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01/03/2012 China (CDN) – Authorities in China again thwarted efforts by Shouwang Church to lease a worship facility at the year’s end, and the Beijing congregation again met outdoors on Sunday (Jan. 1) – resulting in the arrest of 48 members, sources said.
“The church tried three times to rent three different venues, but it was all to no avail because of the authorities’ intervention,” a source close to the church told Compass. “On Dec. 17, Shouwang signed a rental contract with a landlord for its new indoor worship venue. Two days later, the church’s books and some other belongings were moved into the new rented space.”
In the days that followed, however, the landlord terminated the contract due to pressure from “the local police station, the housing management office and leaders of various government agencies,” church leaders announced to members on Dec. 23.
Church leaders had initially arranged to have an indoor meeting on Sunday (Jan. 1) in a room they had leased from the Beijing Parkview Wuzhou Hotel on Dec. 17, according to a post on Shouwang’s Facebook page. But due to police interference and the cancellation of the lease, they moved to Plan B – a continuation of the outdoor worship services held every Sunday since April 10.
Shouwang began meeting outdoors last year after authorities blocked their attempts to rent worship venues or use a building they had purchased. Church leaders had hoped the situation would change early in the new year.

New Year Arrests
Police detained at least 48 church members who gathered for outdoor worship on Sunday (Jan. 1), releasing 40 of them by midnight, Shouwang’s governing committee stated on its Facebook page.
Early on the morning of Dec. 25, church members had arrived at Zhongguancun square only to find it heavily guarded with industrial-strength rails blocking access, the committee reported. Police arrested 41 Christians who attempted to worship at the square, releasing all but one by midnight. The final detainee was released at 3 p.m. on Dec. 26.

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