Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Quanzhou Church and Police on Christmas Eve

On the evening of December 24, I was walking down a street in Quanzhou, Fujian province, and noticed a church. Given the Christmas Eve celebrations, it was rather active, and like many other passersby I decided to take a closer look.

inside a church in Quanzhou, China
A view from the upper balcony

Although the evening service wouldn't start for another 90 minutes, people were already taking seats. Several people told me it was safe to say the church would soon fill to capacity. Fortunately, plenty of staff was around to assist everyone.

shirt with the words "Jesus Love You" in Quanzhou, China
Back of the shirt worn by some of the church staff

I observed some preparations for the service and saw several people dressed up for the occasion.

One of the rooms underneath the main prayer area

I didn't attend the service, so I have nothing to say about it. But at least I can share a photo of the church's exterior.

church with police standing outside in Quanzhou, China
A benefit of a wide-angle lens

Some readers might now be wondering about the police who just happen to be captured in the photo. I counted more than 30, and I suspect there were others. I first observed them when three entered the church to take photographs. When I caught one of them trying to photograph me from the side (ah, peripheral vision) I decided it was a sign to leave even though I did not expect there would be any problems.

The large number of people attending this open church service and the large police presence reminds me of a statement I made last year in a post about Easter in China:
The issue of religion is an example of how China can be open and free in some ways and yet so controlled and censored in other ways.
I will leave it at that since I'd only be rehashing the earlier post.

Anyways, it was a striking scene to me. People attending church, people stopping by just to look and have a photograph of themselves taken, and police keeping an eye on all of it. Just another Christmas Eve in China...

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