Authorities in China’s Zhejiang province have formally arrested the former pastor of China’s largest state-run megachurch.
According to sources, authorities re-apprehended Gu Joseph Yuese sometime before Christmas, Christian Newswire reported.
On Jan. 7, his family was informed he had been arrested on embezzlement charges.
As the former chairman of the Hangzhou Municipal China Christian Council, a local branch of the China Christian Council (CCC), which, along with the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM), comprises China’s two government-run Christian organizations, Gu is the highest-profile Christian official to be targeted since the Cultural Revolution.
He also was a member of the Standing Committee of the national China Christian Council before being removed from both positions.
On Jan. 18, 2016, he was ousted as senior pastor of Chongyi Church, China’s largest Three-Self Church.
The local TSPM and CCC alleged that replacing Gu would help them better manage official churches, improve their relationship with the provincial government, and better circulate prominent Christians in charge of churches.
However, Gu had publicly opposed a campaign to demolish church crosses, causing many Christians to link his advocacy and dismissal.
On Jan. 28, 2016, officials placed Gu under “residential surveillance in a designated location,” otherwise known as a “black jail,” and held him incommunicado.
Two days later, China Aid learned he had been charged with “embezzling 10 million Yuan [US $1.6 million] in funds.”
He was released on bail in late March and held under house arrest.