and a coffee, and the rest is history. Though Renaissance Firenze has a new name, the same Spirit continues to lead Florence Gospel Fellowship International under the capable leadership of the Secondis. Scott and Terri continue to be friends and colleagues of Maurizio and Tuula who also have deepened their partnership with Christian Associates. Thanks be to our God who is doing great things on behalf of His people in Florence, Italy!

From Rome 1982 to Florence 2006

A bit of history

by Maurizio and Tuula Secondi


What's the meaning behind the words "Florence Gospel Fellowship International"? Let's try to unfold it in a few lines.

Since his conversion to Christ in 1974, Maurizio had been exposed, at different degrees, to the training and mentorship of Gospel missionaries and ministers from the USA, thus developing an open mindness for evangelism, mission work and church planting. Tuula, on her part, had been working in Finland in the office of the Christian monthly newspaper "The Herald of His Coming", and had come to Italy in 1978 as a missionary from Finland.

In 1982, Maurizio and Tuula were part of a team in starting an English speaking Christian fellowship among the international population in Rome, much like the present ministry in Florence.

In 1995, they moved from Rome together with their three children, sensing God's calling to establish their ministry in the city of Florence

On September 1999, they founded an Italian church and Christian center in the town of Castelfiorentino, 43 km. from Florence, and pastured there through the year 2004.

At the 2006 "Reinassance Firenze" Thanksgiving Celebration in Florence, in the home of Scott & Terri Last, Maurizio and Tuula heard the silent heartcry for Chistian fellowship from some of the international students in town, as they expressed their deep concern for the challenges to their faith in a rather foreign city such as Florence can be, in spite of all its artistic beauty.

Those words from the students sounded quite familiar to Maurizio and Tuula and somehow carried the same "spiritual tone" they had already heard back in Rome among many of their international friends in the Lord Jesus. At this very moment, Maurizio and Tuula realized that what they had just heard was the Lord's prompting on them to respond to this challenge. Thus they embarked on a new faith venture in Florence among the international students, as well as to the English speaking resident people. In December, 2006, building on the "Reinassance Firenze" foundation, they started the first official meeting of the “Florence Gospel Fellowship International”.

We believe we are taking part in an amazing move of God for our days, in this city of Florence, in Italy, in Europe, and to the nations. We deeply appreciate the "Reinassance Firenze" ministry as part of the spiritual legacy of "Florence Gospel Fellowship International", and will continue to call for a "spiritual Reinassance (rebirth)" among the population of Florence and beyond, in saying that,

"This same Good News that came to you is going out
all over the world.

It is changing lives everywhere, just as it changed yours"
(Colossians 1:6)

Early International Meeetings in Rome, at the YMCA, in 1982.