Legislation governing religious communities in Russia is complex, contradictory, and often inconsistently applied. In one recent case, a church community was barred from using its place of worship, even though it has done so for two decades.

The Verkhnebakansky Baptist Church in Novorossiysk has been worshipping in a two-story building in a residential area for years. There were no problems until the spring of 2018 when a change of government administration brought new attitudes toward religious communities. One church in the city has been demolished and another banned from using its building. The door of the Verkhnebakansky church building was sealed in early July.

Authorities claim that churches are using residential buildings in ways they were not intended, even though a 1997 law permits religious worship on residential premises. The officials also claim that the buildings do not always meet necessary safety and planning regulations. This problem is further compounded as the construction of buildings designated for worship are being denied and the efforts of those affected by this opposition are refused. Despite the attempts of the Baptist church leaders to prove the building meets all regulations, they have only been met with roadblocks.

The church’s leadership has appealed the decision and intend to continue presenting this case to the courts, as far as necessary. According to one of the leaders, Yevgeny Kokora, they are prepared to take this matter to the European Court of Human Rights, if necessary.

Source: Forum 18

  • Pray for wisdom and direction for this church and others that are attempting to navigate through the maze of Russia’s most recently imposed legal regulations.
  • Pray for Christians to be able to freely meet for worship throughout Russia without any governmental hindrance or opposition.
  • Ask the Lord to work in the hearts and minds of the authorities. Pray that many will have the opportunity to hear the Gospel for themselves and find salvation in Christ.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

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Emily C.

Thank you, Father, that you are an unstoppable God and that you are always at work behind the scenes to advance your will, even when you seem silent. Please encourage my Russian brother and sisters and give them wisdom and patience as they wait on you. Lord, would you provide a safe place for them to worship without any government hindrance or opposition and would you work in the hearts and minds of these authorities that they may also hear the gospel and choose to serve you.