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World News

Church banned from holding services on its parking lot following building's forced closure

by Kelly Valencia

A church in Belarus has been banned from holding services and meetings in its car park following the closure of its building by local officials. 

Last month, its lead pastor, Vyachevslav Goncharenko, was fined the equivalent of £1,200 for defying local authorities' orders to halt services in the surroundings of New Life Church in Minsk, Belarus.

Now, according to Forum 18, Minsk's District Police has officially expelled the New Life Church congregation from its car park and warned of possible detention if they defy orders. 

Consequently, the church has moved services online. The leadership decided to hire an indoor venue and broadcast their service on their YouTube channel instead.  

The church had been meeting in the car park since February 2021, when the building was forcibly entered by police while members of the congregation were worshipping inside.

Local officials and the church have been involved in a dispute over the ownership rights of the building for 20 years.

New Life Church bought it's building - a former cowshed located in the western edge of Minsk - in 2002. The church then converted reformed the building to make host a big congregation. 

But, according to the church, authorities have rejected applications to change its legal designation as a cowshed.

Under current laws in the country, it is compulsory for religious groups to have special permission to own a building for religious purposes as well as permission to preach in the streets.

Pastor, Vyachevslav told Forum 18 the feel persecuted but won't stop organising its worship meetings, even if they are online.

He said: "As the Bible says: "For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them."

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