Nearly 1,000 believers braved the freezing morning chill to sing hymns and fellowship at the East Gate of Beijing Haidian Park.
China Aid Association November 2, 2009
BEIJING–This frozen snowy Sunday morning, members of Shouwang Church huddled together outside the East Gate of Beijing Haidian Park for yet another outdoor worship service. Under pressure from the Beijing authorities, Huajie Plaza managers refused to renew the Shouwang Church’s rental contract on October 29, forcing them to meet outdoors. Knowing the Huajie Plaza managers situation, Shouwang Church leaders willingly signed the termination of the rental contract on October 30, notifying their congregation of the change later that day. View the Message from Shouwang Church to their Members (translated Nov. 2)
Between close to 500 believers attended Sunday’s worship service, singing hymns and offering prayers under a sea of umbrellas. Before the service started at 9 AM, a Beijing policeman showed up and posted a poster at the gate of the park stating “Today the Haidian Park is closed to the public “. In spite of being denied entry to the park, the church members rallied at the East Gate, with the service lasting more than two hours until a little after 11:00 AM.
Since the beginning of August, Beijing Huajie Plaza has received enormous pressure from both the Public Security Bureau and Religious Affairs Bureau of Beijing City, to terminate the rental contract with Shouwang House Church. ChinaAid and Beijing house church Christians learned a secret directive had been issued by the CPC that month, calling for the dismantling of six house churches in Beijing–one of them Shouwang Church. On August 19, Pastor Jin Tianming, along with three other leaders of the church, went to PSB and RAB to make inquiries about the contract, with no response. On August 20th and 26th, the church held a special prayer service for a new worship location. During the outdoor Sunday service on August 23rd, Pastor Jin reiterated that the church would have no choice but to worship outdoors, if no other location for worship could be availed. After Huajie Plaza declined to renew their contract and several other attempts at finding a meeting place failed, church notified believers on October 30 they would be worshipping outdoors on November 1st.
Congress Wolf and Smith, co-chair and executive member respectively of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, attended a Shouwang Church service last year when they visited Beijing before the Olympics. It has long been a respected church in the community. This continued repression, and forced relocation of the church meeting place is a part of the major crackdown against the Chinese House Church enacted by the Chinese government, which has caused the detention of over 30 Christian house church leaders in the past 3 months, and resulted in termendous devastation, as in the case of the demolished Linfen-Fushan Church in Shanxi.
11/3/2009: Watch the video Shouwang Church posted on their church website.
ChinaAid urges the international community to pray for the members of Shouwang Church and for the softening of authorities’ hearts to allow them to worship freely indoors, especially with the freezing winter approaching. ChinaAid denounces the unnecessary and unjust intervention of the PSB and RAB in business affairs, and calls for equality for Shouwang Church under the law.