The pastor of China’s largest Christian church has been removed from his position in what some are calling a move of retaliation against the pastor’s opposition to the government’s removal of crosses from churches.
Christian Today reports that Pastor Gu Yuese was the pastor of Chongyi Church in Hangzhou which has over 10,000 attendees each week.
China Aid has stated that Gu’s removal is an abuse of religious freedom.
However, two other groups, Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the China Christian Council assert that Gu was dismissed so that China could "move one step closer towards the proper self-establishment and management of church locations by the two Christian organisations in Hangzhou, promote the normal rotation of the principal Christians in charge of churches and sort out the interpersonal relationship between the province and the two municipal [Christian] organisations.”
Gu and his wife Zhou Lian Mei say that, despite the dismissal, they will continue to serve the church in other ways.
“Regardless of how the situation will be after this, we will inevitably continue serving at Chongyi Church if there is no other guidance from the Lord himself! Of course, the manner [of service] may change, but our love of the Lord and his flock will never change, because we are the Lord's servants! Thank God!"
The couple’s statement continues: "Increasingly, we feel God's good intentions in this storm. It will refine every impurity in our ministry team to the greatest extent and compel us to love the Lord and people more purely."
Gu will be replaced by Pastor Zhang Zhongcheng, vice-chairman of the Hangzhou Chinese Christian TSPM Committee.
The Chinese government’s campaign to restrict Christianity has resulted in hundreds of crosses taken down from churches, churches being demolished, and pastors being arrested.
Publication date: January 26, 2016