On June 9 our missionaries in Kakhovsky Branch had an unpleasant experience at the South Building during Sunday School when the adult Gospel Doctrine class was interrupted rudely by 12 Provaslanee missionaries (from the Russian Orthodox church) who came barging in, uninvited and unwelcome. The teacher stopped teaching and the 3 women and 9 men circled around the several members and started bombarding them with questions and being very confrontational. Our missionary elders, Elder Starr and Elder Kirkham, both of whom are going home this week, along with Elder Ben Sehnert, asked them to be quiet and listen or to leave. That didn't happen. They said they had been invited to come by God to call the sinners to repentance.
The elders recognized a few of these men from Voronezh, many hour's distance away. The missionaries were harassed there by them for close to a year. Now it appears that they are "making the rounds." It was learned that there is an MTC (so to speak) near the South Building where the Orthodox Church meets and upsetting the members of the Church was on their agenda for the day. Hmmmmm. It was only after over 2 1/2 hours that they finally left. No one was hurt, and the missionaries do get harassed from time to time, but it still made for an uncomfortable situation and is definitely not a good thing for the members of the church to deal with. Because the Church is still so new here in Russia and the Orthodox church was THE church here in Russia for a very long time, it can be disconcerting for members whose faith and knowledge may still be fragile.
Don't get me wrong. Everyone is invited to attend Church, no matter what your beliefs are and members of the Orthodox church are certainly welcome, as are Muslims, Jews, and anyone else of any denomination. However, it is also expected that they will be courteous and polite, as we would be if we were visiting them in their church. These Provaslanee missionaries were definitely out of line.
This behavior here in the Stake was the first of its kind to take place in church. However, there is every reason to believe that it will happen again.