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March 2023

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Beijing Shouwang Church 2

Less than two months ago, we visited Beijing Shouwang Church (see previous post), a so-called underground church in Beijing. At the time, we commented that the experience was similar to our visits to China’s grand state-owned churches.

Then, we read the news today that dozens (some say more) of worshipers from Shouwang Church have been taken away by police while trying to pray outdoors today in Beijing’s Haidian district.

“The congregants sang hymns and said prayers as police loaded them onto waiting buses in Beijing’s western Haidian district, the US-based Christian rights group China Aid said in a statement on Sunday, citing witnesses.”

Unfortunately, we were not there to witness the event and therefore cannot verify the account. But we can report that the church’s website:, has been taken down. There is only a simple phrase on the website stating “Warm notice: This website is temporarily unavailable. We are sorry for any inconvenience.”

The church’s facebook page (you can search “Beijing Shouwang Church” on facebook to locate its page) has also not been updated since January. A google search turns up some results indicating that last Sunday, April 3, 2011, was the last service Shouwang held at the old venue that we visited. The church also distributed a Questions & Answers sheet (in Chinese) to its congregation about this Sunday’s outdoor service. In this document, the church made it clear that house arrests or police intervention might jeopardize the service today.

The latest situation, according to new reports, is that Shouwang’s pastor and leaders are under house arrests in Beijing. Its congregation, after taken away by police, is being held up in a local school. It is almost impossible for the church and its members to communicate with the outside world about what is happening to them now.

This is the first time that encountered this type of events throughout our investigations of Christianity in China. The Chinese government’s arbitrary or dictatorial nature is apparent if these reports are true. Its tyranny is written in each word in that “Warm Notice” on Shouwang Church’s now blank website, which we browsed only a short time ago. We will keep close watch of the situation.

Latest: according to reports, Shouwang Church’s worshipers have been release. But the pastor is still under house-arrest. (April, 2011)

Update: For the past many weeks, church members tried to gather each Sunday in Beijing at the location below. But as always, police awaited them. The pastor continues to be under house arrest. One piece of good news, however, is that some Chinese Christian leaders have sent a letter to the government, urging a resolution between the government and Shouwang Church. Though we think the government is unlikely to relent.

We testify again – with what we have witnessed and learned – that Shouwang Church is a group of faithful and peace-loving Christians who wanted to stay out of politics. Their only goal is to find a place for their worship, nothing more. (May 27, 2011)

Beijing Shouwang Church

Beijing Shouwang Church is the first so-called underground church we visited. As we said before, it is difficult to know where to find these underground churches. A search online led us to Shouwang Church because it has been the focus of several news reports lately.

Claimed as the largest underground church in Beijing, Shouwang Church was established at the Beijing home of a newly-wed intellectual couple in 1993. As the gathering grew larger, a place of worship became a primary challenge for the church. It rented several spaces including an underground basement over the years to hold its weekly services. But in 2009, government intervention (or rather, embarrassment) led to the early cancellation of Shouwang’s rental contract with an office building. Thus, the congregation became homeless. In November 2009, the congregation had to hold Sunday services outside a park in Western Beijing, twice.

See video below:

News reports of these services put the Chinese government in an embarrassing position. It backed down and offered space in a government building to Shouwang. We are not sure if the place we saw is this government-sponsored venue, but it is a government building without a question.

The entrance is hard to find, but look for the “story club” sign.

Once you go inside, it is confusing as well as there is no signs directing you to the “church.” We walked back and forth several times and finally gathered enough courage to pass this daunting statue to enter the building to the left.

The hall of the CCTV building.

The place is on the first floor, next to the restaurant/bar below.

The restaurant/bar has a history theme with old pictures like this one:

This one:

Or of a more recent and recognizable sort:

The services is conducted in the inner section of this restaurant. There are about 300 people and it seems all seats are taken. The format and organization of the service are similar to the other official churches we visited before. It felt just like any other church if you ignore the restaurant setting of the place. Then of course, we weren’t there when the congregation prayed in the snow or were forced to leave their rented home.

As no cameras are allowed, we didn’t take any pictures. But we managed to film a couple of clips of the services.

Beijing Shouwang Church is in the process of being recognized and sanctioned by the government. If that happens, it will provide a solution and future to China’s massive underground church population. But it will be a very difficult task as the gap between the underground churches and the government is enormous.