Despite Hurricane Irma damage, Presbyterian mission at Cuban camp continues
July 14, 2018
The modest little stone chapel sits on a hilltop overlooking Centro de Actividades Nacionale Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada (CANIP), the national camp and conference center of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba (IPRC). The scene is one of devastation.
Last summer’s Hurricane Irma tore the roofs off most of CANIP’s buildings (dormitories, dining hall and chapel), toppled many trees and wrecked the water and electrical systems. Sitting on crude benches in the mangled chapel, one can see lots of blue sky where part of the corrugated tin roof used to be.
“CANIP is very damaged,” says the Rev. Edelberto Valdes, a pastor in Caibarién and general secretary of the IPRC. “We are trying to change the style of the roofs, because every year we lose more.”
CANIP was founded in July 1994, during the “special period” following the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been Cuba’s main political and economic patron since shortly after the Castro revolution in 1959. Since then it has been used to host IPRC meetings and activities, children and youth camps, ecumenical gatherings and international church gatherings.
The chapel that is home to the Presbyterian mission at CANIP was built in 1997 by young adult volunteers from CANACOM (the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission of what is now the World Communion of Reformed Churches).
Reconstruction at CANIP is supervised by the Rev. Reile Marrero, pastor of the Presbyterian church in nearby Santa Clara in Cuba’s central highlands. Marrero pastors one other church and two missions (small, informal congregations) in the area, including the CANIP mission.
“It is very important to have a mission here, because the people didn’t have a place to meet,” says Marrero. “We have prayer meetings here every Saturday with house church services two other times a week, plus Bible study every week.” Once a month, the mission serves lunch to older adults in the area. “And we are trying to get a Sunday school started,” Marrero adds.
With Marrero stretched so thin, “we are trying to train some new leaders for the mission,” Valdes says, noting that a pastor who previously served the mission has now gone to a nearby church that has languished without a pastor.
Valdes and the Rev. Ary Fernandez, pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Matanzas and moderator of the IPRC, believe the Presbyterian mission at CANIP will flourish once again, as soon as repairs have been made and the camp is fully operational. “Everyone will feel better when we have our camp back,” says Fernandez.
In the meantime, the Presbyterian mission at CANIP carries on. “We will be fine,” Marrero says. “God is in control.”
Jerry Van Marter, Interim Director of Communications, Ecclesial & Ecumenical Ministries, Office of the General Assembly Communications
Today’s Focus: Centro de Actividades Nacionale Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada (CANIP)
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Lord, we thank you for the privilege of being able to support your mission around the world. Give us the wisdom daily to serve you through service to others. Amen.