Henan church facing demolition after refusing to turn over financial information

Thursday, December 18, 2014

China Aid Association

By Rachel Ritchie

(Nanyang, Henan—Dec. 18, 2014) Anzhuang Church in China’s central Henan province is facing demolition by authorities working under the directive of the provincial government after church leaders refused to turn over financial information and register the church with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement.

The Fangcheng Country Religious Affairs Bureau of Nanyang, Henan, sent agents to the church on Dec. 4 to tear down the wall surrounding the church, claiming that the provincial government had ordered the demolition. However, the officers were only successful in tearing down one wall of the enclosure due to resistance from church members who are guarding the church.

On Dec. 5, the Yangji Township Government, which presides over the church’s home, Anzhuang Village, sent more than 20 employees to the church. The government workers were once again forced to withdraw.

“The township government said our newly built church is illegal because it occupies some farmland,” a church member said. “Now, the two sides are at a stalemate.”

“From last year to this year, we built a church building, and it cost us 2 million Yuan (US $322,000),” another worshipper said. “The land on which it was built was bought by the church from a local family. There were no problems while building the church, and leaders at the superior level approved it. However, as soon as the church building was complete, the Yangji Township Government sent over people who wanted to demolish the church by force. Now the wall on the west side has been destroyed.

“There are many brothers and sisters in Christ inside the church. They are all elderly people who live in the church and guard it. They don’t want the authorities to demolish the church,” the worshipper said.

Another believer said that the elderly church members had began staying in the church after the outer wall was demolished because they fear the government will come demolish the church at night. The group was stayed at the church around-the-clock for at least three days. Each day, government officials visited the church, asking the Christians to leave the church.

China Aid attempted to contact the Fancheng County Religious Affairs Bureau and the Yangji Township Government, but neither office returned our calls. China Aid’s Hong Kong-based reporter was able to contact the Fangcheng County Government but was told the agency was “not clear” about information pertaining to the demolition.

Authorities from a local domestic security protection squad and public security bureau approached Pastor Zhu, who leads the church, on Oct. 28, demanding that he turn over information about the church’s purpose, source of income, and information about its congregation. Officers also told Pastor Zhu that the church should either register with the TSPM or disband and attend government-sanctioned churches.

At this time, Pastor Zhu has been hospitalized to receive treatment of heart disease and other ailments, according to his daughter.

Anzhuang Church was formed by the union of several small house churches that previously gathered in local residences.

China Aid Contacts
Rachel Ritchie, English Media Contact
Tel: 1+ (888) 889-7757 | Other: (432) 689-6985
Email: r.ritchie@chinaaid.org
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