Hillsong Church Kiev
|Hillsong Church Kiev|
|Denomination||Assemblies of God|
|Senior pastor(s)||Brian and Bobbie Houston|
In September 1992, an outreach began in the October Palace in Kiev with team members from Hills Christian Life Centre (now known as Hillsong Church). Australian worship leader David Evans, US pastor Mike Berry and former Hillsong youth pastor Darko Culjak as a part of Hillsong's Nation Builders mission outreach officially began the church in a 700-seat movie theatre in downtown Kiev. But none of this would have been possible without the assistance of Pat Robertson's CBN and their television ministry into the former Soviet Union under Steve Webber. Through their assistance hundreds of young people committed their lives to Christ. Out of these initial outreaches Darko Culjak became the senior minister and established the church (then called "Kiev Christian Life Centre") officially on 4 October 1992. Darko Culjak lead the church, raised up a ministry team from among the new converts and oversaw the new church until Kiev's locally educated leaders could take over the work and come under the guidance and governance of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. On 1 June 1997, Darko turned the church over to a Ukrainian couple - Yevgeny Zhenya and Vera Kasevich, who had been with the church since the day it was planted and have thus become the new pastors of the church. After their appointment, Pastor Darko left and spent some rest time in the USA until he returned to Australia to pastor the Newcastle City Church.
As of 2007, the church holds 6 to 7 services each weekend (the number changes from season to season) with a combined attendance of around 3000. Pastor Zhenya and Vera have since gained an international recognition and are being invited to speak at various churches and Christian conferences around the globe. In February 2014, Zhenya and Vera announced to resign and later, Yuri and Tetiana Ravnushkin were appointed as the new Lead Pastors of Hillsong Church Kiev.
Hillsong Kiev tries to align its ministries structure with that of the mother church in Sydney. There are three-part courses for new believers, named "Discovery". The church reflects the belief that small "connect groups" are essential for the fellowship spirit within the church, especially as it gets larger. Connect groups and sometimes special services are held for people of various ages and with various interests, such as youth, or "people over 40", or those who like fishing or computers. Hillsong Kiev is characterized by a high level of involvement of its members in serving at the church and is believed by observers to have the best level of the organization of ministry among all Protestant churches in Europe.
As both Hillsong Church in Sydney and London, Hillsong Kiev holds three yearly conferences: the Hillsong Conference, the Colour Your World conference for women, and a men's conference. The Hillsong Conference, meant to equip other churches with both Biblical teaching and practical advice on organizing the life of a church, gathered about 3000 delegates from more than 250 churches from 12 countries, mainly representing the former Soviet bloc, in 2006.
The church has a Bible college offering a 1- to 3-year studies plan, meant mainly for those who wish to serve in the church, although participation in ministry at the "helps" level is not contingent on a person's completing a study course. Students from Protestant churches of other cities of Ukraine as well as other former Soviet-bloc countries also come for training.
The first year offers a basic study course on the main topics of the (neo)Protestant doctrine, with evening classes conducted once a week. The second year offers a more solid course in both theology and ministerial practice. The third year is meant for those aiming at full-time ministry and recommended by church leadership.
Offshoot in Moscow
On 1 March 2007, Hillsong Kiev launched its first service in Moscow, Russia, with subsequent large services, attended both by interested Christians from other churches and new people, held in April and May. In June 2007, the church successfully completed the registration process. As of June 2009, its average worship service attendance is about 200 people. The church plant was cooperatively supported by the Moscow-based Good News Church pastored by Rick Renner.
The church in Moscow was also pastored by Zhenya and Vera Kasevich. They spent a part of the week in Kiev and a part of the week in Moscow.
Hillsong Kiev, as of August 2007, has recorded 16 various albums, including youth and children's albums. Mainly, the songs on the albums are translations of the songs written at Hillsong Church in Sydney, and recently, Hillsong London, but there are also original songs written mainly by Vera Kasevich, who also serves as the church's worship pastor, and her and Zhenya's son Roman Kasevich.
There have been nearly 20 album recordings.
Hillsong Kiev does not yet own a worship centre, renting an exhibition marquee in industrial outskirts of Kiev for its services. It does own two offices, purchased in 2002 and 2007 on credit with instalments from both contributors from the church itself, and supporters abroad.
The criticism of the Hillsong Church Kiev is similar to the criticism expressed with regard to the mother church in Australia (by Australian churches belonging to other denominations) and reflects the general disapproval of certain aspects of what Pentecostals/charismatics believe in from the more traditional Protestant denominations. In particular, the teaching on prosperity is the target of attacks. However, according to Pastor Yevgeny Kasevich, he would not "go to the extremes" when teaching prosperity believing that "we are blessed (only) to be a blessing to others".
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- Official website (in Russian)