OCU activists make a third attempt to seize the UOC temple in Budiatichi

St. Nicholas temple of the UOC in Budiatichi is now sealed. Photo: “Bug”

Believers suspect that "certain people have received a large amount of money and now must work it off by any means".

On June 7, 2019, the community of St. Nicholas temple of the UOC of Budiatichi, Ivanichi District of Volyn Region, for the third time in a row has repulsed an attempt of forced seizure of the church building by the representatives of the OCU. As Vladimir-Volyn Eparchy of the UOC reported to the UOJ, the raiders became more active after the judge of the Volyn Regional Administrative Court closed the proceedings on the suit of Archpriest Ivan Sabivchak, rector of the UOC community, who challenged amendments to the statute of his parish being illegally made in favor of the OCU.

As follows from the text of the court decision, the administrative court came to the conclusion that the essence of the dispute belongs to the sphere of competence of the economic court. The case was closed, the plaintiff was given back the paid fee. The decision of the administrative court will be challenged in the appeal, however the OCU hardcore in Budiatichi, without going into details of the case, began to spread that “the case was won” and proceeded to repeated attempts to seize the temple.

The parish meeting of St. Nicholas UOC community was held on March 10, 2019. The community ruled it would not change its jurisdiction. Of 750 residents of the village, about 400 residents voted for the UOC, but no one took into account the legal protocol of the parish meeting. In turn, the “initiative group” on the transition to the OCU collected less than 180 signatures in support of the new church structure, of which half was already withdrawn. A meeting of a small support group in favor of the OCU was held a week later, the territorial community was also represented by people of other faiths or residents who did not appear in church at all.

On April 16, 2019, the then chairman of Volyn Regional State Administration issued a decree, according to which among several other UOC communities, the statutory documents of the community in Budiatichi were re-registered in favor of the OCU. Most of all in this situation, residents of the village were shocked by the fact that the “initiative group” actually expels the priest, who built and developed the parish, from the village.

Recall, on April 21, on Palm Sunday, parishioners found that church locks at the gate had been cut and replaced, while the doors to the temple had been fixed with a chain. On this day, the UOC community held its first service in the open air, and continues so to this day: the church is closed, but the believers are on duty around the clock in the territory to prevent a raider seizure.

On Friday, June 7, the community learned that the villagers were officially invited to the “festive worship service”, during which, in the presence of RSA official Nedishchuk, an “official opening” of the new OCU community and “inventory” would take place.

On Saturday, June 8, at 6:30 am, a worship service began at the church, which brought together priests from neighboring parishes and 80 parishioners.

Later, as reported, supporters of the OCU (about 20 people) approached, who were surprised by the presence of their fellow villagers. Apparently, the raiders were going to enter the territory of the temple and open the entrance (by all accounts, they were going to cut off wooden doors).

The night before, two representatives of the “initiative group” Makarchuk and Pavlovich were spotted at 3 am in home clothes, with a scrap-like object not far from the temple. They were walking towards the houses and hid their faces.

Representatives of this denomination from other parishes were invited to the “opening of the OCU”. The clergy of the OCU was surprised at what was happening in Budiatichi: in fact, a sizeable religious community does not want to go anywhere and defends its property. After a short wait, the raiders consulted and headed through the cemetery to the gate, which turned out to be open: the broken lock was lying on the ground. So they got to the territory and rushed to the door of the temple, but the believers pushed them aside, blocked the entrance and continued their praying.

After the moleben prayer, a representative of the local authorities came to the church’s territory and said that he wanted a peaceful resolution of the conflict and did not share any of the points of view. The community was asked to hand over the keys to supporters of the OCU, since the latter allegedly have all the necessary documents. However, the parish did not agree to do it.

In the presence of the police, the destroyed lock was replaced by another one; the key was handed over to the church elder. It was agreed with the law enforcement authorities that nobody should enter the territory or take any actions until the dispute is resolved in court.

Nevertheless, the community knows that the following Saturday, June 16, the raiders are again planning an offensive, for which the “sports crowd” is being attracted. According to the UOC believers, they want everyone to hear, see and realize the real state of things: “certain people have received a large amount of money and now they have to work it off in any way, therefore, they do their job not paying attention to anything or anyone and violating laws and moral norms.”

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What will happen if the Church of Greece recognizes the OCU?
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