More than 100 Protestant Christians from the Early Rain Covenant Church – one of China’s few openly operating unofficial house churches – were snatched from their homes and streets across Chengdu, Sichuan province, in a crackdown that began on Sunday night. Among those detained were church pastor Wang Yi, his wife Jiang Rong, church leaders, members and seminary students.
The round-up in Chengdu is part a broader crackdown on unofficial or underground churches that Beijing launched early this year, bolstered by amendments to the Religious Affairs Regulation that gave grass-roots officials more power to act against churches and impose tougher penalties for “unauthorised religious gatherings”. . .
[The jailed pastor of the church] also called on church members to keep worshipping and meet outdoors if venues could not be rented, adding that the group would never give up on practising its faith publicly. . .
[The church] has about 500 followers but its weekly gatherings spread across more than a dozen meeting points around Chengdu, attracting more than 800 church-goers each week, according to church leaders. It also has about 100 seminary students and a primary school catering to about 40 children.
Another major house church, the Living Stone Church in Guiyang, Guizhou province, was also banned three years ago. Li Guozhi, one of the church’s two pastors, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for releasing a document outlining an official plan to destroy the church. (Read more from “Members of Unofficial Chinese Church Vow to Defy Crackdown and Keep Meeting” HERE)