The need to create an open Christian theological school for educational work among various sections of the population became particularly acute at the onset of perestroika, when the change of social orientation brought many new people into the church. Father Alexander Men', a remarkable priest and preacher, was actively engaged in Christian enlightenment and catechization of the newly converted. The books of Fr. Alexander, a theologian and gifted writer, first published abroad and then in Russia, were always extremely popular.
As soon as it became possible, he began to give public lectures on the Bible, on the history of the religious path of mankind and of the Church, on religious philosophy and theology. His lecture theatres were always overcrowded. Fr. Alexander attracted specialists from his parishioners to teaching. On the basis of the existing lecture courses, it was proposed to form a Sunday Orthodox University (since 1991 - Open Orthodox University) under the leadership of Fr. Alexander. The first academic year started on 8 September 1990 with a lecture "Christianity" by Fr. Alexander. Next day, Sunday, he was killed on his way to his church.
The task of continuing his work and of fulfilling his plans fell to his followers. During five years academic curriculum was developed and in 1995 a formal higher educational organization “St. Andrew's Biblical Theological Institute” was established. St. Andrew’s was the first in Moscow to obtain state accreditation in theology.
Today St. Andrew's Institute is an educational charity developing academic and publishing programs to promote high level theological education, interconfessional and interreligious dialogue in Russia. St. Andrew's combines the best of confessional and secular educational institutions. It is Orthodox in background and ecumenical in character. Its hallmark is an appeal to laity and openness to dialogue and free discussions.
One of the most successful and important educational projects of St. Andrew’s is the Summer Theological Institute which is hold annually in Moscow and other places and aims to upgrade level of education of priests, pastors, students and teachers of theological seminaries and university departments and other specialists. St. Andrew’s organizes many international conferences and other academic activities.
St. Andrew’s became a leader in academic theological publishing in Russian and has published over 300 books -- textbooks, readers, monographs, reference material and academic quarterly “Pages: Theology, Culture & Education”. Many books have been approved as texts for students by the state and church authorities. St. Andrew’s aims to present to the Russian readers the best available Western scholarship from different Christian traditions. Among its translations are books by Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Charles Taylor, René Girard, Raymond Brown, Hans Küng, John Zizioulas, Rowan Williams, Paul Evdokimov, Bruce Metzger, Joseph Ratzinger, Geoffrey Wainwright, Karl Rahner, Jürgen Moltmann, and many others.