(Church in Chains) — Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church (ERCC) in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, has been sentenced to nine years in prison following a secret trial on Dec. 26. The People’s Intermediate Court in Chengdu found the pastor guilty of “inciting subversion of state power” and “illegal business operations.” The pastor has also been sentenced to three years’ deprivation of political rights and a fine of 50,000 yuan (approximately €6,400).
Pastor Wang, 46, has been in detention since he was arrested on December 2018 in a crackdown that saw around 150 members of his large unregistered church taken into custody and held for various periods of time. Most have been released, including Pastor Wang’s wife Jiang Rong, who was freed on bail on June 11 and is under house arrest in a Chengdu apartment with the couple’s twelve-year-old son Shu Ya.
Apart from Pastor Wang, the only ERCC member who remains in prison is elder Qin Defu, who is serving a four-year prison sentence for “illegal business operations.” However, the authorities continue to harass church members and keep them under surveillance.
Many members have lost jobs, been evicted or had their bank accounts frozen and they can only meet in small groups in their homes as the authorities closed the main church premises in December 2018. China Aid reports that recently many members have been ordered to meet with public security officials five times a day.