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Religion

Hong Kong Christians don all black in show of support for mainland Chinese believers facing crackdown ahead of Christmas

  • Display of solidarity is response to online petition by five progressive Christian groups amid crackdown on Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan province and other underground churches
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 5:50pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2018, 9:27pm

Hong Kong church-goers turned out for prayers dressed all in black on Sunday as an expression of solidarity with Christians facing persecution in mainland China.

A third of the 500-strong congregation at two services in Tai Po were clad in the colour after an online petition by five progressive Christian groups urged worshippers to do so on Sunday and December 30.

Eight told the Post their clothes were worn on purpose.

Other churches were expected to follow suit after organisers said the petition reached 47,000 internet users via Facebook, but the city’s bigger churches did not join the campaign.

The gesture follows a crackdown by mainland authorities on at least two prominent underground Chinese churches two weeks before Christmas.

Wang Yi and Jiang Rong, a couple who led the 500-member Early Rain Covenant Church in Chengdu, have been detained on charges of inciting subversion of state power.

A believer surnamed Chan in Tai Po on Sunday said she decided to wear all black to the Remembrance of Grace Church after finding the petition on Facebook.

A Christian of 30 years, she expressed sympathy for the two pastors held in Sichuan province.

“I pray for them. Joining this action is an expression of my heart,” she said.

Chinese pastor Wang Yi’s wife Jiang Rong accused of inciting subversion and held in unknown location after Christian crackdown

Chan added she would also wear black at the next Sunday service.

Pastor Ng Si-wai led prayers for the mainland couple and played a recording of a song written about the crackdown by Dr John Chan Wai-on, assistance professor of theology at the Alliance Bible Seminary on Hong Kong’s outlying island of Cheung Chau.

Ng encouraged believers to join the action again next week.

She estimated the number in black was smaller than it could have been because churches did not notify their congregations until late last week. She expected more to join next Sunday.

“We want to let mainland Christians know that we have learned of what has happened and we strongly support them,” she said.

Hundreds of Hong Kong church-goers set to wear black in show of support for Christians facing crackdown in mainland China

Remembrance of Grace Church was founded 32 years ago. It has more than 1,000 members scattered around the Tai Po area as well as Fanling, Kowloon Bay, Sheung Shui and Kwai Chung. It is not affiliated with any political party.

Four of the five Christian groups that organised the dress-in-black action were founded after Hong Kong’s 2014 Occupy movement, a civil disobedience campaign for greater democracy. The churches were set up with the aim of engaging believers to build a better civil society.

The fifth group, Christians for Hong Kong, was established in 1987 by a set of believers who supported the city’s pro-democracy camp.

The crackdown on the mainland is part of a broader campaign in recent years against house churches and other unsanctioned Christian activities as Beijing grows more wary of political activism and opposition to the state through religion.

By Sunday evening, 412 people had signed the online petition pledging to join the wear-black campaign, according to Phyllis Luk Fung-ping, co-founder of Mission Citizens, one of the five organising groups.