The Gospel Flourishes In The Ussr’S Second Largest City

With 4.5 million people, Leningrad is the Soviet Union’s second-largest city. The city of the czars and of Lenin has a history of glory, heroism, and tragedy.

On the city’s north side, the Leningrad Baptist Church claims some 3,000 members plus perhaps twice that many unbaptized children and other adherents. One of more than 60 congregations in the northwest district of the All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (AUCECB), it is also the “mother church” for seven smaller churches in the Leningrad suburbs.

Two full-time pastors, a paid administrator, 27 “preachers,” 16 deacons, three choirs of more than 100 voices each, and several other music groups serve the congregation. The three Sunday services, each lasting two hours, are always crowded. Additional services are held on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday evenings. A Bible-study session is held on Monday nights, and classes for new Christians and other nurture opportunities round out the schedule.

An estimated 95 percent of the members have Bibles, and just about everyone else has a New Testament, according to Pastor P. B. Konovalchik. Some 10,000 additional Bibles are due early next year when the AUCECB expects its latest shipment from West Germany. However, other Christian literature and study materials are in short supply. In neighboring Estonia, where “Russification” efforts affect the long-range use of the Estonian language, the shortages are worse.

Within the past seven years, the number of young people in the northwest district’s churches has grown fivefold, according to AUCECB district superintendent Sergei Nikolayev. Sunday afternoon, Tuesday night, and Saturday evening services are primarily youth ...

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