Government suspected of pressuring landlord to refuse to renew lease for Shekou International School's church

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The lease for the meeting site of
the Shekou International School’s
church will not be renewed after
it expires. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid

(Shekou Development Zone, Guangdong—June 4, 2015) A large church in southern China where hundreds of mainland Chinese and foreign Christians have been gathering for weekly worship services is likely to lose its meeting site this month and be forced to disband because the landlord has refused to renew the lease, likely due to government pressure.

The Shekou International School’s church was informed last November that its lease would not be renewed when it runs out in June. The church has so far failed to find an alternate meeting site and church leaders have told members that they might be forced to disband the fellowship-style meetings and meet only in small groups, according to China Aid’s special correspondent in Hong Kong, Qiao Nong.

The church in the Nanshan District of Shenzhen, on the Guangdong province border with Hong Kong draws 600-800 attendees each Sunday, about 30 percent of whom are foreigners, and has a total membership in the thousands. Among them are pastors from the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Singapore, South Korea and other countries.

Church leaders speculate that the landlord has been pressured by authorities not to renew the lease.

Authorities have already imposed special regulations against the church, requiring worshipers to produce a special pass in order to be allowed into the Sunday worship meetings. The passes are issued only to those worshipers who had register their personal details with the government.

“Under political pressure and other pressures, the gate keepers and security guards at Shekou International School have been persecuting the church, requiring the church to issue passes to everyone who comes for worship. Only those who have their passes are allowed to enter the church and participate in the worship service. Those without a pass are not allowed in,” said one church member surnamed Zhang.

Mr. Zhang added, “We study the Bible and we know that [the doors of] churches that believe in Jesus Christ are open to everyone, especially to those who are devout followers of our Lord. Restrictions should not be imposed for any reason to prevent people from coming to church to attend a worship service.”

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