In Memoriam: Dr. Alex Leonovich - Longtime NRB Board Member, Slavic Missionary Service Executive Director

Alex LeonovichLongtime NRB Board Member Dr. Alex Leonovich went to be with the Lord on Wednesday after nearly seven decades of missionary, pastoral, and evangelistic work.

"Alex was a giant among the NRB faithful. He never lost sight of his calling and never lost his love for NRB," remarked NRB President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright.

Born in Belarus in 1922, Dr. Leonovich came to the United States with his parents and young brother Nick in 1929. After graduating from the Nyack Missionary College in Nyack, NY, he served as a missionary in Canada, South America, and Continental Europe.

While in South America, Dr. Leonovich directed the Russian Gospel Broadcasts from HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. From there, he went into the jungles of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, laboring among the thousands of Slavic settlers in those countries. While in Europe, he was engaged in field evangelism work among the Russian speaking displaced persons.

Before taking on the leadership of Slavic Missionary Service in 1958, Dr. Leonovich served as a pastor of two American Russian/Ukrainian churches simultaneously for four and a half years. He was marked by his peers as a "fiery youth missionary preacher in both Russian and English." After taking on the responsibility of SMS, Dr. Leonovich continued to pastor the Emmanuel Baptist Church in Manville, NJ, until he resigned in 1970 to devote more time to SMS, which has reached the more than 350 million Slavic people worldwide since its inception in 1933.

At the forefront of missionary broadcasting into the former Soviet Union by way of HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, Dr. Leonovich carried on extensive outreach to the Slavic speaking world both home and abroad for more than five decades as the Executive Director of SMS International. Leonovich has been credited for playing a key role in the spiritual direction of the “new” Russia.

"A new pastor friend we met in Russia whose church was bulldozed by the Russian government recalled just last week how he grew up listening to Alex Leonovich on the radio,” shared Rich Bott, Chairman of the NRB Board of Directors and President of Bott Radio Network. “His mother would tune in and they would listen secretly. I imagine there are many other people faithfully serving the Lord today in Russia who share a similar story."

In addition to his role at SMS, Dr. Leonovich also served on the Board of Directors of the National Religious Broadcasters, Christian Bridge, and Radio Bible Class. He was also past President of the Russian-Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Union of the United States.

“Alex and his wife were fixtures at NRB for as long as I can remember,” added Bott. “Their enthusiasm for the Gospel and love for the Russian people was inspiring.”

Visitation will take place on Friday, March 15, at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Manville, NJ, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Graveside services will take place on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Somerset. A memorial service will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, monetary contributions can be made in memory of Dr. Leonovich to:

Slavic Missionary Service
PO Box 307
South River, NJ 08882


Dr. Alex Leonovich:

Published: March 14, 2013