Russian church settles debt with prayers

An Orthodox cross Image copyright EPA
Image caption The claimants came up with the prayer settlement idea, according to the church

A Russian Orthodox Church diocese has settled a debt dispute by promising to pray for the health of the claimants, it's reported.

The local diocese in the city of Nizhny Novgorod ran up a 916,000 rouble ($11,500; £8,000) debt with construction company Era, which designed a heating system for one of its buildings, the Znak news website reports. But when the church only coughed up half the cash for the work, the company took legal action.

Luckily for the church, the company's owners are believers, and the two parties agreed on a pre-trial settlement which saw more than 300,000 roubles of debt and fines written off in exchange for prayers. It's the first time such a settlement has been made, according to the St Petersburg legal portal.

The diocese's legal department tells Gazeta.ru that the novel idea came from the claimants. "We ourselves were surprised... They even drew up the wording themselves," a church representative said.

Era's sales manager, Andrei Lepustin, says the company's owners do not plan to check how the prayer agreement is implemented. "We all respect the diocese and we are all Orthodox believers," he tells the site. "It'll be on their conscience if they don't, but we trust them and have already felt the fruits of their prayers, as prosperity indicators for both the company and its employees are growing."

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