Construction of a church in Kamenyuki, 1998-2009

The new Church of Saint George in Belovezhskaya Pushcha

Events, facts, documents and evidence: The village of Kamenyuki, the administrative center of the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park, had no church. There were churches in the neighboring villages of Dmitorivichi, Pashuki and Belaya. The church in Belaya was burned down by Nazi troops during WWII.

In the late 1990’s, the national park’s managers at the time decided to build a church in Kamenyuki. Someone in Germany offered to pay the expenses in compensation for the burning down of the church in Belaya. A design was drawn, a model was made and a site was selected in the middle of the village, next to a store and a school. In the old times, the duty of choosing the place for a church was entrusted to people with special abilities who could use a dowsing rod or other methods to locate so-called "places of power" where Earth’s bioenergy was at its highest. In our case, this was done without even exiting the architect’s office…

A pit for the future church building was dug in 1998, after which the local inhabitants were assembled on the site to witness its consecration. Ivan Titenkov, the then-director of the Presidential Property Management Department, publicly swore that the church would be built within a year. Vasily Zhukov, the manager of the national park at the time, was supportive of the idea. The construction began…

Alas, those plans were not to reach fruition. The park manager was soon to be promoted to Minsk, and the property management director, dismissed. The framework of the new church was taking shape when it was suddenly announced that the owners of the project had run out of money (!?) and it was put in mothballs. Occasional work was done on the building as minor amount of money came in.

It took the builders six years to get as far as the dome.
The photographs below show the completed framework and a dome that had been transported to the site.

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(The church is under construction; July 18, 2004)
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(The dome next to the church; 1 - July 10, 2004, 2 - July 18, 2004 )

For more than six months the dome remained placed near the church.

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(The dome next to the church; 1 - October 15, 2004, 2 - December 5, 2004)

It was not until the beginning of February 2005 that a tower crane appeared on the site, among other preparations for lifting of the dome.

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(The tower crane next to the church, February 3, 2005)

The dome lifting ceremony was to have been a festive event, with cameramen and reporters from oblast media invited to cover it.
The shots below show Archpriest Ioann, the senior priest of the future church, Consecrating the dome. Brest journalists Svetlana Vechorko and Roman Kobyak are seen here conducting interviews.

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(The oblast media, February 3, 2005)

However, the festivities just did not work out. Some equipment on the tower crane broke down, and the lifting ceremony had to be postponed.
Below: the church, still dome-less.

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(The dome-less church, February 5, 2005)

It was not until a week later, when the tower crane had been fixed, that the dome was lifted and installed on its due place, without any festivities whatsoever. For details please refer to the update titled, Church in Belovezhskaya Pushcha with a cupola already which can be found on this page for details news/0205.html).

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(The church with dome on top, February 13, 2005)

However, the church would remain covered with scaffolding for a long time, as the funds necessary for further construction were in short supply.

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(The church, encased in scaffolding, October 16, 2005)

Most of the exterior work was completed as late as the beginning of 2007, and builders started finishing the interiors of the church. The culture venue in Kamenyuki had been demolished by that time.
Below: the church shown here against the backdrop of the crumbled culture venue, and later, the vacant plot of land after the remains had been cleared.

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(1 - June 9, 2007, 2 - August 21, 2007, 3 - September 13, 2007)

These shots of the unfinished church were made in sunny weather, in maximum light.

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(March 3, 2008)
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(1 - March 3, 2008, 2 and 3 - June 16, 2008)

The completion of the church building was speeded up in 2009 as the 600th anniversary of Belovezhskaya Pushcha’s reserve status approached. It was decided that the church’s opening was timed to coincide with the official festivities in the national park, scheduled for October 3.
Below: interior work nearing completion.

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(September 6, 2009)

A grading machine is shown here leveling the ground around the church.

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(September 17, 2009)

This is how the churched and surrounding area looked after the grading operations.

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(September 20, 2009)

September 20, 2009. Carpenters at work: there is a whole lot of work still to be done and only a week’s time left before the opening of the church.

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(September 20, 2009)

The church interior: still bare walls…

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(September 20, 2009)

September 29, 2009. Two days are left before the church opening. Locals are helping grade earth that was brought to the site.

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(September 29, 2009)

Two days are left before the church opening. Carpenters are working on the exterior.

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(September 29, 2009)

September 30, 2009. One day is left before the church opening. Local old women are helping with the painting and other work.

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(September 30, 2009)

The interior of the church is shown here one day before it was to open officially. Meanwhile, the first evening service is to take place at 5 PM today...

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(September 30, 2009)

September 30, 2009, 5 PM. The carpenters are still doing their work at the announced time, while the locals have come to attend their first evening service in their home village…

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(September 30, 2009)

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Translated by Alexander Sukhoverkhov