Guizhou officials ban house church's opening ceremony at new worship site

Monday, November 10, 2014

Huoshi Church members worship at their new gathering site
before officials banned all activities. (Photo: China Aid)
China Aid Association

(Guiyang, Guizhou—Nov. 10, 2014) Authorities in inland Guizhou province banned Huoshi Church, which claims to be the largest house church in the province, from holding an opening ceremony for their new worship location on Saturday.

A church employee reported to China Aid that various government departments had been constantly pressuring the church to cancel its opening ceremony, even going so far as to threaten that the ceremony would be forcibly banned and that attendees would be arrested. A notice, below, banning all church activities has also been released.

For the time being, the church’s two pastors have hired lawyers Zhang Kai and Zhang Peihong to represent the church’s interests.

Huoshi Church’s new worship venue is located in Guiyang’s largest building, “Flower Garden,” and was partially completed in August. The church moved into the 5,300-square-foot site in August while decorating was still in progress.

The church employee who alerted China Aid to the situation said that the church has persistently abided in the values of a church house and refused to cancel its ceremony. In the past, the church has given into pressure to suspend other events including a 2013 baptism ceremony and a husband and wife retreat. In spite of the persecution, the house church has continued to grow.

Public Notice from Nanming District Bureau of Religious Affairs Ordering Huoshi Church of Guiyang to Stop Its Illegal Activities

Article 29 of “Regulations on Religious Affairs of Guizhou Province” states: “The group activities of religious citizens should be conducted at sites for religious activities that have been approved and registered or at temporary sites approved by a department in charge of religious affairs under a people’s government above the county level. The activities must be organized by a religious organization or the people at the sites for religious activities and must be presided over by religious clergymen who are certified and whose information is on file at a government facility or by people who are qualified according to religious regulations.”

It is found out that the so-called “Huoshi Church of Guiyang” is a non-religious organization that is not registered. Its chief site for activities, “Gathering Site at Flower Garden,” is not a religious site as they established it without official approval. Li Guozhi, Su Tianfu and others who are in charge of the church are not religious clergymen whose information is on file. Huoshi Church, Li Guozhi, Su Tianfu and others organized an activity called “Gratitude Sunday” at 24th Fl., Building 9, District C of Flower Garden on Nov. 8, 2014. It was an illegal religious activity and should be dealt with pursuant to Article 47 of the “Regulation on Religious Affairs of Guizhou Province” that states: “When people hold religious activities, conduct religious training programs or receive religious donations, the department in charge of religious affairs shall order them to stop the activities. Where there is illegal income, the fund shall be confiscated. Where the circumstance is serious, there shall be a fine that is more than twice but less than three times the amount of the illegal income.

Respecting and protecting citizens’ freedom of religious belief has always been the consistent policy of the Party and the state. Management of religious affairs according to law is the specific embodiment of carrying out the religious policies and protecting the legitimate rights of religious people. Therefore, we hope the great masses will do things according to the requirements of the ruling set forth in the Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. We also hope the people will persist in running religious institutions according to the law, attending religious activities according to the law and regulations, abide by, out of their own will, the relevant laws and regulations, and do not support or attend the illegal religious activities organized by “Huoshi Church of Guiyang,” Li Guozhi, Su Tianfu and others.

Hence this public notice.

Nanming District Bureau for Religious Affairs of Guiyang

November 2014

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