Statement and Petition from a Group of Christians with regard to the Reverend Joseph Gu Incident

Statement and Petition from a Group of Christians
With regard to the Reverend Joseph Gu Incident

(People from Hong Kong and Overseas are welcome to join our petition)

We are a group of ministry workers and Christians in Hong Kong who are concerned with the church development in China. We are deeply shocked to learn that Reverend Joseph Gu, Chairman of Zhezjiang Christian Council, has been removed from his position as Senior Pastor of the Chongyi Church in Hangzhou and is now under investigation for alleged embezzlement. We would like to express our concerns and thoughts with the statement below:

  1. We believe that this incident is not an isolated one but is closely related to the cross demolition campaign. For the sake of protecting religious dignity as well as basic rights of the church, Reverend Gu, in his capacity as Senior Pastor of the Chongyi Church and Chairman of Zhezjiang Christian Council, has tried in various ways to convey to the authorities the severe deterioration of state-church relationship resulting from the forced removal of crosses. It is rightful for a church leader such as Reverend Gu to try to resolve conflicts, ease antagonistic feelings and revive state-church relationship. We are deeply troubled and enraged to see Reverend Gu receive unreasonable treatment after expressing dissenting views on the campaign.

  2. According to sources from the Hangzhou TSPM &CC annual sessions and the Zhejiang TSPM &CC annual sessions, the authorities put Reverend Gu under probe for the offence of embezzlement. Under Article 272 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, the offence is committed when “personnel of companies, enterprises, and other units, who take advantage of their offices[,] … misappropriate their units' funds for their own use or for lending to others”. We earnestly appeal to the authorities to dispel the doubts of the public and of the Christians as soon as possible, protect the basic rights of the reverend and his lawyers with adherence to fair judicial procedures, in a bid to clarify the alleged deeds he committed and the consequential responsibilities. As far as we know, right after the provincial Christian Council published an open letter to voice its opposition to the dismantling of crosses on 10 July 2015, a comprehensive investigation of the accounts of the Chongyi Church has been conducted. Such an act can hardly rid itself of the suspicion of framing dissidents with fabricated offences. We would like to express our deep discontentment with regard to the authorities’ intention to charge Reverend Gu with economic crimes so as to gloss over the problem in question, divert people’s attention and sidestep the problems of public power’s commitment of misconduct in the cross demolition campaign and various law infringing acts during the campaign’s implementation. Instead of paying due heed to the illegality involved in the removal of crosses, the public power combats naysaying church people in the name of law enforcement. We should all draw our attention to such unfair law enforcement practices.

  3. We have to reiterate that the cross demolition campaign which has been taking place in Zhejiang since 2014 has left state-church relationship deeply wounded. The unreasonable regulation over the cross as a religious symbol has infringed upon the freedom of religious expression. Additionally, the dismantling of crosses under the excuse of removing illegal structure, coupled with the ruthless acts of deconstruction has not only broken the promise of “law-based governance of the country” but also severely impacted the country’s image in maintaining religious freedom in the country. The fact that religious groups within the province have to declare support for the removal of crosses has deeply interfered with the civil nature and the autonomy of these groups, in contradiction with the principle of “Reconstructing Christianity in China” which has been practiced by Christians since the implementation of the reform and open policy. We earnestly urge the authorities, in view of the overall interest of the community, stop pursuing political struggle at the expense of solidarity and attach importance to religious harmony that has been painstakingly built up over the years, as such a bid is going to produce extreme damage to the state-church relationship as well as the international image of China.

  4. We sincerely call for those who are concerned with the church development in China to sign the petition. It is also hoped that they can use all ways possible to express their worries to the Chinese authorities and appeal for bringing the Reverend Gu incident to a favourable conclusion.

Let us all pray during such difficult time. May the Lord take care of Reverend Gu and his wife, protect and strengthen the churches in Hangzhou, Zhejiang as well as China.

Initiators (Listed in the order of Chinese character strokes)
Douglas WANG  (王礽福) Ka-fai WONG  (王家輝) Chun-ting WONG  (王震廷)
Chun-hung YU  (余振雄) Stephen P. H. LI  (李柏雄) Chun-hong LI  (李駿康)
Daniel LEE  (李耀坤) Yiu- yip CHAR  (車耀業) Fuk-tsang YING  (邢福增)
Jason Tsz-shun LAM  (林子淳) Enoch LAM  (林以諾 ) Nelson LAM  (林家賢)
Joe YAU  (邱祖淇) David C.W. WU  (胡志偉) Pele KO  (高國雄)
Wai-yee MA  (馬慧儀) Pang-fu CHAN  (陳鵬富) Po-ling SUN  (孫寶玲)
Hang-ngor PO  (浦姮娥) Paul CHEUNG  (張雲開) Wai-yip YUNG  (翁偉業)
Tin-yau YUEN  (袁天佑) Wai-luen KWOK  (郭偉聯) Ka-lun LEUNG  (梁家麟)
Yuen-yiu LEUNG  (梁遠耀) Sze-chi CHAN  (陳士齊) John CHAN  (陳韋安)
Youngman CHAN  (陳恩明) Huei-yin CHANG  (陳張慧嫈) Louis CHAN  (陳智衡)
Kim-wan CHAN  (陳劍雲) Common CHAN  (陳龍斌) Sam TSANG  (曾思瀚)
Chi-wood FUNG  (馮智活) Daniel YEUNG  (楊熙楠) Jason YEUNG  (楊慶球)
King-tak IP  (葉敬德) Alex IP  (葉漢浩   ) Kin-wo YIP  (葉建和   )
Wai-cheong WONG  (黃偉昌) Francis YIP  (葉菁華) Andy CHIU  (趙崇明)
Anthony CHIU  (趙善榮) Chi-hung LAU  (劉志雄) Yee-cheung LAN  (劉義章)
Kiven CHOY  (蔡少琪) Yeung-mei CHOI  (蔡揚眉) Alan CHOI  (蔡貴恆)
Daniel CHOI  (蔡錦圖   ) Ping-cheung LO  (羅秉祥) Kai-kin TAM  (譚啟見)
Leo KWAN  (關浩然) Lap-yan KUNG  (龔立人)

January 31, 2016

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