Early Rain Covenant Church Pastor and Deacon continue to face significant legal challenges

Thursday, August 15, 2019


Attendees of Early Rain Covenant Church.
(Photo: ChinaAid)

(Chengdu - August 15, 2019) Two leaders of Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) continue to face numerous legal challenges as they grapple with authorities.

According to new information, the defense lawyer for Pastor Wang Yi was barred from meeting with his client several weeks ago.

More recently, officials said Deacon Tan Defu hired two lawyers in his detention center. Lawyers hired by the deacon’s family were told their contracts were terminated.

Tan’s wife later said she would travel to meet with officials to learn more about the newly-hired lawyers and get a better understanding of the case against him. Officials have now added an additional charge of “illegal business operation” to Tan’s case, according to new information.

One ERCC congregant expressed fears the lawyer swap was a sign Tan was tortured.

He does not believe “Brother Tan would fire the lawyers hired by his family and accept lawyers assigned by authorities.”

In the past, Chinese authorities have pressured prisoners to renounce their personally-hired attorneys and accept those provided by the state.

Tan’s wife has also expressed concern about her husband’s mental and physical health.

Another attendee says church members are very worried about Pastor Wang and Deacon Tan. She notes congregants have heard very little updates about Wang’s case and are concerned about Tan’s new lawyers since it is not normal to hire lawyers inside of the detention center. Speculation is authorities are trying to prevent others from knowing the development of Tan's case.

Right now, Wang is accused of “illegal business operation” in conjunction with “inciting subversion of state power.”

According to new information, Wang’s case is being processed by municipal authorities in Chengdu. Officials have reportedly assigned and authorized different lawyers to Wang's case, instead of the legal aid hired by his family.

In response to the news, ERCC congregants released an announcement expressing solidarity with their pastor.

In the announcement, congregants listed the defense lawyers acknowledged by the church and requested that Wang defend himself rather than acknowledge defense efforts made by lawyers who were assigned by authorities.   

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