Forum 18, 3 October 2022 (excerpts)
On 25 September, Police banned Minsk’s New Life Church in Belarus from meeting for Sunday worship in the car park of the building from which officials forcibly evicted it in February 2021. Police detained the pastor Goncharenko and another pastor Bokun. A judge fined each 2 months’ average wage for leading the 18 September service.
Officials have forced Minsk’s New Life Pentecostal Church to halt the worship meetings it has held in the church car park every Sunday, whatever the weather, since evicted from its church building. Police banned the 25 September service, threatening to detain anyone who did not leave.
Police held Pastor Bokun overnight after detaining him on 22 September. Police seized the mobile phones from both pastors, telling them they would get them back only when the fines have been paid.
Asked what was wrong in holding an hour-long worship meeting outside the building, and about the fines she had imposed on the two pastors, Judge Yuliya Bliznyuk absolutely refused to respond. “I do not give comments on the phone,” she told Forum 18 before hanging up.
Artyom Tsuran, a Deputy Chair of Minsk City Executive Committee, has rejected all New Life Church’s attempts to seek permission to hold meetings either in the car park or to have their church building returned to them.
Pastor Goncharenko insists that the Church needs and ought to be able to hold face to face worship meetings. “As the Bible says: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them'”.