Church Worships In Aftermath Explosion

Source: Baptist Standard

Historic Calvario Baptist Church, Cuba’s oldest Baptist church in Old Havana, reconvened for worship in a basketball arena after a deadly explosion on May 6 rocked the hotel next door and damaged the sanctuary, causing the deaths of at 46 people and injuring more than 90 people in adjacent properties.

In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, Baptist pastors, Jose Betancourt and Abel Perez Hernandez, assisted with local search and rescue efforts according to Kurt Urbanek, strategy leader with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board.

Responding to the disaster, IMB delivered 14 suitcases filled with supplies including protective gear, shoes, clothing and other content.

President of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba, Barbaro Abel Marrero, said the church “did receive significant structural damage, with several walls and columns collapsed or cracked, the roof partially collapsed, and numerous losses of furniture.”

The blast not only damaged Calvario’s sanctuary, but also destroyed two adjacent apartments in the church facility: one housing the church administrator and the other the congregation’s parsonage for pastor Dariel Llanes Quintana. Additionally, the blast damaged the church’s Christian bookstore, printing house and media ministries.

In the past, Calvario has hosted seminary graduation ceremonies, annual convention assemblies and other gatherings for Baptists in Western Cuba, Marrero noted. The church’s building “was the first church building acquired by evangelicals in Cuba,” he said, remarking on its sentimental value.

Built with funds raised by the National Woman’s Missionary Union then known as the SBC Home Mission Board in 1889, the sanctuary was listed on Cuba’s register of National Historic Places.

Currently, church officials have committed to rebuilding and are in the process of raising funds to new support construction.

Source: Baptist Standard