City authorities in the Belarus capital, Minsk, have been issued with a warning of God’s pending judgement after they authorised the destruction of a church building in the city.
In video address filmed outside a pile of rubble earlier this week, the pastor of New Life Pentecostal Church, Vyacheslav Goncharenko, directed his complaint against “all those people who were participants in this action, made a decision, and today they are destroying the temple, bringing it down.”
“Woe to you. And fear God. After all, His judgment will take place soon. No one who touched the saints will go unpunished”, he declared.
According to the Forum 18 News Service, the congregation was evicted from its church building in February 2021. It was then banned from meeting for worship in the church car park as well.
Forum 18 says the bulldozing began on Tuesday and was ordered by Capital Construction Management Company, which is owned by Minsk City Executive Committee. The group says it asked the company, the Office of the Plenipotentiary for Religious and Ethnic Affairs, and Minsk City Executive Committee for the grounds for the bulldozing, but none would explain.
In his video message, Pastor Goncharenko described the destruction as "flagrant lawlessness". "God sees everything," he added. "He sees today our suffering, our grief, our pain. He sees likewise today the mockery of wicked people. He sees their blasphemy.” He warned that God would not leave unpunished those who attack "what is sacred."
Belarus is run by the pro-Putin regime of its dictator, President Lukashenko. Since 2002, it has repeatedly denied New Life Church's requests for permission to change the official designation of the former cowshed it bought that year into a place of worship.
The Forum 18 News Service says this is in contrast to a disused railway carriage 500 metres from New Life's building, which was used from January 2001 by a community of the regime-supporting Belarusian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. That community, Forum 18 reports, has now built a church, without any regime obstruction.
Pastor Goncharenko thinks that buying a new building is not possible. "No-one will sell us a religious building, and religious communities are not allowed to have regular religious meetings in a non-religious building," he commented.