Luka-Meleshkovskaya, Ukraine, March 18, 2019
The clergy and faithful of the Holy Transfiguration Church in the Vinnitsa village of Luka-Meleshkovskaya, having been locked in the church by impious nationalist-schismatics, were forced to knock down the door of their church to defend their bishop who was being physically assaulted in the church yard.
The Divine Liturgy was to begin at 8:30 on Saturday morning, but schismatic-nationalists filled the locks off the doors with resin the night before to prevent the faithful from entering the church. Nevertheless, the parishioners cut the locks to the doors and guarded the church overnight. In the morning they were locked inside.
Local media spread false reports that random bullies had gone to the church and broken the windows and doors, but in fact the local faithful, who had been guarding their church from seizure overnight, were attempting to get out, reports the press service of the Vinnitsa Diocese of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
“All the Vinnitsa media are writing about how they broke the doors and windows in Luka-Meleshkovskaya. But everything began with them locking up Fr. Basil, the rector of the church, and using physical force against me, the ruling hierarch,” His Grace Bishop Barsanuphius of Vinnitsa and Bar wrote on his Facebook page.
The bishop said that he went to meet with the “activists” to hear them out, but they weren’t interested in listening to him as well.
“When Chirkun, a priest of Vladyka Simeon [the former canonical hierarch of Vinntisa—O.C.] arrived, he gave the command to throw me over the fence of the church. That’s how they propose to peacefully resolve controversial issues,” Bp. Barsanuphius wrote.
When they began to use physical force against the bishop and to force him up against the fence, Fr. Vasily and the parishioners saw it from within the church and decided to force the emergency doors open, causing them damage, to get to Bp. Barsanuphius to protect him.
The main moments of the confrontation were captured on video. The faithful were eventually able to enter the church again, with Bp. Barsanuphius celebrating the Divine Liturgy.
The Holy Transfiguration parish voted in favor of remaining in the canonical Ukrainian Church under His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine on January 26, though the territorial community met the same day in the local country club, voting to transfer to the schismatic church. The religious community then regathered in the church and recognized the country club vote as invalid.