Iran: Church under pressure from authorities closes

The Central Assemblies of God church in Tehran was closed on Thursday due to pressure from Iranian security authorities.

According to a story by Mohabat Iranian Christian News Agency, a well placed source said that a sign is posted on the main entrance of the church saying that the church is temporarily closed.

Mohabat News said the source also said that the church staff have not gone to work for two days.

The source also told Mohabat News, "The Islamic regime's intelligence forces have been pressuring the church to close down since six months ago. The authorities also announced two days ago that anyone who tries to enter the church will be arrested."

Mohabat News reported that its source believes the main reason for closure of the church is that the Iranian security authorities wanted to limit the church service to just the Armenian language, and prevent any Farsi services.

In another incident on May 21, security authorities arrested Pastor Robert Asseriyan in the middle of a church service and transferred him to an unknown location.

Asseriyan is one of the leaders of the Assemblies church in Tehran.

Dr. George O Wood, the General Superintendent of the General Council of the Assemblies of God in the US, released a statement after the pastor's arrest.

Mohabat News said he expressed concern over the pressure on Persian-speaking churches in Iran, and appealed that the persecution and pressure exerted by the Iranian authorities on the country's Christians be lifted.

Elsewhere in Wood's statement, he said that closure of the Central Assemblies of God church in Tehran is a beginning of the end for all other Farsi speaking churches across Iran.

Wood commented, "Such a move would essentially remove all open witness of the gospel of Christ in the country."

Mohabat News reports Central's congregation was told to attend this Sunday's service to hear the final decision of the church council regarding the situation. It is unclear at this point whether or not that service will be held.

For some time the Central Assembly of God and other churches affiliated with it, have been under pressure to cancel their Farsi language services, the news agency reports. For their church services to continue, they were told that all services be held in Armenian.

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