Fidel Castro to Help Construct Evangelical Churches in Cuba

Cuban President Fidel Castro will provide facilities to help Evangelical Churches build new churches and develop their pastoral mission, said the head of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

At the end of his four-day visit to Cuba, WCC’s general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, had what he described as a “very good meeting” with the Cuban president, according to an Aug. 8 report by the Latin American and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC). The talks addressed different issues – in particular Church-State relations on the island and the challenge represented by the growth of Cuban Evangelical Churches in recent years.

"Churches, in particular Protestant churches, are growing and because of this growth, they need to build new churches and seminaries and have access to the media in order to tackle the pastoral challenges that arise in their service to the Cuban people," said Kobia, according to the WCC.

Kobia told the Cuban president that all Cuban churches should receive equal treatment on the part of the state in order to meet the challenges raised by their pastoral ministry.

During the Aug. 3 meeting, the WCC head was also able to confirm and emphasize the important contribution that churches make to Cuban society.

According to the ALC, Kobia said Castro was positive about his request to allow the construction of new churches and said that his "government does not have any limitations on the growth of churches and supports these constructions."

Currently, the WCC has two member churches in Cuba – the Methodist Church and the First Presbyterian Reformed Church.

During his stay in Cuba, Kobia preached in both churches and met with Cardinal Jaime Ortega, with leaders from the Cuban Council of Churches as well as with government authorities. His agenda also included a visit to universities, hospital centers and the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Matanzas.

The four-day pastoral visit to Cuban Churches was Kobia’s first since beginning as WCC secretary general in 2004.

The delegation that accompanied him included WCC president from North America, Dr Bernice Powell-Jackson of the United Church of Christ (USA), and WCC central committee member Bishop Rolf Koppe of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).