EXCERPT: The site of a planned outdoor Easter service at one of China’s largest independent “house” churches was eerily silent Sunday as police blocked more than 500 worshippers from leaving their homes and detained more than 36 for attempting to attend religious services in Beijing, church officials said.
The gathering place for worshippers was empty as church-like bells sounded in northwest Beijing. Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers swarmed the site of Shouwang Church and prevented CNN journalists from accessing the area. Worshippers spent several months preparing for the Easter service, according to members who spoke with CNN. Police on the scene told CNN they were stationed there for “security reasons.”
Shouwang Church’s senior pastor Jin Tianming is currently under house arrest by the authorities.
“More police have come to stand watch in front of my door in anticipation of Easter,” Jin told CNN in a phone interview. “I’ve spoken to several of my fellow worshippers who attempted to attend our planned service this morning,” but some were detained, Jin said.