Aleksei G. Galladzhev
Aleksei Galladzhev was a pioneer Seventh-day Adventist missionary in Georgia and Armenia.
Aleksei Georgievich Galladzhev was born on November 7, 1888 into a well to do Armenian family, the Gallajyans. Young Aleksei’s parents belonged to the Armenian Gregorian Church. Haven immigrated to Russia, they settled down on the skirts of the city of Rostov-on-Don. Their last name was “russified” and spelt “Galladzhev”. Having graduated from secondary school, Galladzhev first entered the Armenian seminary but, in a short time, was transferred to a gymnasium. Hence, Galladzhev got acquainted with the teaching of Tolstoy. He even sent Tolstoy a letter sharing his doubts. In the letter of response, Tolstoy wrote: “What’s most important, my son [is] that you should act according to your conscience.” After his gymnasium, Galladzhev entered the Moscow Teacher’s Institute. One day he attended a worship service in an Adventist church and soon got baptized.
Ordination, Marriage and Imprisonment
After his baptism, Galladzhev was offered a job as a secretary at the office of the Moscow Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1928, he was ordained to pastoral ministry. That same year, he married J.H. Löbsack’s daughter Amalia.
Around 1930, he was sent to serve in Transcaucasia Yerevan where he became the president of the Transcaucasian Mission Field.[i] While there, he visited a small shoe-repair shop where three brothers of Armenian descent were employed. On that day only one of them, Bagram by name, was present. After Galladzhev had started a topic on religion, Bagram invited him home. The two brothers of Bagram also took interest in Adventist message. Soon after all of them received baptism. The first worship services were conducted in a two-story house owned by the Armenian brothers. In 1930, Galladzhev moved to Tbilisi, Georgia as pastor of the city. In 1932, a strong Adventist congregation comprising a small group of believers was organized with Bagram as leader.
The Galladzhevs did not have their own children. Hence in 1935, they decided to adopt five year old Rosanna, a girl from a poor German family in 1935. In 1939, he was arrested on a charge of religious propaganda and sentenced to four years of imprisonment. However, he was discharged from prison three years after. During her husband’s years in prison, Amalia heard of the death of her father in prison. As if the sorrow was not enough, in 1941, two weeks after the beginning of the Second World War, Amalia was arrested herself. It was only in 1946 that Galladzhev obtained information from the secret police (KGB) that his wife had been executed by shooting in prison, on February 4, 1942.
In 1945, following a request from G. A. Grigoriev, Galladzhev moved to Moscow to serve as a secretary of the All-Union Council of Seventh-day Adventists and a pastor for the Moscow Adventist church.[ii] In 1947, Galladzhev married Lyubov Ivanovna Skiratova. In 1952, Galladzhev was re-arrested on the charge of restoring an Adventist congregation in city of Leningrad.[iii] He was released in 1954 on the grounds of amnesty in connection with the death of I.V. Stalin. However, he was not allowed to live in Moscow anymore. Therefore, he moved to serve as a pastor at a church in his home city Rostov-on-Don. His ministry was blessed. He was instrumental in bringing together brothers and sisters who had survived Stalin’s excesses while helping them grow in faith.
In 1955, Galladzhev became the leader of the Adventist Church in Ukraine. He settled down in the city of Belaya Tserkov and, in 1956, moved to Kiev. In 1958, he was invited to come to Moscow to pastoral service for the Moscow Adventist church. At that time, he was already 70. He retried shortly afterwards.
After a severe illness that got him bedridden for almost a year, Aleksei Galladzhev died on January 31, 1974. He was buried at the Vagankovskoe Cemetery in Moscow.
Aleksei Galladzhev was a pioneer worker in Georgia and Armenia. Through his pathfinding work, the Seventh-day Adventist congregation in Yerevan was founded and organized.
Zhukalyuk, N.A. Vspominaite nastavnikov vashikh. Kiev: Djerelo Zhyttia, 1999.
Heinz, D. A. Oparin, D. Yunak, А. Pešelis. Dushi pod zhertvennikom. Kniga Pamyati Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia, posviashchennaya zhertvam religioznykh repressiy vo vremya Tsarskoi Rossii I Sovetskogo Soyuza (1886-1986). Khar’kov: Fakt, 2010.
Stele, G. “The Unstoppable River.” Mission 360, March 2013.
Yunak D. O. “Oblako svidetelei. Rukovoditeli Tserkvi ASD v Rossii ot organizatsii ejo pervoi obshchiny do zakrytiya Vsesoyuznogo Soyuza ASD.” Personal Archives of Dmitry Yunak, 2013.
[i] Organized in 1920, this field covered Grusia, Armenia, Aser-baidjan, Abhasia, Adjaria So-cialistic Soviet Republics and South-Osetia autonomical district. See “Transcaucasian Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald, 1930), 270.
[ii] See Joseph Miklosh, “From Christianity History in Russia,” accessed March 6, 2019, http://noelrt.com/?p=1647; c.f. Dmitry Yunak, “Oblako svidetelei. Rukovoditeli Tserkvi ASD v Rossii ot organizatsii ejo pervoi obshchiny do zakrytiya Vsesoyuznogo Soyuza ASD,” Personal Archives of Dmitry Yunak, 2013.
[iii] See mention of arrest by Galina Stele, “The Unstoppable River,” Mission 360, March 2013, 25, also online at http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/Mission%20360/Mission360_20131001-V01-03.pdf.