09/09/2021, 17.25
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While Christian school staff and students are arrested in Harbin, Methodist church reopens in Fuzhou

After 24 hours, the authorities released students detained during a raid against the Maizi Christian Music High School. Nothing is known of school principal Xu since he was arrested. Meanwhile, the members of the (Methodist) Mingdao Church in Fuzhou (Fujian) will soon be able to pray again in their place of worship. Since 2019 it is protected as a local heritage site.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – The authorities in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, have arrested all the staff and several students at a local music school, ChinaAid reported.

Last Saturday, more than 30 Communist officials, including special SWAT officers, police agents, and Religious Affairs officials swooped down on the Maizi Christian Music High School. Before this, police took into custody Principal Xu while he was taking his child to school.

During the raid, school assets, including pianos, computers, and documents, were seized. The students were released after 24 hours. Staff were kept for questioning in the following days.

A day before the raid, Principal Xu warned several teachers that the police might raid the school, which trains students to serve in church worship teams.

Xu’s fate remains uncertain. Since students are under 18, local Christians fear that he might be accused of “proselytising” among minors. The school has not yet hired a lawyer in the case.

According to Freedom House, China is home to about 60 to 80 million Protestants and about 12 million Catholics.

The arrests in Harbin come as Christians in Fujian mark the upcoming reopening of the historic Mingdao Church in Fuzhou (picture 2).

Rev Chen Anti, pastor of the (Methodist) Church of Heavenly Peace, told the faithful that they would soon be able to pray again in the sacred place once some required equipment is purchased, China Source reported on Tuesday, citing an article published by the China Christian Daily.

Built by the Church of England in 1870s, the original structure was renovated in 1928. In 1903 it became the home of a school for blind girls.

Seized during the Cultural Revolution, it was returned to the Methodist community in 1999.

In 2018, Fuzhou authorities declared the church a protected heritage site. The latest restoration work began in April 2019 lasting for more than a year.

(Picture 2: China Christian Daily)

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