China Aid Association
(SICHUAN – June 26, 2009) Autumn Rain Church in Chengdu, Sichuan province calls on brothers and sisters around the world for prayer and counsel as the Chinese government employs a new method of crackdown against their church. Their house church was abolished in a public announcement by a department in charge of civil affairs pursuant to the “Management Measures in the Registration of Social Organizations.”
Wang Yi, a prominent law professor and house church leader of Autumn Rain Church who met with President George W. Bush in 2006, recently sent a letter, on behalf of Autumn Rain Church, documenting the persecution against the church requesting prayer. He notes that the persecuting authorities have changed from the police to the Bureau of Religion to the Bureau of Civil Affairs. Regarding the recent persecution, Wang Yi observed, “This shows the government is exhausting all the legal means to test the measures of dealing with house churches ….As far as we know, this is the first case in China that a house church has been abolished in a public announcement by a department in charge of civil affairs pursuant to the “Management Measures in the Registration of Social Organizations.” We still don’t know whether this is a new method of crackdown that other cities will imitate or whether it shows the attitude of the government toward house churches in urban areas is worsening.”
Autumn Rain Church currently has about 100-120 Christians and spiritual seekers who meet in several rented offices at the 6th Floor, 1, West Wenmiao Street, in Chengdu. Beginning around June 4, authorities began to disrupt Autumn Rain Church’s services and government officials from the Joint Defense for Law and Order blocked the church members from entering the house church gathering site for Sunday morning worship services.
Since their gathering site was blocked on the afternoon of June 21, believers met in a nearby hotel for a congregation conference where they rented a conference room. During the conference, more than 10 law enforcement officers entered the site and stopped the gathering. Huang Wei, a law enforcement officer from Qingyang District Bureau of Civil Affairs read the “Decision on Administrative Penalty” issued pursuant to Article 35 of the State Council’s “Management Measures in the Registration of Social Organizations” which abolished Autumn Rain Church as an “unregistered social organization” and confiscates the “illegal properties.” After the notice was read, the church members planned to move to the riverside to complete the conference, but approximately 100 riot police officers, plainclothes officers and law enforcement people were deployed both inside and outside the hotel.
Autumn Rain Church plans to take the following actions with an attitude of submitting themselves to the law: 1) they will persist in holding Sunday worship services; 2) they will submit an application for an administrative reconsideration and an administrative lawsuit against the decision of the administrative penalty 3) they will publicly apply to register the church at Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs 4) they will abide by and quote the clauses related to “freedom of religious belief” in the Constitution and choose the benign violation of the law and reject any decisions of the local government in a non-violent way, and persist in gatherings.
In Autumn Rain Church’s letter, Wang Yi requests, “We hope the house churches in China and the overseas Chinese churches will have this burden to pray for the Lord’s wisdom, abilities, peace and blessings in reply to our requests and to pray sincerely for this incident where a house church has been abolished.”
Call the following government authorities on behalf of Autumn Rain Church and ask that authorities end their harassment of the Christians and the church be allowed to meet freely.
Chengdu National Bureau of Religious Affairs, director Zhao Lu
Office Tel: +86-28-61880989; +86-28-86637474; Fax: +86-28-61880988
Chengdu People’s Government: +86-28-86636113
Chengdu, People’s Chief of Staff: +86-28-86646533
Read the June 22 prayer letter from Autumn Rain Church.