Stari Koshary, Ukraine, April 24, 2019
Supporters of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” have been attempting to seize the canonical Church of St. John the Theologian in the village of Stari Koshary since February. However, as their attempts have thus far proved unsuccessful, they have announced new plans.
Proving that nationalistic fervor is for them more important than faith, the schismatic activists now intend to seize the church building on the feast of Pascha, the Bright Resurrection of Christ, rather than attending their own church to pray and celebrate. According to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, such people represent the true Ukrainian Church.
This was stated by the mayor of Stari Koshary in the Volyn Province Galina Shepshelei, reports the site of the Volodomir-Volyn Diocese.
The mayor’s statement comes after the rector of the church, Archpriest Sergei Korenyuk, refused to hand over to her the keys to the church and refused the idea of alternating services with the schismatics.
The confrontation around St. John’s Church began on February 10, when Shepshelei initiated a meeting of the village community to vote the church into the schismatic group. On April 5, the Volyn Provincial administration registered this transfer, though the parish community itself had voted to remain loyal to Christ in His canonical Orthodox Church, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists. Then, on April 20, the activists tried to physically seize the church, though the faithful were able to repel the attack.
Shepshelei announced that if Fr. Sergei does not hand over the keys by Pascha, there will be a fight and there will be people who will seize the church. The building, she says, will be sealed, “and your prayers will be on one side of the church, and ours on the other,” the mayor said.
“The events around the church on April 20 that show that misunderstandings, enmity, and mutual accusations are already causing irreparable harm to the recently peaceful village. A priest of 18 years carries out his pastoral ministry in Stari Koshary, and his task is to unite people, not to divide,” reads the diocesan website.
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