Thursday, January 26, 2012

Shouwang Ranked 6 in Top 10 stories of Christian persecution in 2011 by Compass Direct News

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6 – Shouwang Church Members Arrested Weekly in China

One of the largest unregistered Protestant churches in Beijing was subjected to weekly arrests when it began worshipping outdoors on April 10, after authorities pressured landlords to keep them out of their purchased and rented properties. Leaders of the 1,000-member church said the landlord of their venue had been under mounting pressure from authorities to terminate the lease, and the government also prevented the church from using the premises it had purchased in late 2009. Shouwang had paid 27 million yuan, or about US$4 million, for the second floor of the Daheng Science and Technology Tower in northwest Beijing’s Zhongguancun area. Authorities interfered, and the property developer refused to hand the key over to the church.

The members of the church’s governing committee, two pastors and three elders, and other major co-workers have been under house arrest for the whole or much of the time since April 9. Hundreds of other people, including many Shouwang parishioners and some members of other churches in Beijing and other cities, were detained for between a few hours to two days.

The church was unwilling to be subject to the controls and restrictions of the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), as it disagrees with TSPM beliefs and controls. Many unregistered evangelical Protestant groups refuse to register with TSPM due to theological differences, fear of adverse consequences if they reveal names and addresses of church leaders or members or fear that it will control sermon content.

Shouwang signed a rental contract with a new landlord on Dec. 17, but the landlord terminated the contract due to pressure from “the local police station, the housing management office and leaders of various government agencies,” church leaders announced to members on Dec. 23. Church leaders had arranged to have an indoor meeting on Sunday (Jan. 1) in a room leased from the Beijing Parkview Wuzhou Hotel on Dec. 17, but due to police interference and the cancellation of the lease, they continued meeting outdoors for services – with the arrests also continuing.