After seizure UOC community of Bokhoniki prays in emergency school premises

02 September 2021 23:49
The building of the former school in Bokhoniki, where the believers pray. Photo: The building of the former school in Bokhoniki, where the believers pray. Photo:

Believers prayed in the school building since 1994 while building the St. John the Theologian Church in Bokhoniki and returned there after the seizure, in 2019.

The John Theological community of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the village of Bokhoniki, Vinnytsia region, is praying in an emergency building of a former school and hopes that it will soon have a new church, reports “Pravmir”.

The former Church of the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian was seized by supporters of the OCU in 2019. Now, next to it are flagpoles with the flags of Ukraine and the village. According to local residents, services are not often held there.

After the seizure, parishioners started praying in a converted former school building. Here the community once arose – the building was handed over to believers in 1994, and services were performed there for several years, while the temple was being built.

“I was among those who started from scratch,” said the head of the parish, retired teacher Anatoly. “I placed the cross on the dome. This was my life and the life of my family. We put much effort in that temple. We made an iconostasis; my daughter brought the icons from the Sretensky Monastery in Russia. The altar icon there is also ours ... Until recently, we haven’t believed that the church could be taken away from us. We were not prepared. Otherwise, we could have taken valuable things – a throne icon, a carved cross, two Gospels, censers ... But this did not happen. Only an antimins was taken. And the people who were in that temple moved here."

The school building, converted into a temple, is old and dilapidated. But the rector, Archpriest Artemy Mishchenko, shows it with pride and tells how much is done here by parishioners. The believers repaired the ceiling, which almost immediately fell, purchased and installed a stove for heating. There is no electricity in the room, and so that one could read, small lamps powered by solar panels were installed in the altar and above the choir. But there is still not enough light in the temple, and it is especially difficult in winter. On the festive all-night Christmas and Easter vigils, parishioners bring a gasoline generator – then the temple is fully illuminated.

The refectory and the part of the building where firewood is kept for the stove are in a deplorable state – the ceiling is collapsing, the walls are crumbling before our eyes.

Father Artemy shared his hopes for a new church – donors promised to help, and now the issue of allocating a site for construction is being decided. He also dreams of a new refectory for the parish and a room for the priest to sleep in to be closer to the flock – the priest goes to Bokhoniki for service from Vinnytsia.

“Our community, though small, is like a family. It is very good! We try to understand and support each other. There are now 32 people in the community, in summer fewer people go to services, 15-20 people. And at Easter this year there were 50 people. The heart rejoices the community is growing at least a little. We try not to lose heart, thank God for everything!"  said the rector.

As reported, the UOC community in Bokhoniki needs help. Requisites for donations: 4149 4390 4701 5478 (Mishchenko Artemy Alexandrovich).

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