China: Authorities arrest preacher of heavily-persecuted house church for officiating funeral

Communist authorities arrested a preacher from the heavily-persecuted house church in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, Early Rain Covenant Church, for “allegedly disturbing public order” by officiating a member’s funeral.

Preacher Wu Wuqing was arrested by officers from Damian Police Station in Chengdu city’s Longquanyi District on Friday afternoon, hours after the funeral service, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported, saying it learned about the arrest from ERCC’s prayer request.

Wu, who’s also been persecuted in the past, was released late in the evening.

Authorities have shut down utilities at his home many times, and Chengdu police have threatened that if he continues to serve at ERCC, they will intensify their crackdown and monitoring of his movements, ICC said.

Over two years ago, authorities shuttered the 5,000-member church, broke down the doors of church members’ and leaders’ homes, and arrested more than 100 people. Police continue to harass and track ERCC members today, according to a recent report from the U.S.-based group China Aid.

“House churches across China are seeing an increased harassment from church raid, crackdown on their activities, to the detention of their leaders,” Gina Goh, ICC’s regional manager for Southeast Asia, said. “Beijing seeks to intimidate the leaders in hopes that the churches will dissolve due to fear. Their plot will not succeed, thanks to the resiliency of the Chinese house church. They survived the Cultural Revolution, and they will survive Xi’s era as well.”

In April, authorities harassed and criminalized house church leaders across China, including elder Zhang Chunlei from Guiyang Ren’ai Reformed Church, preacher Zhang Peihong at Shanghai Lancun Zhongyue Church, and preachers Qie Jiafu and Huang Chunzi at Beijing’s Zion Church. All of them fell victim to the latest clampdown.