European and American Diplomats Visit New Life Church Belarus

General November 6, 2006

On November 2nd New Life church was visited by the European and American diplomatic representatives. Near the church building at Kovaleva 72 one could see diplomatic vehicles of Great Britain, Germany, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, USA, France, Czech Republic and Sweden.

This meeting was initiated by the foreign diplomats themselves. It took place in an informal setting. The pastor of the church Slava Goncharenko led the guests around the church building. He told them how and where the recent hunger strike had taken place and showed them some photos illustrating the church’s history and the protest as well as newspaper clips and Internet media print-outs which covered this event during last three weeks.

After an “excursion” around the building the guests were invited to lunch where they could get to know us closer, ask questions and exchange impressions in an informal setting.

As the embassy representatives noted, they are interested in the events concerning freedom of worship in and particularly the situation of New Life. They all stressed the fact that their visit to the church is an expression of support and solidarity with the Christians of New Life.

Gregory Quinn, the Deputy Head of Mission of her Majesty Queen of , stressed that his country is greatly concerned with the issue of religious freedom and British Christians always support Christians in those countries where freedom of worship is suppressed.

Stephan Eriksson, Head of Office of the Swedish Embassy said in an interview to the church media service: “A hunger strike of 200 believers is undoubtedly an important event. During the last weeks we have been observing the things going on in this church. That’s why we decided to come here and express our solidarity with the believers’ legal demands. Everyone has the right to assemble in the church freely”.

“I am here for the first time. Everybody calls this building a cowshed but it doesn’t look like one. This building is quite suitable for a church” Mr. Ericson added.

As a comment on the results of the meeting, pastor Slava Goncharenko shared his impressions: “It has been a surprise for us. We did not expect so many foreign diplomats to visit our church. It is an important event because not every cowshed and even not every temple is visited by a delegation like this. We were very glad to meet our visitors who came on a mission of solidarity and support. Their questions mainly concerned our opinion on the situation and our prognoses on its future development. I see that God is supporting us in different ways and today’s diplomatic visit has proven it.