“The site of a planned outdoor Easter service at one of China's largest independent "house" churches was eerily silent Sunday as police blocked more than 500 worshippers from leaving their homes and detained more than 36 for attempting to attend religious services in Beijing, church officials said.
The gathering place for worshippers was empty as church-like bells sounded in northwest Beijing. Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers swarmed the site of Shouwang Church and prevented CNN journalists from accessing the area.
Authorities confiscated credentials from CNN crew members and detained them for half an hour.”
Christianity is growing faster in China than anywhere else on the planet – at more than 4 times the national population growth rate. In 2010, there were 4 million additional Christians in China, two thirds of which are converts. During the hundred years between 1910 and 2010, Christians have grown from 1.7 million to 115 million. Most of the growth has happened during the last 40 years.
81% of these first, second, and third generation Christians are Independent Christians and 17.4% are Catholic. Independent Christian leaders have been planning to challenge the state’s rejection of public worship for months.
"Even in these difficulties and divisions, each community has confirmed to AsiaNews that onthe night of the Easter Vigil, there will be dozens of baptisms in each parish or group. A parish in the north will see 40 baptisms. An important fact is the age of the newly baptized (mostly adults between 30 and 40 years) and the reasons that led them to become Catholic. "In a society where there is a lot of lies, they are driven to seek the truth and to find answers to important questions of life, that materialism is unable to meet."
Some estimates state there are at least 150 thousand newly baptized each year in China."
To put this into perspective, if this estimate is correct, China would see twice as many adult baptisms during the past year as the US Catholic Church will see this Easter. But the Catholic numbers would still represents only about 5.6% of all converts to Christianity in 2010.
Here's a short clip of the Lord's Prayer being sung at Ignatius Cathedral, Shanghai.