The following is a special report from Pastor Alexey in St. Petersburg. Alexey and his family moved to St. Petersburg two years ago this month in order to establish a biblical church. Since that time, the Lord has continued to bless and help this local body of believers by rooting them deeply in the Gospel of Christ and adding to their number. In his report, Alexey recounts the past two years and how God has sustained and blessed them.  

Big Change and Great Difficulty 

The story of big changes in our family started in August of 2013 when we moved to Saint Petersburg to start a new local church. Everything began with a small group of fifteen people there who really wanted to start a church where the truth of the Scripture would be preached. After prayer and counsel, the decision for us to move was made.

Almost immediately we began to really miss our home church, friends, and family in Penza. We felt like a cut-off branch, detached and left alone for survival. The first year was difficult for my family and I. The children were getting used to new schools, new friends, a new church – it wasn’t easy for any of us. Just before we moved my wife became pregnant with our fourth child, which we were very excited about. However, we lost the child two weeks after our arrival in St. Petersburg. Though it wasn’t easy for us, we endured all of this knowing that God cares about us.

Another difficulty for us was that the people in St. Petersburg are so different from where we came from. They are more educated, polite, independent, and self-sufficient. The mode of life and way of thinking in St. Petersburg resembles western culture. It wasn’t easy for us to find ourselves in that environment.

Necessary Speed Bumps 

From the beginning we made plans and even resolved problems with the original group of believers who had asked us to come. Immediately we began meeting together every Thursday with the whole group, where we studied the important topic of God’s view of the church. I also started leading a meeting of eight men from the group. The purpose of these meetings was to get to know each other better by examining the foundations of faith together to see if there were any gaps in their doctrine, and to ensure that we were in agreement on the foundational biblical truths.

As life went on, different problems started occurring. I began discussing with them the areas in which they were lacking understanding. It helped me evaluate their ability to receive information and even correction. Overall, I was beginning to understand what exactly they believed and how I could better help them. Through these meetings, the Lord helped me to solve various problems with some of the men and the result was unity in the foundational truths of the Bible!

A Church is Established  

In January of 2014 we had our first Sunday service as a recognized church, at which time we already had approximately forty members. The majority of people that joined our group had past experiences of difficult pastors and churches. They expected a lot from me, and when people have high expectations there is a danger of disappointment. By God’s grace we continued to see progress and blessing from the Lord.

In June of 2014 God allowed me to meet a brother whom other members of our church knew long before my coming to St. Petersburg. Previously, he had asked them to start a new church with him but they weren’t ready. So he started one without them about six months before I moved to St. Petersburg. Over the next several months we got to know each other quite well and came to realize that we were very similar in doctrine and practice. I asked him about his plans for the future – whether he sees the point in us growing separate or if we should move in the same direction, as one church, amplifying our service in the community by merging. He took some time to seriously think about my proposal and in September he announced that they had decided to join our church.


In that same month I began a series of sermons entitled: The Importance and Power of the Gospel. In October we decided to start small groups and a Sunday school in our community.

In December of 2014 eight more people joined our community. At this time approximately 60 people started coming to our services and we had to find a new place to have our meetings. Overall, that first year was an amazing journey that we thank God for.


In January of 2015 we celebrated the first anniversary of our church. At this time, we began to discuss and pray about having a plurality of elders. Therefore we made a decision to ask some of the overseeing brothers from my sending church in Penza and another sister church to help pick candidates within our church for pastoral ministry. After a series of individual meetings with different men, two candidates for were suggested. These two men are now being evaluated as they minister within our church in a limited capacity and will be reviewed and brought before the church community in 2016 to decide whether to extend the candidacy, to stop it, or to approve them as elders.

As these men began to help me more with leading the church, we decided to review not only our convictions and beliefs but also the direction of the church and who to build (or not build) relationships with outside of our local body. During this time God was humbling us by showing us our weakness and need for Him so that we would seek His grace in humility.

We praise God that He continues to work among us. In May, we baptized three new members in our church! It was a great blessing for our young community. Also in June, I officiated a wedding for a couple in our church for the first time. My wife and I had been preparing them for six months beforehand.

Just the Beginning

So far, this second year of ministry in St. Petersburg has been good and fruitful. We feel as though the life of the church has only begun. Our priorities are to establish a plurality of elders, to serve God and the people more effectively, and to guard against delusions and impure motives. God has blessed us with many young and gifted people. May He help us to be effective for His Kingdom and glory!

Western Europe

Iliya Hlushchak

Iliya Hlushchak