A church on the outskirts of Minsk, Belarus has been evicted after a two-decade struggle.
New Life Church was a cowshed, purchased in 2002.
However, its change of use was approved by all government agencies, apart from officials with the religious affairs department. This department has repeatedly blocked requests made by the church, Voice of the Martyrs reports.
After applying for re-registration in 2005, the church's request was denied. Officials said at the time the reason was that the building remained unapproved.
The city then tried to confiscate the building, which church members resisted.
Court battles began between the 1000-congregant church and government officials.
In 2009, a court decision mandated that the church vacate the premises.
New Life Church says they continued to experience eviction attempts in 2013 and 2017 and finally, the conflict culminated on Feb. 17, 2021.
On that day, 30 bailiffs and other officials cut locks off the building and entered using force. They interrupted a prayer meeting and everyone attending was ordered to leave or risk arrest.
Since then, church members have been allowed to return to retrieve their belongings and equipment.
New Life Church leadership wishes to discuss the use of an alternative building with their city council, but is concerned about finding a location large enough for their congrecation.