Jinan‘s 7th Day Adventist Church choir in happier times.
SHANDONG–In February of this year, the Huaiyin District Office for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of Jinan Municipality officially ordered the abolition of the Jinan Seventh-Day Adventist Church, forcing the church’s landlord to terminate the rental agreement on the church’s gathering site. This latest intrusion and government action against the 7th Day Adventist congregation on February 27 forced the 39-year-old church change locations again, a persistent struggle throughout the church’s history. Some members of the congregation refuse to leave continue to gather at the site.
In a letter from the Jinan 7th Day Adventist Church to ChinaAid:
The Shizhong District Branch of Jinan Municipal Public Security Bureau found our landlord and told him to drive us out. The Huaiyin District Office for Ethnic and Religious Affairs has repeatedly exerted pressure on Zhangzhuang Brigade, and the brigade spoke with the landlord on many occasions, demanding that he terminate the rental agreement. We, the several hundred believers, will very soon face the situation of not having a place to gather together for worship. In spite of their advanced age and poor health, the heads of our church have, on many occasions, spoken with the agency in charge of this matter, and each time they were answered with pressure or crackdowns by law enforcement.
The status of the Seventh Day Adventist church in China, and its relationship with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) and the China Christian Council, which together manage the affairs of Chinese Protestants, is an interesting one. As denominationalism, seen as a Western import since the early days is frowned upon, Christians here do (may) not identify themselves as Anglicans, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists and so on, although one church may have a more liturgical style of worship than the other, and Christians can choose if they want to be baptised by immersion or sprinkling.
Nevertheless, Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) congregations (distinguished by their observation of Saturday as the Sabbath and the public day of worship) have been allowed to flourish, and the denomination boasts over 400,000 believers all over China. In many locations, they share premises with TSPM churches and in others, they have begun to build their own church buildings. The May 2009 visit by Adventist world church President Jan Paulsen marked the first visit by a top Adventist leader to China in decades. In his trip, Paulsen visited the Beiguan SDA church in Shenyang with nearly 3,000 members as well as the newly opened Dongting SDA church in Wuxi which seats 1,200.
In Shanghai, Seventh Day Adventists worship at the Moore Memorial Church (沐恩堂) on People’s Square, as well as the Hudong Church (沪东堂) in Yangpu’s Wujiaochang area. The Hudong church, established in 1912, previously functioned as the headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventist movement in China.