Date: August 16, 2022
|Elder You Guanhui of Beijing Shouwang Church (Photo: ChinaAid source)|
(Beijing, China – August 16, 2022) Last Thursday, Elder You Guanhui of Beijing Shouwang Church found himself forbidden from leaving his house early in the morning by the local authorities. Furthermore, another member of the church, sister Xiaojuan, was called to the police station at noon to answer questions. She was allowed to return home after questioning. In the morning, two other church members, Huiyou Zhi and Yansong, were taken into the Haidian Branch Law Enforcement Center and were also released that night. The Haidian Ethnic Affairs Office, the Public Security Bureau, and several other departments conducted joint law enforcement in the incident.
Beijing Shouwang Church became the target of government persecution for its refusal to join the Three-Self Church. Since 2004, Shouwang Church has been continuously attacked by the police. Pastors were harassed and believers were taken away. Due to police pressure, the church’s landlord broke their lease, forcing them to move out of their meeting place. After buying property, the real estate purchase was rescinded due to government pressure. Forced out of all meeting places, Pastor Jin Tianming led the congregation to worship outdoors in the snow.
From March 2011 to October 2020, Pastor Jin Tianming was put under house arrest for nine and a half years in his apartment in Beijing. His door was guarded at all times by three shifts of police. The Beijing authorities did not lift his house arrest until October 2020.
Despite Pastor Jin's house arrest being lifted, Elder You Guanhui still lived under surveillance. In 2018, Pastor Jin Tianming stepped down as the senior pastor of Shouwang Church. Zhang Xiaofeng took over as the senior pastor of Shouwang Church. Over the years, the church has insisted on gatherings at the risk of being caught, and many believers have been administratively detained for participating in outdoor worship.
Beijing Shouwang Church was founded by Pastor Jin Tianming and his wife. After graduating from Tsinghua University, Jin Tianming was called to start Shouwang Church in 1993. At first, they met in the homes of church members. But as the church grew, they rented meeting rooms. The number of church members grew rapidly, rising from its initial ten members to 1,000 members before the crackdown in 2011. Most of the members were middle-class or intellectuals, including professors, doctors, lawyers, university students, and even Party members. The church also established dozens of Bible study groups, choirs, Bible schools, and more. It became a representative church among the rapidly developing urban house churches in China. It was also the largest house church in Beijing. Authorities raided and shut down Shouwang Church in 2009 and since then, the congregants started meeting in small groups and worshiping outside in opposition to the authorities.
Ten years later, on March 23, 2019, officials from the Civil Affairs Bureau, Ethnic and Religious Affairs Bureau, and Public Security Bureau of the Haidian District of Beijing released a formal statement to officially ban Beijing Shouwang Church. The church members said that more than 20 police officers came and shut down the church’s main gathering place. Several other meeting places of the church were also shuttered. Members of the congregation were taken away for investigation. All the church possessions were seized.
From the beginning of 2020, Shouwang Church decided to stop outdoor gatherings and conduct online small groups instead due to COVID. According to Beijing Shouwang Church, since April 10, 2011, Beijing Shouwang Church insisted on outdoor worship for more than 11 years.
On Sunday, August 7, 2022, Shouwang Church held its 592nd outdoor worship. Shouwang church members continue to worship everywhere.
~Yu Bing, Special Correspondent of ChinaAid
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