Local Church (and ‘shouters’)

Local Church (and ‘shouters’)
Protestant sect
The ‘Local Church’, which is sometimes called by its adherents ‘churches in the Lord’s recovery’, is a movement partially derived from ideas of Watchman Nee (Ni Tuoshen, 1903–72) and his movement, called by some the Little Flock. A cardinal principle of Nee from the 1920s on was the desire to supersede denominationalism, which he despised as a pernicious Western creation, and to have just one church—the ‘local church’—in each city or locality. When Nee was imprisoned in the 1950s, the legacy of his movement was elaborated by his followers, including a former lieutenant, Witness Lee (Li Changshou), in Taiwan and then in North America.
The Little Flock remnants in China which had survived the years of persecution linked up around 1980 with missionary representatives of the Local Church movement based outside China. The result was a spectrum of groups, to greater or lesser degrees standing in the tradition of Nee’s old movement, mixed with the newer doctrines of Witness Lee. In the 1980s, some of the groups, especially those in Zhejiang province, engaged in loud verbal behaviours during worship, and were dubbed the ‘shouters’ (huhanpai).
Several cases of violent disruption among Protestants were associated with their activities in the 1980s. These elements, rightly or wrongly, were denounced by the government and by the Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) as sectarian and illegitimate, and have been persecuted on and off ever since. In the early 2000s, the ‘shouters’ were still on the list of ‘evil cults’ pursued by the authorities. During 2002, some foreign representatives of the Local Church reportedly announced an end to relationships with the ‘shouters’. Thus the links between them are uncertain at the present.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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