What We Do: History and Ministry Model
HopeRussia began 29 years ago as the church planting ministry of Blake and Cathy Purcell.
In 1990, one year after the Berlin Wall fell, Navigator staff members Blake and Cathy Purcell (right) moved their young family to Leningrad, Soviet Union, to start an evangelistic outreach to young adults. In the following year, the Soviet Union dissolved, and the city of Leningrad returned to its former name: Saint Petersburg. Many of the young people that Blake and Cathy were gathering together professed faith in Jesus Christ, so in 1999, the first new church was formally organized. 1999 was also the year in which HopeRussia Theological Seminary was launched. It was a momentous year.
2000-2018: A Growing Movement
In the early 2000s, the new HopeRussia Seminary began to fuel movement growth in two ways. First, the seminary’s students and graduates have planted a growing number of churches over the past eighteen years in St. Petersburg, as well as in Siberia, in Central Asia (all those mostly Islamic countries whose names end in “…istan.”), in the far East of Russia, and more recently in Moscow. The second way that the seminary has sparked movement growth is through word of mouth, as church leaders across the Russian-speaking world began to seek out the historic biblical Christianity that we teach and the mentoring that we provide.
The Present Day
Today, the ministry encompasses a network of more than twenty churches spanning nine time zones across Russia and three other Russian-speaking countries. There are about one thousand church members who are a part of this movement.
Our Pedagogical Model
HopeRussia Theological Seminary provides free masters-level education to resource-challenged students, most of whom are already leading churches, scattered across nine time zones from Latvia in the West to near the Sea of Japan in the East. Because most of our students are already pastors, we base our instructional model on two-week intensive courses (Fall and Spring) meeting in St. Petersburg. Our students fly to St. Petersburg for the intensives. This way they can continue pastoring their churches while they study with us.
Mentoring and Accountability
Although theological content is important, we want to provide students with much more than academic rigor. The glue in the HopeRussia Church Planting Network is the long-term mentoring we provide, helping our students and graduates grow as disciples of Jesus and shepherds of his flock. We invest a great deal of time and effort helping them develop both theologically/cognitively, and spiritually/relationally. Much of this mentoring is provided by HopeRussia Founder and President, Blake Purcell, who speaks fluent Russian. Each student is also required to participate in an accountability group for at least one academic year during their masters program.
HopeRussia Theological Seminary and Church Planting Network
Equipping the Russian-speaking church to transform the Russian-speaking world