The Harvest Church of St. Petersburg, Russia was closed by the Russian government without warning. Government officials reported that the church was conducting unregistered educational activities, namely holding Sunday school classes during the week without explicit permission.
Wade Kusack is the Project Manager for Russian Ministries; his specialty is religious issues in Russia. Krusack explained, “In Russia, the church is supposed to have registration. Without registration, no one has the right to practice their religion. The church was stripped of its legal registration.”
Since the Harvest Church did not acquire the proper documentation necessary to hold the weekday Christian education classes, the church was liquidated without question.
Kusack believes that the Russian government did not have to react so harshly. “They could give a church a warning. Or they could come and investigate what was really happening. But they decided–when they spotted so-called not licensed activity–they immediately closed the church.”
The Russian Supreme Court supported the liquidation of the Harvest Church. Next the case will be presented to the European Court of Human Rights, but Kusack says that success there is unlikely to alter the decision to close the church.
“We should understand and realize that those times of persecution of the church are coming back, and it has become more obvious year by year. We unfortunately can observe more and more persecution of the church in Russia.”