Members of the Zhongfu Wumin
Church attend service.
(Photo: China Aid)
By Ava Collins
UPDATED at 9:50 a.m., Sept. 25, 2015: Previous reports incorrectly listed the Zhongfu Wumin church in Guangzhou, Guangdong.
(Dongguan, Guangdong—Sept. 1, 2015) In China’s southern Guangdong province, a team of more than 20 officials interrupted and dispersed a house church service on Aug. 23 and issued an official prohibition against further meetings.
The Zhongfu Wumin Church in Dongguan was in the middle of a Sunday worship service when a mix of firefighters, religious affairs bureau officials and police both in uniform and plainclothes disrupted the gathering. These authorities issued a notice against the church’s “illegal religious activities” and prohibited any further meetings.
Huang Xiaorui, the pastor’s wife, explained the incident to China Aid’s special correspondent Qiao Nong: “Just after nine in the morning, I was playing piano while we worshipped when a group of uniformed officers rushed in and came up to me. They asked who was in charge and who the pastor’s wife was, so I stood up. They took me away first, then gathered other staff and elders in one room. The other officers spread out and questioned church members.”
Huang said that the official documents were brought 15 minutes after the initial interruption ended. According to Li Peng, the church’s pastor, if the church does not stop all “religious activities,” they will have 60 days to reconsider or file an appeal.
The Zhongfu Wumin Church owns the property and building in which they were meeting at the time of the raid. Li said the church had previously had tension with a landlord when trying to rent a building. The church has met at this location for over ten years and often faced pressure from authorities to join the government-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement, but have always refused.
“They say that this is a regulation of Guangdong’s religious department. This ‘regulation’ is unconstitutional,” Li said.