UOC hierarch holds liturgy for the parish affected by raiding

Metropolitan Sergiy of Ternopil and Kremenets, surrounded by believers of the UOC in the village of Stenka. Photo: Ternopil Eparchy

For the first time, the bishop's liturgy was held not in a typical church, which was seized by schismatics in 2019, but in a room temporarily adapted for worship.

On July 26, 2020, Metropolitan Sergiy of Ternopil and Kremenets led the Divine Liturgy in a temporary church of the UOC in the village of Stenka, Buchach District, Ternopil Region, the press service of the Ternopil Eparchy of the UOC reports.

The hierarch was concelebrated by Fr. Yaroslav Savka, Dean of the Buchach Deanery, Archpriest Vasily Moysiuk, rector of the church, and other clerics of the Ternopil eparchy.

“Vladyka was warmly greeted by the numerous parishioners of the community in honor of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Stenka. For them, today's holiday is special, since they met their Vladyka for the first time not in a typical church, which was taken from the community by members of the OCU in 2019, but in an adapted temporary building. However, as the archpastor noted, great joy embraces everyone, because almost the entire community that used to pray in a typical church remained faithful to Christ and was not tempted by temporal earthly amenities. Although it is hot and rather crowded in the adapted room, people burst with unearthly joy,” the diocesan press service emphasized.

The UOC hierarch also consecrated a worship cross installed near the temporary temple.

The believers who took part in the celebration hope that soon they will be able to pray in a new temple which the UOC community is building instead of the one taken over by the schismatics.

In his homily Metropolitan Sergiy recalled how important it is to “remain nowadays children of God and familiar to God in spite of any tribulations”.

We will remind that earlier believers of the UOC in the village of Stenka appealed to President Vladimir Zelensky with a request to protect them from church raiders. The pressure on the rural community of the UOC has been going on for more than one year: for example, in March 2015, members of the Right Sector spread agitation in order to discredit the believers. Provocateurs fomented an inter-church conflict, stirred up violence against the rector of the local church, forced the believers of the UOC, as an ultimatum, to change their confessional affiliation and were engaged in an anti-church propaganda, which was actively promoted by the UGCC priest.

On January 3, 2020, about 120 activists of the OCU came to seize the church house in which the UOC community of Stenka village performed worship services. 

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