A weeklong Soviet-American religious vigil to pray for success of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit hit a sour note yesterday when the expected delegation of 11 Soviet churchmen arrived in this country missing a member.
The Rev. Alexi Bichkov, general secretary of the All Union Council of Evangelical Christians-Baptists and a frequent visitor to this country, had to stay in Moscow because he had not received a U.S. visa.
A spokeswoman for the State Department said that Bichkov, who was a host for evangelist Billy Graham's visits to the Soviet Union, "has not been denied a visa. He simply has not been issued a visa yet."
Bichkov and the 10 other Soviet churchmen had been invited by the Washington Cathedral and the National Council of Churches to join with American Christians in nonstop prayers for the success of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit. The vigil begins tomorrow.
Meanwhile, in the Soviet Union, a special mass to pray for the success of the talks has been scheduled at Leningrad's Trinity Cathedral and in other churches, according to Tass, the Soviet news agency.
The Washington Cathedral vigil begins with a community-wide service tomorrow at 4 p.m., with prayers by church leaders from both countries and music by the choir of the St. Nicholas Orthodox church. The daily vigil begins each morning at 7:30 and continues to 12:30 a.m.
Peace-oriented groups in several denominations have called for the ringing of church bells to celebrate the hoped-for signing of the agreement to reduce intermediate-range nuclear forces.