A community of baptist believers in Novorossiysk who have met in the same location for over 20 years now find themselves banned from using their building for “religious purposes”.
Forum 18 reports;
“The authorities tried to have the house where the church meets demolished in 2018. When this failed, they began seeking through the courts a ban on use of the building for worship. Bailiffs sealed the door to the prayer hall on 7 July 2019. The ban is a “flagrant violation” of the Religion Law and of the Constitution, Presbyter Yevgeny Kokora commented, as it prevents believers from coming together to profess their faith. Officials in Novorossiysk have failed to respond to Forum 18’s detailed written questions about the enforced closure of the Baptist church”.
This is not an isolated case. A Muslim prayer room, and Seventh-day Adventist church have been demolished, and a Pentecostal church in Samara has been threatened with demolition.
The related issue is that it is very difficult to get permission for purpose-built churches (and mosques). Therefore, believers are forced to gather together in residential or private property, where they can then fall foul of local laws which are not clear, often contradictory and also inconsistently applied.
The believers in Novorossiysk – currently they are having to meet in their front yard or in the street – but this won’t be possible as the weather turns. Pray that the church leadership will be given wisdom as they seek to seek to liaise with the authorities.
A change in the mind of the authorities, or an alternative building in which to meet
A growth in grace and trust for all the believers as they face and endure this hardship and cope with the inevitable uncertainity