Details of raider attack on the church house in vlg. Stenka become known

Temple of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Stenka. Photo: news.church.ua

The UOC parishioners met with the head of Ternopil RSA and asked to protect their rights, but on the next day, activists of the OCU came to take away the church house.

On January 3, 2020, activists of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine tried to seize the church house, in which the religious community of the temple of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in honor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Stenka, Ternopil Region, held divine services. Archpriest Vasily Moysiuk, rector of the seized temple of the canonical Church, told the UOJ reporter about the details of the raider attack on the church house.

“Yesterday, our parishioners went to the Ternopil Regional State Administration, met with the head (chairman of the Ternopil Regional State Administration Igor Sopel – Ed.) and asked to be given a plot of land for the construction of a new church in order to be able to have worship, as the OCU supporters obstruct it. Even the locks were changed in the chapel where we used to perform lithium services,” said Archpriest Vasily.

According to him, employees of the regional state administration refused to let believers to Sopel, arguing that they had not scheduled their appointment. However, later the head of the Ternopil Regional State Administration received the parishioners of the UOC and even rebuked his employees for not immediately letting the visitors meet with him.

On the next day, January 3, 2020, a meeting was held between representatives of various faiths, which was attended by a representative of the diocese. During the meeting, he also spoke about the fact that the Orthodox inhabitants of the village are not able to freely practice their faith and pray.

“Now court trials are pending. The activists of the new church structure have forged the protocols, listed minor children there, even parishioners of the UGCC signed up,” Archpriest Vasily continued his story.

He suggested that the idea of trying to seize the church house came from supporters of the new church structure after the news about the meeting of the regional governor with the parishioners of the UOC and the session of the Council of Churches, which was attended by a representative of the Ternopil Diocese of the canonical Church, was published on the website of the Ternopil Regional State Administration.

The official reason for the clash was the bell, which the parishioners of the UOC had earlier bought at their own expense.

“We would have this tradition: to ring the bell when someone died. At first they forbade us, but then they allowed us,” Archpriest Vasily shared with the UOJ correspondent.

On the evening of January 3, adherents of the OCU came to the courtyard of the church house and began to demand that the bell be dismantled and the house given away.

Activists treated the rector of the UOC temple, who’d come to the scene, very aggressively – they began to throw snow at him and shout insults.

They took off the gates of the house from hinges and carried it away in an unknown direction. People, who'd arrived to defend their house church, were pushed off the porch, beaten on the head and stomach.

Law enforcement officers were also at the scene. They did not allow the OCU activists to come close to Archpriest Vasily, but at the same time they did not prevent the adherents of the new church structure from the raider seizure. Later, the church house that became the subject of the dispute was sealed and the police accepted an application, written by members of the UOC religious community.

The UOJ employee was only able to contact Archpriest Vasily at 11:20 p.m., since supporters of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine prevented him from performing the funeral service for the deceased villager, and the clergyman was able to worship only after the events around the church house. At the time of the conversation with the correspondent, the rector of the temple returned to the courtyard of the house and, despite the late hour and fatigue, planned to carry out night watch with several parishioners who’d come to support him.

Recall that in the evening of January 3, 2020, nearly 120 activists of the OCU came to seize the church house of the UOC in the village of Stenka, Ternopil Oblast.

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