Staunton, February 15 – Moves by the Russian occupation forces in Crimea to close down or transfer to the control of the Moscow Patriarchate of Ukrainian Orthodox Churches have attracted considerable attention and even provoked suggestions that Kyiv should respond by doing something similar to Moscow-controlled Orthodox churches in Ukraine.
That makes the case of the only UOC church in existence in the Russian Federation especially intriguing and even instructive. That church, located in Noginsk, a city of 100,000 some 34 kilometers east of the Moscow ring road, has had a complicated history (24tv.ua/ru/ukrainskij_hram_v_podmoskovnom_noginske_istorija_very_i_soprotivlenija_rossijskoj_vlasti_n1112724).
In 1993, Ukraine’s TV24 reports, Father Andrian was affiliated with the ROC MP. When his religious superiors wanted to push him out, he, who was born in Ukraine, and they decided to transfer their subordination to the Kyiv Patriarchate. Russian officials were not pleased, and they sent OMON officers to throw the church and its contents into the street.
But Father Andrian and a small group of followers found a place to continue to hold services in Noginsk, an arrangement that he and they assumed was sufficiently low profile to allow them to practice their religion in peace. Until 2016, it was; but then a district court ordered that their church be torn down so as “not to disturb the local population.”
“Every day we have waited for the arrival” of machines which will destroy “our church,” Andrian says. But so far, nothing has happened. In his view, “our church is not touched for the simple reason that in Ukraine, Russia has 12,0000 churches, cathedrals, monasteries and lavras … Therefore, they don’t touch some church in Noginsk in order not to lose a lot in Ukraine.”
“If it weren’t for the references to Patriarch Epifanii in the services” of the Noginsk church, the Ukrainian television channel reports, “even parishioners would not know that here [in the middle of Russia] is an Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
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