Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko paid a visit to a new church in honor of John the Baptist on 3 October.
The church is located in the agro-town of Shershuny. The temple is made in the Byzantine style, featuring two domes. The church can accommodate about 150 parishioners. The parish complex includes a temple, the clergy’s house, a playground and a place for parishioners to have a rest. The construction of the church began in mid-2018 and was completed in the second half of 2020.
The ceremony of consecration of the new church was held in the morning before the arrival of the President. He lit a candle in the temple and addressed the parishioners.
The head of state noted that local residents had always dreamed of having a temple of their own. Patron of arts Mikhail Gutseriev helped this dream come true: “I would like to thank you, Mikhail Safarbekovich, not only for this temple, but also for a school, production facilities that you have built in our country, and continue your work here.”
“I would like it to be not just a holy place but also a revered place for you, so that you could regularly visit it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told the parishioners.
He said that he personally approved the project of the new temple. “We wanted this temple and a house for the person who will live and work here, to be built here, on a hill. For the last quarter of the century more than 1,500 temples have been built in the country. We will be gone, and our children will remember that we did such good deeds in the name of our children and our grandchildren,” the President said.
“I am absolutely convinced that our land will always be under the protection of God thanks to this ascetic activity. In particular, this most beautiful land you live on. I was once again convinced how beautiful not only the nature but our land is. We must preserve this land (you probably understand me even better now). I hope very much that He [Lord ] hears us today and will be a good helper to us in these good deeds,” the Belarusian leader said.
The head of state wished the parishioners long life and noted that he really wants rural areas in Belarus to flourish. “We have done a lot, but we are only at the beginning. Perhaps, especially recently, you have understood what it means to live on your land and what it means to have your own. I have to tell you: if it wasn't for you, rural people, it would be even more difficult for us. You are the foundation, the pillar of stability of our state. I am immensely grateful to you for that. If a new generation wants to try a new life, let them do that. You and I should live this life in peace and tranquility, especially our old people. They have had enough, especially after the war,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko presented an icon to the church. Another one, presented to the head of state by Veniamin, Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, he gave the new temple, too. “Let it be another icon here from me and from you. We will keep it here, in this temple. This will be the right thing to do. I can place it in the Palace of Independence, but I have many icons there,” the head of state said.
Metropolitan Veniamin noted that many temples had been restored and built on the Belarusian land, and the head of state should be credited with the development of the spiritual component in the country. “Much has been done, but even more is to be done. We have a great opportunity here in this holy temple to strengthen prayer for our native Belarus, for our people, for our future,” he said.
Mikhail Gutseriev said how the decision to build a new temple in this very place was made. The church, which was located nearby, was destroyed in previous years. “We were traveling past this place and the head of state said that it would be good to build a church here (there are several settlements and no church). Why in this place? There is a school nearby, and children will be able to go to church every morning. The bell ringing is always impressive, very beautiful. There is also a grave of tankers some 50-70m away from here. The grave of four soldiers who died in the summer of 1944 during the liberation of Belarus. That is why the place is very important,” he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked to the parishioners, both adults and children, and posed for several memorable photos with them.