Published: 26/05/2006 00:00 - Updated: 29/11/2011 10:48

Cuban minister gets insight into Moray Kirk

Cuban minister Rev Daniel Izquierdo (centre left), with the Rev Bruce Lawrie and members of the High Spirits group of Elgin High Church.
Cuban minister Rev Daniel Izquierdo (centre left), with the Rev Bruce Lawrie and members of the High Spirits group of Elgin High Church.

A CUBAN clergyman was given an insight into the life of a busy parish minister in rural Moray. The Rev Daniel Izquierdo (47) from the Presbytery of Havana has been shadowing the work of the Rev Bruce Lawrie of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman. And the Cuban visitor was given a friendly welcome from congregations across the area, taking part in numerous acts of worship and church events. This week, the ministers are attending the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh accompanied by Mr Lawrie's wife, Marjorie. The warm welcome has made up for the vagaries of the Scottish climate, said Mr Izquierdo, on his second trip to Scotland, having visited the Central Belt two years ago. "I knew what to expect with the weather, but here in Moray, people are quite different from those in the cities," he said. "It is the same in Cuba. I like the people of the countryside very much, and it has been a good experience." The Cuban minister has seen how the Kirk has a role to play in the lifeblood of communities through Mr Lawrie's working week, in which he has carried out hospital visits, school chaplaincy work, met with many parishioners, as well as conducting funerals and other services. Mr Izquierdo attended the induction of the Rev Wilma Johnston at Cullen and met youth groups, guild representatives and numerous other church-related bodies during his time in Moray. It hasn't been all work and no play however, as he has had a day trip to the Highland capital, visited Burghead and met the Clavie King Dan Ralph, toured the Moray coastline and visited Glen Grant Distillery at Rothes. The church in Cuba is undergoing something of a revival after years of Communist suppression, Mr Izquierdo's explained, as the church is viewed as more acceptable following a change in stance from the country's leaders. "For many years, people were taught that churches may be something against the revolution and that church people were ignorant, crazy," he said. "Some people in Cuba still do not like churches and ministers, as for many folk it is still very difficult to accept the church, but things are changing. There has been a movement with the government saying 'we are a nation we need unity and everyone is included'. "In 1990, church leaders met Fidel Castro and the meeting was broadcast live on TV. For the first time in 40 years, many people started looking to churches and realised they were no bad thing. Things started to change from that moment." Mr Izquierdo's church has an average attendance of 60, with adults and children alike attending Sunday School and these classes take place prior to the Sunday service. The Presbytery of Havana is twinned with Moray Presbytery and Mr Lawrie visited Cuba 18 months ago to build links between the area. Mr Izquierdo's reciprocal trip has been supported by the Faith Share Scheme Council of World Mission Local Development. He jets back home this Sunday.

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