Activists reported the UOC-MP's plan to seize the restored historical church in Chernihiv region with the help of 'titushkas'
The conflict around the temple is reported by the interlocutors of 'Novynarnia' media outlet from among the local activists.
The wooden church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Bilovezha was built in 1855 by Alexander Kochubey, a descendant of the General Judge of the Zaporizhzhia Army, Vasyl Kochubey. In the 1950s, the church was closed by the Soviet occupiers, it was destroyed and overgrown with bushes.
In the spring of 2020, the patron decided to restore the church and transfer it to the local community. Residents of the village appealed to the priest of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from Bakhmach, Fr Volodymyr Pavlyna, to help register the community and consecrate the church.
The community is already completing the registration of parish documents in the Department of Culture and Tourism, Nationalities and Religions of Chernihiv Regional State Administration.
"But the priests of the MP decided to outwit everyone – to quietly seize the church, consecrate it and start holding services there. The capture was scheduled for Saturday, September 26," the newspaper reports, citing its sources.
This is opposed by the local community and the village authorities. "I think there should be a Ukrainian Church in Ukraine. And in Moscow, let it be that of Moscow," said Oleksandr Shuba, Chairman of the Bilovezha Village Council.
But on September 24, the restorers closed the church and refused to let in a Ukrainian priest, Archpriest Volodymyr Pavlyna, who planned to consecrate the restored building for the OCU.
"The contractor of the developer's work won't open the temple to people. People are outraged, they have a logical question – for whom this temple is being restored," says Fr Volodymyr.
In this regard, the Village Council called the police to draw up a statement on preventing people from entering the Church, which is located on the community's land.
When the police left and the community dispersed, Viktor Vorobey, the Dean of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Bakhmach district, came to the Church – he defiantly entered the church, despite the newly painted floor, he behaved extremely brazenly and defiantly, and showed with all his appearance who would be the boss there."
Rostislav Martynyuk, a public activist and parishioner of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Chernihiv region, told Novynarnya that the seizure of the church with its subsequent consecration by Moscow priests might take place on Saturday or Sunday, depending on the actions of the Ukrainian community, which is rallying and planning to resist.
It is expected that the campaign will be headed by Metropolitan Klyment (Vecherya) of Nizhyn and Pryluky, who is also the Chairman of the Synodal Information Department of the ROC in Ukraine, a member of the Inter-Council "presence" of the ROC, responsible for information policy of the MP in Ukraine and has several decorations awarded immediately by the Patriarch of Moscow.
In addition, according to Martynyuk, the intention to support the pro-Moscow priesthood was announced by the member of the Chernihiv Regional Council, an entrepreneur from the neighboring village Pisky, Valery Kolosha, who was elected from the Agrarian party, and is now running for the Regional Council in the top five of the Nash Krai (Our Land) Party. The head of the "Bakhmach District Union of Veterans of Afghanistan (international soldiers) and soldiers of the ATO and OOS", Kolosha is expected to bring a group of "Afghan soldiers to Bilovezha. Also, the likely participation in the capture of the temple of several dozen "titushki" who took part in a similar action in support of the UOC-MP in the village of Kruty was also reported.
Rostislav Martynyuk has noted that the local SBU and the National Police were warned about the intentions of the Moscow Patriarchate concerning Bilovezha, and the Ukrainian activists of the Hetman region will also resist the invaders.