Belarus: Authorities ban Christian church congregation from holding worship services

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by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Authorities have now ordered the congregation at the New Life Church in Minsk, Belarus, to stop even the outdoor parking lot meetings they were reduced to after city officials sealed their church building last year, Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) reports. Ideologically close and loyal to Russia’s President Putin, Belarus’ authoritarian regime has criminalized unregistered Christian activity.

The New Life Church in Minsk has suffered governmental opposition ever since it bought and converted a cow shed into a church building in 2002, VOM reports. After years of court cases, authorities forcibly entered the church in February 2021, and sealed it shut.

Locked out of their church, the New Life congregation continued to meet weekly in the church parking lot, even in the coldest winter months, VOM reports. However, on September 18, authorities confiscated the mobile phone of the church pastor, Vyacheslav Goncharenko, and fined him for holding an “illegal” service in the parking lot.

“Despite appeals from the church leaders, city officials have rejected all attempts to return the church building to the Christians and denied their requests to resume holding the meetings outdoors,” VOM said in its report.

“As the members of the New Life Church must now consider their next steps, pray that they will hear the voice of God clearly so they can wisely follow His leading (Isaiah 30:21), not only regarding their future worship meetings but also in their endeavors to be effective witnesses through this very situation,” VOM added. “May there be a lifting of restraints on evangelical groups in their efforts to spread the Gospel and plant new churches.”

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