Fred Smolchuck had a passion for spreading the gospel and the Pentecostal message to Slavic people. A founding member of the former Ukrainian Branch of the Assemblies of God, he served as a pastor and district official in Michigan, and he authored 16 books. His life is inextricably intertwined with the history of the Slavic churches in the Assemblies of God. He passed away peacefully in Springfield, Missouri, at the age of 90 on February 23, 2008.
Born February 26, 1917, in Boston, Massachusetts, Smolchuck was the son of Ukrainian immigrants to America. A series of tragic events, beginning with the death of Fred’s seven-year-old sister, led the Smolchuck family to accept Christ. Fred was saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit at the age of ten. He and his parents joined the Russian, Polish, and Ukrainian Pentecostal Church of Chelsea, Massachusetts. In 1934, he enrolled at Zion Bible Institute in Rhode Island, graduating in 1936. A year later he married Stella Hanko.
Ordained with the New England District of the Assemblies of God in 1938, Smolchuck pastored churches in Claremont, NH, Newark, NJ., Bridgeport, CT, Detroit, MI, and Warren, MI. His passion was ministering among Slavic people, and he held numerous positions of leadership. In 1941 he was elected to serve as executive secretary of the Pentecostal Union of the Assemblies of God (an independent Slavic organization). In 1947 he was elected superintendent of the Ukrainian Branch of the Assemblies of God, holding that position until 1952.
In Detroit, Michigan, he pastored the Russian, Ukrainian and Polish Pentecostal Church (later renamed Evangel Assembly of God). He attended Wayne State University and earned a bachelor’s degree from Great Lakes College. He was the founder of Central Bible College, Detroit Campus (an extension of the school in Springfield, Missouri). In 1964 he was elected secretary-treasurer of the Michigan District. He also served as a general presbyter.
In 1974, Smolchuck began traveling to Eastern Europe to minister to Slavic people. Upon his retirement as district secretary-treasurer in 1983, the Assemblies of God recognized him as an honorary presbyter for his 27 years as a general presbyter of the Ukrainian and Michigan Districts. He continued to travel as a missionary evangelist spanning the globe. He started a Bible school in the Ukraine, authored Ukrainian books and pamphlets, and wrote many articles for Assemblies of God publications. He helped to translate the Bible into modern Ukrainia, of which nearly two million copies have been distributed.
In 1995, Fred and Stella Smolchuck moved from Grass Lake, Michigan, to Springfield, Missouri. In recent years Fred wrote inspirational articles for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel and for Senior Adult Ministries. He also wrote his biography, “Who Else … But God!” His wife passed away in 2002. Fred Smolchuck is survived by a daughter, Carole Maker of Guthrie, Oklahoma; sons Rev. Fred Smolchuck, Jr. of Saginaw, Michigan and Richard Smolchuck of Chino Hills, California; seven grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and 1 great-great grandchild. Memorials may be made to “Missions for Ukraine” (c/o AG World Missions).
Fred’s obituary appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.
For further information, see “A Passion for His People: Fred Smolchuck and Slavic Pentecostalism” in the Spring-Summer 2006 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage.
FPHC Director Darrin Rodgers interviewed Fred Smolchuck on May 25, 2006. Listen to the interview on the iFPHC Podcast.
Posted by Glenn Gohr