Church colleagues and associates from the Soviet period gathered once again in significant numbers – perhaps for the last time – for the funeral of Alexey Bychkov (born 1928) at Moscow’s Central Baptist Church on 17 July. Bychkov had served as general-secretary of the “All-Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” from 1971 to 1990. The coming of religious freedom in 1990 had led to the breakup of the once-monolithic Council and the formation of dozens of evangelical denominations. Though the Soviet-era Baptist leadership was forced out of office in 1990, loyal older leaders such as Bychkov and the deceased Mikhail Zhidkov had remained active in the church’s educational and humanitarian programmes as long as health permitted.
One of the eulogists at Bychkov’s funeral was Moscow pastor Alexander Kozynko (born 1956), who himself died of a heart attack on 6 August. Educated in Russia and East Germany, Kozynko was fluent in both English and German. He served as first president of the Baptist “Moscow Theological Seminary” from 1993 to 2006. The institution has been headed since then by Peter Mitskevich.
William Yoder, Ph.D.
Smolensk, 18 August 2015