Born and raised in Baltimore, then moving to Florida in his youth, Russ came to faith in Christ as a third year college student, through the testimony of his brother Doug. Russ transferred from the University of Florida to Shelton College, affiliated with the Bible Presbyterian Church, and there he was introduced to the doctrines of grace, and felt God's call to preach. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Faith Seminary in Philadelphia in 1976.
Since then he has pastored churches in New York, Tennessee and Florida. In November of 2004 he was called from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, where he was serving as an Assistant Pastor and teaching Bible at Westminster Academy, to become senior pastor of Liberty Church, PCA. He and his wife Donna have two children, Nathan and Grace, both graduates of Covenant College, and seven grandchildren.