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Pavel Sviridov, 1909.

Photo courtesy of D.O. Yunak.

Sviridov, Pavel Afanasievich (1886–1933)

By Andrey D. Yunak

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Andrey D. Yunak started his ministry for the Adventist Church in 1999, first as an elder for ten years and then as a pastor until today. He specializes in working with and for children and teenagers, including developing Pathfinder clubs and Ambassador Ministry. In addition, Andrey is an instructor of children and youth tourism, a title he received from the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. Currently, he is enrolled in a theology program at Zaoksky Adventist University. He is married and has six children. 

First Published: January 29, 2020 | Last Updated: April 6, 2023

Pavel Afanasievich Sviridov was a pastor, church administrator, and editor from Russia.

Early Years

Pavel Sviridov was born in December 1886 as the eldest of eight children in the family of Afanasiy and Anna Sviridov in the village Timoshevka, Taurida Governorate. His parents, who moved to Timoshevka from the Kursk Governorate, were originally Orthodox Christians. Later on, they were baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pavel Sviridov studied in Timoshevka, where he graduated from public school in 1900.

In 1902, Pavel caught a bad cold, became severely ill, and was admitted to a hospital. His bed was near that of his critically ill father in the same hospital. The father was 36, and Pavel was 15. Both could speak to each other during short periods when their medications lowered their high temperature. The father, being aware of his impending death, left to his son three biblical texts that he kept on citing even while in the hospital: "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8). "My son, keep your father's command, And do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; Tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; When you sleep, they will keep you; And [when] you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment [is] a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life" (Proverbs 6:20-23). "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22).1 

The father passed away in the hospital, leaving his wife to care for eight children. The hospital physicians did not offer much hope for Pavel’s recovery. One of them seriously told his mother: “Don’t spend money on giving treatment to your son! It’s all futile. You better save your money for your younger children.” When Pavel heard those words, he cried to God. He vowed that if the Lord made him live longer, he would live for Him. God heard his prayer, and soon he left the hospital, healed and strong. In January 1904, in the city of Yevpatoria, Pavel Sviridov was baptized by immersion and joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church.2

Ordination and Ministry

In 1907, Pavel Sviridov joined the Adventist Seminary at Friedensau and completed pastoral studies in the autumn of 1908. From 1909-1912, he served in Kharkov, Poltava, and Kiev, and again in Kharkov.

In December 1910, Pavel Sviridov married Friederike Schulze, an Austrian citizen. Their first son Vladimir was born in Kharkov in November 1912. In the same year, Sviridov was ordained to gospel ministry in the city of Yevpatoria, and began his pastoral service in Caucasus, in the Middle Caucasus Conference with an office in Vladikavkaz. While there, he and his wife were blessed with a son in 1914. Then in November 1915, a daughter Lydia was born.3

In the latter half of 1915, Pavel Sviridov was elected chair of the Chernomorskaya Conference. He carried out this ministry in severe conditions of famine, war and postwar devastation. In 1922, Sviridov was elected chair of the Volynskaya Conference.

In 1924, Pavel Sviridov was elected as the executive secretary and assistant chair of the All-Union Council of Seventh-day Adventists. In 1925, he took over the administration of the Upper Volga Conference. After the 6th All-Union Session of SDA Church (1928), Sviridov became leader of the South East Union. Along with administrative work, he was also engaged in literature. While living in Moscow, Sviridov was associate editor of the Golos Istiny magazine.

Later Years

In 1931, after the closure of the bulk of church organizations in the Soviet Union, Sviridov informally guided the Azovskaya Conference while serving officially as a pastor for the Adventist congregation in Rostov-on-Don.

Sviridov maintained a healthy lifestyle. He loved the great outdoors, enjoyed sunlight, fresh air, clean water, and manual labor, and consumed simple food, preferring a raw vegetable diet in summer season.

Sviridov died of typhus on May 26, 1933, at the age of 46.

Sviridov's two sons, Pavel and Evgeniy, moved to California, United States. From there, they sponsored the construction of the church buidling in the city of Taganrog, Rostov Region, Russia, and continued to support the church by organizing evangelistic programs. 

As an administrator, Pavel Sviridov was instrumental in establishing the Adventist mission in Caucasus. In his autobiography, he recounts some salient points of his ministry:

During the czarist rule I was often persecuted on account of my gospel ministry…arrested and convicted. I travelled over the European part of Russia, Caucasus, and Crimea. I happened to visit Siberia, the Far East, Central Asia, and Transcaucasia. I faced danger travelling by train, by sea and river, as well as in a sledge during snow storms…I didn’t count the hours.4

Sources

Löbsack, J. H. Velikoye Adventistskoye dvizheniye i Adventisty Sed’mogo Dnia v Rossii. Rostov-na-Donu: Altair, 2006.

Sviridov, P. A. Autobiography. Unpublished Manuscript, March 25, 1931. Personal Archives of Dimitry Yunak.

Yunak, D. O. “Oblako svidetelei. Rukovoditeli Tserkvi ASD v Rossii ot organizatsii ejo pervoi obshchiny do zakrytiya Vsesoyuznogo Soyuza ASD,“ 2013. Personal Archives of Dmitry Yunak.

Yunak, D.O. Prochiye ot semeni yeyo. Istoriya Tserkvi Adventistov Sed’mogo Dnia v Ukraine (1886-2011). Tula Oblast, 2014. Personal Archives Dmitry Yunak.

Notes

  1. All Scripture passages are from the New King James Version, 2011.

  2. Pavel Sviridov, Autobiography (Unpublished manuscript, March 25, 1931). In private Archives of Dmitry Yunak.

  3. Aside from these, there were other children. Elena was born on November 24, 1917, in Odessa. She, however, died just under two years, on October 6, 1919. At that time, Pavel and Friederike lived in a German settlement of Chernogorka, where on July 20, 1920, Friederike gave birth to twin girls, Elizabeth and Gertrude. Famine and epidemics were rampant in those days. After a year, in 1921, Elizabeth died on July 15, and Gertrude on July 25. In January 1924, in Kosice (Czechoslovakia), a daughter Jadwiga was born. Evgeniy, the seventh child of the Sviridovs, was born in Tver in October 1926, while the eighth, Oleg, was born in Rostov-on-Don in December 1928.

  4. Sviridov, Autobiography.

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Yunak, Andrey D. "Sviridov, Pavel Afanasievich (1886–1933)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 06, 2023. Accessed February 26, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DD7V.

Yunak, Andrey D. "Sviridov, Pavel Afanasievich (1886–1933)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 06, 2023. Date of access February 26, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DD7V.

Yunak, Andrey D. (2023, April 06). Sviridov, Pavel Afanasievich (1886–1933). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 26, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DD7V.