When the Rev. Alcibiades Negret first moved to Mayabeque, the newest province in Cuba, he gathered people for worship under an almond tree.
Three years later, the 43-year-old pastor sits in the Methodist church parsonage, near that tree, in San José de las Lajas. The back of the house opens into a 100-seat sanctuary.
“We not only had the task of building this place physically, but of raising a congregation here because there wasn’t any,” Negret says. “As a superintendent, I also had to organize a new district.” ….
As with all pastoral families, this work is a group effort for Velazquez, his wife, Iliansis Rodriguez, and their two young daughters, who live next to the church.
With 93 members, and a group of 25 about to be baptized, the San Antonio church sponsors seven missions. “As a pastor, you need to have the vision, the spiritual discernment to know the needs of the people who come,” Velazquez says. Then the real work starts, he adds, by giving the word of God. ….
One of the San Antonio missions is at a house in nearby Caraballo, where Roberto Pozo, 52, and Lourdes Vazquez, 50, created a worship space from scratch. The husband-and-wife team has decorated with flowers and cakes to honor two couples from the congregation who married recently.
The celebration is important. It is very common for couples in Cuba to live together without marrying, Vazquez notes, but the church is encouraging that commitment.