Receive children. Receive me.
A goodly number of women and a handful of men braved wind, snow and hail to join together in The Women's World Day of Prayer service in St Peter's on Friday 4 March.
The chosen country for 2016 was Cuba and their motto was "Receive Children. Receive Me". The service was prepared by Christian women of Cuba. It is worthwhile quoting from the service sheet:
While we slept in our beds last night the Day of Prayer had already begun when the sun rose over Samoa and the first service was held.
We are now part of a great wave of prayer that will continue to encircle the earth until the last service is held as the sun sets over American Samoa, by which time an estimated three million women, men and young people in 170 countries and islands will have prayed with and for the people of Cuba.
In the British Isle alone some 6,000 services will have been held
Following the service, in addition to tea and coffee, the congregation was offered a choice of Cuban cakes and biscuits!.
|Those who took part in leading the service at St Peter's gather at the back of the chucrh just before the service began|
|As people arrived they were asked to write their Christian name on a paper flower. These flowers were placed in a basket and presented with the offering.||The Cuban flag and parrots - made by children - were displayed throughout the church|
Cuba is an island nation consisting of the main island, Cuba, and numerous small islands, cays and islets, many of which are entirely covered by mangrove. It is the largest island in the Caribbean and spans a surface area of 110,860 square kilometres (42,803 square miles), about the same size as England. The United States lies 150 kilometres (93 miles) to the north with The Bahamas to the northeast, Mexico to the west, Jamaica to the south and Haiti to the southeast. The capital is Havana.
Cuba has a population of just over 11,000,000 but data indicate a decline in the birth and population growth rates. An increase in emigration has led to a high population aged 65 and over. Life expectancy is 77 years for men and 80 for women.
The climate is warm, humid and subtropical with an average temperature of 25.5ºC. Due to its geographical location and elongated shape, Cuba is very prone to hurricanes.
After the revolution, the government of Cuba restricted religious practice leading to an atheist state. In 1990 the constitution re-established the lay character of the State and guaranteed religious freedom. This enabled people to return to the public practice of faith. Many congregations had survived through the extraordinary work of women who had taken on the leadership when so many pastors had been conscripted or had emigrated. In most Cuban congregations today women have high level roles.
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination, reflecting the Spanish history. During the 19th century a number of Protestant churches were established and now there are over 60 denominations.
The Council of Churches in Cuba brings together most denominations and among its various programmes is one for integral education of women and the family.
Islam Judaism, Spiritualism and New Christian Religious Movements with fundamentalist tendencies are also present.