Cuba Part II: House churches

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BY JACK SHORT – This is the seond installment in a series of stories regarding the United Methodist Chuch of Boca Grande’s trip to Cuba in February.


The second leg of the Cuba journey, after difficulties with customs entering the country, was a short jaunt from the airport to a house church about an hour away. As restrictions on religions by the Cuban government eased, house churches sprang up to hold services at a time when church construction was still restricted. Over the course of the trip, missionaries from the Boca Grande United Methodist Church visited several of these residences, whose congregations were usually approximately 40 people.

The road from the airport was lined with walls and billboards proclaiming the ideological victories of the 1963 revolution and solidarity of the Cuban people under communism.

We pulled into a large yard and unloaded into a house where dinner had been prepared as a welcome. Though meat does not accompany all meals, many elements of a typical Cuban dinner were served: rice, beans, plantains, tomatoes and cabbage.

The exhausted missionaries filed through a dusty yard in the early evening, past a sleeping pig and some chickens. In the small house, comprising two or three rooms and a chapel, they sat and ate. It was a relatively subdued group after a long day of traveling.

Places like this had held up the foundations of the religious community through the decades of religious restrictions; a true grassroots effort by the people involved to organize and practice their beliefs.