Tehran pastor arrested during church service

Tehran pastor arrested during church service

One of the leaders of the Central Assemblies of God Church in Tehran, Robert Asseriyan, was arrested today while leading a prayer meeting at the church.

Security forces first stormed into Pastor Asseriyan’s house, but when they did not find him there they went to the church, where they arrested him and took him to an unknown location.

Pastor Asseriyan is a psychologist who has for many years taught Christian theology and helped with the management of the church’s Bible school. The Christian books he has translated are used by researchers and academics.

Church members fear the church could now be closed until the end of June; the leaders said they would make an announcement about the future of the church on Sunday.

This is the latest episode in a series of increasing restrictions that Persian-speaking churches have faced over the past few years, following the forced closure of several Farsi-language services held on Fridays.

The AoG church was forced to halt its Friday services in October 2009, under pressure from agents of the Ministry of Intelligence.

Then, last year, two other officially registered churches in Tehran, Emmanuel Protestant Church and St Peter’s Evangelical Church, were also forced to stop their Friday services.