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04/16/2020 China (International Christian Concern) – On Easter, the exterior stairs and the fireman’s elevator of a church in Northern Shanxi Province were forcibly taken down by local authorities for “urban renewal.”

According to China Christian Daily, the demolition work already begun on Good Friday as Jincheng Chengqu Church had suspended on-site gatherings since the Coronavirus outbreak late January, according to a local source.

The “extra” space cleared from the church would be used for transformation of the waterway, while the church building would still be retained.

The local authorities had informed the church about the plan earlier, yet never clearly communicated with the church nor reached an agreement. They relaunched their church facilities demolition work on Friday. And despite a member keeping watch of the church’s attempt to stop the work, the demolition continued.

On Easter, a scraper completed the demolition while the pastoral staff stood watching and unable to stop them. Over the weekend, calls were made to the mayor to complain but went unanswered.

Jincheng Chengqu Church is part of the state-sanctioned Three-Self Patriotic Movement church. It often hosts ordination of pastors or major Christian celebrations instituted by the government. In 2010, the church was dedicated with a seating capacity of more than 1,000. It was originally founded in 1887 by Stanley Smith, a British missionary from the Cambridge Seven.

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