500 Wanbang Church Members Meet Despite Leaders' Detentions

November 23, 2009

SHANGHAI–At 6:00 AM, Sunday, November 22 (Beijing time), house church pastors Cui Longguo, Liu Quanqin, and Huang Yun were summoned to the police station in Minhang District, Shanghai, for interrogation on allegedly “engaging in illegal organization and activities.” The three pastors were detained throughout the morning and into the afternoon to prevent them from leading the worship services at Wanbang Missionary Church, which has been forced to meet outdoors since the eviction from their church home two weeks ago. (Read the press releases from 11/2/2009, and 11/13/2009). The local PSB had summoned two church deacons, Piao Longyi and Shi Weidong, and interrogated them from 10:00 PM on Saturday, Nov. 21 through 12 noon on Sunday, holding them overnight in the police station.

Senior Pastor Cui Quan and the three other pastors were detained for over 8 hours to prevent their attendance. They were released at 2:30 PM on Sunday, Nov. 22. Pastor Liu Quanqin is still in discussion with the PSB station about the injury to his fingers and damage to his personal property, inflicted by the officers.

Despite the detention of their leaders, over 500 dedicated church members assembled outdoors to hold the two scheduled morning worship services. Local authorities reportedly tried to intimidate members and prevent them from attending with threats, but were unsuccessful. Church members refused to stop singing and worshipping. This Sunday’s thwarted attempt to prevent worship was preceded by last weeks video-taped surveillance of the church’s meeting in the park.

Plain Clothes police filmed as Pastor Cui Quan led 700 members in a prayer service on Nov. 15, 2009.

The Shanghai PSB’s attempt to thwart church meetings has so far been unsuccessful. Last Sunday, November 15, Pastor Cui Quan led the nearly 700 church members in an outdoor prayer service, from 10:00 AM to 12 noon. Secret, plain-clothes police filmed the entire service, indicating Shanghai public security’s nerves about the church gathering. Before the service, 10 police officers attempted to deter Pastor Cui from attending church, with one inviting him to “talk,” another four blocking his exit to his home, and finally more officers threatening the taxi driver who took him and his wife to the church gathering. Other members received text messages saying the service had been cancelled, defaming the church, and generally threatening church members. Read Pastor Cui Quan’s full Statement on the meeting, November, 15.

This past Thursday, ChinaAid received written documentation of Wanbang Missionary Church’s formal request for Administrative review on the church ban. In their request to human rights attorney Li Baiguang, they request review, and if rejected, will file a formal suit against the Minhang District, Shanghai PSB. Read the official Application for Administrative Reconsideration, issued November 16, 2009.

As Shanghai authorities grows more anxious and the church refuses to cease gathering, members continue to be detained and interrogated. ChinaAid has responded to Wanbang Church’s call for prayer, and urges the international community to continue protesting the illegal and unjust actions of the Shanghai Public Security office. We pray for the Shanghai People’s Government to countermand the ban on the church, and alleviate Wanbang Church’s unjust persecution.

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