UOC believers of Tovtry speak of community life after seizure of temple

Хор прихода УПЦ в Товтрах. Фото: скриншот видео с YouTube-канала Черновицко-Буковинской епархии

The UOC community of Tovtry ousted from its church a year ago has become stronger, united even more, and hopes for a fair court decision on the seized church.

UOC believers of vlg. Tovtry of the Zastavna district, Chernivtsi region, spoke about the life of their parish after the seizure of the Holy Dormition Church by supporters of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) on May 18, 2019.

“On May 12 last year, our community celebrated the Divine Liturgy,” said a UOC parishioner of the village of Tovtry in a video posted on the YouTube channel of the Chernivtsi-Bukovinian Eparchy of the UOC. “We did not know that it was the last in our temple.” On May 16 last year, we had a funeral, our fellow villagers, our friends didn’t let us into the temple. On May 18, the church locks were cut off. Bad and very hard memories. But God comforted us and sent us good people, a very good family, who gave us the walls of the shop. Yes, our opponents say that this is only a shop, but in this shop, we have a church, God is with us, the Holy Spirit is with us.”

The parishioners are grateful that now they have a temporary temple in which there is everything for worship, and they do not have to pray on the street. At the same time, they do not give up hope that the court will ultimately make a fair decision regarding the seized church and that they will be able to return to it.

“We have become even more united in this church than before. More people came to church, youth, young families, and this is very joyful. Perhaps, the Lord gave us such tests, punished us for our sins. We will repent, pray and ask our Lord to give his order. As He does, let it be. We will not go against the will of the Lord. It was very difficult for us when we left the church and the service was performed outdoors when we stood outside the gate listening to the service ... But the Lord gave us such a building, and we have been serving here for a year,” the UOC parishioner added, thanking the rector of the parish Father John and Mother Alexander, "that they have united us so much and continue to unite."

The Chernivtsi-Bukovina Eparchy stated that the life of the religious community of the UOC in Tovtry continues to develop, despite the protracted trials.

“After the raider seizure, the Lord comforted the believers and sent them temporary premises for worship; iconostasis, an altar stand and icons for temporary use. The parishioners jointly and with God's help acquired the throne, the altar, the liturgical vessels, vestments, the cross with the calvary, installed the dome, etc. The Lord comforted the hearts of the faithful and before Easter they heard the ringing of the bell in the temporary church. In addition to the improvement of the temporary church, the religious community has grown quantitatively and qualitatively. After all, the trial that fell on the believers united and brought them together even more and strengthened the joint prayer to God for help in solving the problem created by the state registrar, Nikolai Gergeliuk, a parishioner of the OCU, who still continues to hold office and obstruct the UOC in our eparchy,” the spokesperson for the eparchy said.

As reported earlier, on May 18, 2019, OCU supporters seized the temple of the canonical Church in the village of Tovtry. Despite the fact that a whole year has passed since the seizure, the police did not start an investigation, and the court did not issue a decision on cancelling the illegal registration.

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