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Published On: Thu, Oct 2nd, 2014

Ukraine: Pastor Sergei Litovchenko abducted during church’s communion service

A Seventh-day Adventist pastor is missing in the Ukraine after a separatist group stormed a church in the city of Horlivka and abducted the man in the middle of a last Sabbath communion service.

The Ukrainian Union Conference detailed the seizing of Pastor Sergei Litovchenko.

Pastor Sergei Litovchenko

Pastor Sergei Litovchenko

“They interrupted the worship service and forced the worshipers to disperse,” it said in a statement. “They ordered Pastor Sergei Litovchenko to close the church, forced him into a car, and drove away in an unknown direction.”

The incident occurred as the pastor was leading the congregation in a communion service in the small, rectangular church. Adventist churches around the world commemorated Jesus’ Last Supper on September 27 as is customary on the last Sabbath of each quarter, the Adventist reported.

The Horlivka gunmen justified their actions by saying that “this is Orthodox land and there is no place for various sects here,” the conference statement said.

They refused to say who they were and what right that had to disrupt the church’s activities, replying bluntly to church members’ questions, “It’s none of your business.”

The Ukrainian Union Conference was trying to establish the whereabouts of the pastor.

“Where he is and what has happened to him is unknown,” said Vassily Nichik, director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department of the West Russian Union Conference, which borders eastern Ukraine.

“Please pray for him,” he said on his Facebook page.

Clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian government forces have killed more than 3,500 people since April. Separatists, who support the Orthodox faith and have spoken critically of Protestantism as a sect, have detained several church members in the past but always released them quickly.

No Seventh-day Adventists have been injured or killed in eastern Ukraine, where the conflict de-escalated into an uneasy ceasefire on September 5. Only one church building has suffered major damage.

John Graz, director of the Adventist world church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, expressed deep concern over the kidnapping and said he was puzzled over why anyone would target the pastor.

“Our church is officially recognized in Russia and Ukraine, and we expect our members and pastors to be respected by the authorities on the territory of eastern Ukraine,” Graz said Monday. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not involved in politics, and we don’t understand why it should be attacked.”

 

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  1. Ukraine: Christians threatened with firing squads, Red Cross worker killed - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] Day Adventist minister Sergei Litovchenko was abducted by pro-Russian gunmen during a church service in Horlivka, in the Donetsk region. This is just one of many reports of […]

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