1,500-Member Chinese House Church Asked to Halt Services

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1,500-Member Chinese House Church Asked to Halt Services


Authorities in China's southwestern province of Sichuan have asked a large family-based house church to halt its activities, Radio Free Asia reports. "The authorities have asked us to end our family church congregations, calling our gatherings 'illegal,'" said Pastor Li, leader of the 1,500-member church based in the Qili township of Sichuan's Langzhong city. "They ... still haven't taken direct action against us, but this has worried churchgoers." Chinese authorities have recently engaged in a three-phase campaign to eradicate Protestant house churches, as detailed in a government document released late last year. In the first phase, from January through June of 2012, local authorities were ordered to conduct investigations of all house churches and create dossiers on each of them. In phase two, for the following two to three years, authorities are ordered to strongly encourage unregistered churches to affiliate with government-approved churches; then, in phase three, to be completed within 10 years, churches refusing to comply will be shut down. Officials also plan to ban the words "house church" and replace the term with "house gatherings" -- a term that would refer to groups meeting in government-approved sites.

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