Korean Cult 'Shincheonji' Suspected to Host Christian Conference in Hong Kong to Attract Mainland Believers

A building
1/2A building
The posters of "2024 New Year Joint Conference for Global Chinese Pastors" which took place on January 14 and 15 in Hong Kong and a declaration from the Asia Lutheran Seminary
2/2The posters of "2024 New Year Joint Conference for Global Chinese Pastors" which took place on January 14 and 15 in Hong Kong and a declaration from the Asia Lutheran Seminary
By Christine Lau January 22nd, 2024

Claimed to be initiated by the collaboration of churches and pastors from Hong Kong and mainland China, the "2024 New Year Joint Conference for Global Chinese Pastors" took place on January 14 in Hong Kong, causing widespread attention.

According to the Concern Group on Newly Emerged Religions, the organizer is suspected to be associated with the heretical Shincheonji Church of Jesus from South Korea. The theme of the Christian conference was "Redemption of Resurrection, the Blood and Flesh of the Lamb," with around 300 attendees, mostly mainland Chinese believers. The gathering was held inside Noah's Ark in Ma Wan.

It is reported that an invitation letter was circulated online among Christian groups that only pastors and church workers were qualified to attend online or on-site in Hong Kong on January 15. The invitation letter included the slogan, "Let the initial love and enthusiasm reignite! Revive the church and shoulder the mission."

The Christian Times, an online Christian newspaper in China, revealed that many mainland Chinese believers and church workers received posters or registration links through diverse channels. Some even planned to attend the conference after seeing words like "revival" and others. After online registration, they received phone calls instructing them to come, with the meeting lasting about five days and attendees covering their travel expenses while accommodations were centrally arranged.

At the same time, a scholar on cults and heresies noticed this activity, warning them not to fill out the registration forms they send. Although it seemed ordinary, this group usually uses such special events to attract people and collect personal information, such as ID cards, Hong Kong-Macau travel document numbers, and passport numbers. They then input this information into their system, making individuals unwittingly part of their organization. The scholar mentioned knowing a victim in the past who was fired from their job because the church collected their personal information.

The Christian Times revealed that hundreds of believers from different regions of mainland China attended the on-site event, and the live situation was later broadcast online. Speakers from varied regions, such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangzhou, and Heilongjiang, claiming to be house church pastors, came forward to share. However, they never mentioned their religious beliefs or confessions of faith throughout the event. There were online rumors before the Christian gathering that a church in Suzhou was behind it, but the pastors in Suzhou denied any involvement.

During the event, the organizers did not disclose their specific background or mention the name of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus. They only promoted some spiritual courses scheduled to follow. However, those familiar with their situation mentioned that the Shincheonji Church typically does not reveal its stance or name upfront. They let people attend classes in phases, revealing their identity later, with significant confusion. The content of the on-site preaching raised explicit questions, especially during the sharing of the last speaker, who identified himself as Reverend Zhang. His theme was "Redemption of Resurrection, the Blood and Flesh of the Lamb," discussing prophecies from Revelation, the return of Jesus, and the new blood and flesh of Jesus, similar to the content spread on the website and videos of Shincheonji.

A Christian in Hong Kong, who preferred not to disclose their name, also mentioned that this activity was highly publicized locally. Some people went to the doors of churches, directly inviting pastors and preachers to participate. However, when pastors were repeatedly asked about their stance, denominational background, or statement of faith, they responded vaguely, only saying, "We are all one family in the Lord."

Several churches and Christian organizations in Hong Kong issued statements, saying that individuals associated with this cult had visited them. Pastors, unaware of the situation, took photos with these believers, and the photos were exploited to deceive people's trust. Therefore, they  declared that the group hosting the joint gathering had no connection with them and that they had not participated in planning or supporting these activities, urging Christians to discern carefully.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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