September 9, 2010
ANHUI–On August 24, the Fanchang County Bureaus of Planning, Urban Management, Administration and Law Enforcement issued a “Notice of Demolition of an Illegal Structure Within a Time Limit” to Chengguan Church in Fanchang County. The employee who delivered the demolition notice intimidated the church members, saying menacingly, “Because it is a church building, we are all the more determined to tear it down. If it was a residential building, we might give it a break and might not do it in such a hurry; we could also negotiate on that matter!” The church members were deeply offended by the harsh words, which revealed the more sinister intention of the planned demolition.
The church congregation has expressed their bewilderment and disagreement with the decision. On August 27 and August 28, they sent letters to the County Bureau of Planning and the head of the county, imploring them to handle this issue in a more cautious and just manner.
Chengguan Church, formerly known as Railroad Church, was built in 1990. When it was first built, the house church site was situated on west side of the railroad square. As the church grew, the residents nearby began complaining that the church’s activities were disturbing their rest and their children’s studies. The church temporarily rented a small bungalow behind the wall of the County Water Works with the help of government agencies. However, the environment around the bungalow was not ideal; the narrow corridors and the aging wiring system posed many safety hazards on the site.
Following a fire in a nearby residence (Military Unit No. 331), the fire department urged residents to pay attention to fire safety. The church consulted with one other before buying the piece of land to build their own church. In 2006, they bought four bungalows on the west bank of Chengxi River, inside the border of Chengxi Village in Fanyang Town, Fanchang County. After several re-modelings, the current church was built. Currently, over 300 members attend the religious activities on a regular basis in this church building.
ChinaAid is committed to following Chengguan Church’s case and assisting the church as needed. We pray the church remains strong as they defend their basic rights and appeal the demolition. We pray that the church finds an alternate meeting site where they can worship without further harassment.