diciembre 14, 2006

U.S. Presbyterian official helps Cubans mark 100th anniversary of first Protestant temple.

The executive officer of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) helped Cubans celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the capital's first Protestant temple on Sunday, giving a sermon in which he urged all Christians to do more to eliminate global inequality.
The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick spoke in both English and Spanish to hundreds of followers and diplomats at the ceremony in central Havana. Delegations from Florida and Washington D.C. were also present.
"A better world is possible," said the American minister, criticizing Christians who fail to work toward creating a planet where everyone has a dignified life and enough to eat and drink.
Kirkpatrick first came to Cuba 20 years ago. He spoke of the history of the church, which was inaugurated in 1906 and hosted the founding of the Cuban Council of Churches in 1941.
"This church has been witness to very difficult, very complex times," he said, referring to low attendance rates and tension with the Cuban government in the past.
A Cuban choir sang Christmas songs, bathed in colorful light from exquisite stained-glass windows, at the ceremony.
Cuba is home to some 20,000 Protestants, according to Rev. Hector Mendez, who leads the Havana church. Protestants are a minority on the island, where the Catholic Church and followers of the syncretism Afro-Cuban Santeria religion dominate.
Mendez said Kirkpatrick's participation in Sunday's ceremony symbolized the brotherhood between the people of the United States and Cuba, despite tense relations between the two governments. He said he is against a series of U.S. regulations which squeeze the Cuban economy and limit religious contact between Americans and Cubans.
"We must set an example of love, of reconciliation," he said.
The Havana church offers home bible study, music and relaxation courses, and assistance to the elderly.
International Herald Tribune.
Photo: First Presbyterian-Reformed Church of Havana