Faithful in Rivne Province celebrate patronal feast in tent after church seized by schismatics

Kopytov, Ukraine, May 21, 2019     

The parish community of the canonical Ukrainian Church in the village of Kopytov in the Rivne Province celebrated its patronal feast today on the street near the church that was forcefully seized from them by schismatics a month ago.

The parish celebrates the holy apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian as its patron saint, reports the Union of Orthodox Journalists (UOJ). A special tent was erected especially for the festal occasion, and the Liturgy was celebrated by His Grace Bishop Pimen of Dubno.

The church building was seized on April 11, the UOJ reported, and the next day went to the house of the rector Archpriest Igor Vlasyuk to threaten him and his family and force them to leave the village. One parishioner was hospitalized due to the schismatics’ violent attack.

A UOJ correspondent attended the service and noted a number of clergy and lay people from neighboring towns who came to support the suffering Orthodox faithful of Koptyov and to congratulate them on their feast day.

Bp. Pimen appealed to the members of the community that lost its church to always follow one of the main commandments—to love even those who hurt you.

“The church raiders from the OCU deprived you of your church but did not deprive you of your faith and the desire to follow Christ and to support true Orthodoxy. I ask you all to continue to remember the golden rule of Christianity—to love your neighbors, even if these neighbors have caused you much sadness,” His Grace said.

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