Shouwang Church Awaits Breakthrough Discussions with Authorities

Translated by China Aid Association
Li Tiduo//Reporter, The Gospel Herald
June 9, 2011 12: 48 (PST)
Rev. Liu Tongsu, senior pastor at Mountain View Chinese Christian Church in the (San Francisco) Bay Area of northern California and a scholar and legal expert who has studied China’s house churches extensively, returned last week from Beijing where he visited Shouwang Church, which continues to hold outdoor worship services.
Rev. Liu Tongsu told this newspaper about his visit to the home in Beijing of Pastor Zhang Xiaofeng, to whom he expressed his support. The other four pastors and elders of Shouwang Church’s Governing Committee have been (confined) at home since the end of April and remain under tight surveillance. At the invitation of Shouwang Church, he shared his news twice at weekday evening prayer meetings, giving comfort and advice to the brothers and sisters there. These prayer meetings were held at a venue provided by Pastor Wang Shuangyan’s New Tree Church. According to Rev. Liu, at least 70 people were at the first evening prayer meeting and more than 100 brothers and sisters attended the second prayer meeting.

As for a resolution to Shouwang Church being forced to continue to worship outdoors, Rev. Liu disclosed that Christian scholars in Beijing have recently drafted some solutions. Last week, the demands of Shouwang Church and its members with regard to a meeting site were conveyed to top leaders in the central government via several different (Communist) Party and government departments. Rev. Liu hopes that in the near the relevant departments will conduct breakthrough discussions with Shouwang Church to resolve the believers’ plight of having no place to meet.
Shouwang Church’s bulletin last Wednesday, June 1, announced that the church had approved the departure of Pastor Song Jun, an evangelist and two deacons. Pastor Jin Tianming of Shouwang Church sent a letter to all church members in which he said: “The departure of several co-workers from Shouwang is like a huge earthquake shaking the entire church and striking the very soul of each Shouwang brother and sister.”
The Voice of America recently interviewed Pastor Jin Tianming about this incident. Pastor Jin was not willing to say much or to do a recorded interview, saying only “We feel sad that these co-workers have left us, but this will not cause any disunity in the church.” He later added: “At least at this time it won’t (cause any disunity in the church).”
Rev. Liu clarified some misleading points in some reports and rumors. He pointed out that some reports have said, “The four co-workers who left were the high-ranking leaders in the church,” which is not true.
He said: “Pastor Song Jun’s main job at Shouwang Church was overseeing the establishment of a seminary. The real policy-setter was the Shouwang Church Governing Committee, and the members of the Shouwang Church Governing Committee are two pastors and three elders.”
Rev. Liu emphasized, “These five leaders share the same vision for Shouwang.”
This newspaper also tried to contact Pastor Song Jun who has left Shouwang Church. Pastor Song replied saying that for the time being, he would not make any public response to some sharp comments.  He said: “I also know there are some sharp views and I am not prepared to respond to them.”
Since Sunday April 10, Beijing Shouwang Church has unfailingly held its weekly outdoor worship service at a square in Zhongguancun. Each time, the local police have shown up and interfered with their activities. Last Sunday June 5, about 20 brothers and sisters were taken to the local police station for questioning; all were released within 48 hours. In addition, more brothers and sisters were restricted to their homes beginning on Wednesday and a few were taken to a nearby hotel. Still others were required to report to the local police stations or neighborhood committees during the day.
In response to various outside opinions, Shouwang Church has again and again reiterated that its outdoor worship is “only because on Sundays (we) want to worship together – this is a religious reason and has nothing whatsoever to do with any political activities or anyone’s activities in rights defense.” The church says it firmly believes that God has led the church in the past few years with the vision of being “a city on a hill” and they desire to uphold the vision God has given the church and continue to develop toward an open and full-fledged church.
The original Chinese-language report is here:

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