Havana, Cuba | Ray Dabrowski

Pastor Fontaine (left) president of the Cuban Seventh-day Adventist Church, introduces government officials including Caridad Diego(second right) director of Religious Affairs Office of the Cuban government, to the Maranatha group. Pastor Israel Leito, president of the Church's Inter-American Division, was among the visitors (right).

Pastor Fontaine (left) president of the Cuban Seventh-day Adventist Church, introduces government officials including Caridad Diego(second right) director of Religious Affairs Office of the Cuban government, to the Maranatha group. Pastor Israel Leito, president of the Church's Inter-American Division, was among the visitors (right).

Seminary Students welcome the Maranatha group. In the background the administration building of the school, built by Maranatha two years ago. More than 70 students are presently taking classes at the seminary.

Seminary Students welcome the Maranatha group. In the background the administration building of the school, built by Maranatha two years ago. More than 70 students are presently taking classes at the seminary.

The press equipment printing Adventist literature is more than one hundred years old.

The press equipment printing Adventist literature is more than one hundred years old.

Leo Ranzolin, General Vice President of the World Church, and Israel Leito, President of the Inter-American Division, at the Vibora Church, the largest Protestant Church in Cuba, built by Maranatha.

Leo Ranzolin, General Vice President of the World Church, and Israel Leito, President of the Inter-American Division, at the Vibora Church, the largest Protestant Church in Cuba, built by Maranatha.

Children released four doves at baptism celebration at the Havana's Almar swimming pool. Maranatha visitors witnessed 300 persons baptized.

Children released four doves at baptism celebration at the Havana's Almar swimming pool. Maranatha visitors witnessed 300 persons baptized.

Singing a joyful song! Mother and son share a hymnal at the Almar swimming pool baptism.

Singing a joyful song! Mother and son share a hymnal at the Almar swimming pool baptism.

In the waters of freedom... An embrace of love.

In the waters of freedom... An embrace of love.

Baptism candidates could not hold in their joy of being free in Christ.

Baptism candidates could not hold in their joy of being free in Christ.

Baptism service was attended by thousands Adventists from around the country. Pictured are teenagers who were baptized in the Almar swimming pool.

Baptism service was attended by thousands Adventists from around the country. Pictured are teenagers who were baptized in the Almar swimming pool.

Dozens of participants of the baptismal ceremony signed up for Bible studies.

Dozens of participants of the baptismal ceremony signed up for Bible studies.

Pinar del Rio church is located on a busy thoroughfare of the city. Vintage cars are a common sight everywhere in Cuba.

Pinar del Rio church is located on a busy thoroughfare of the city. Vintage cars are a common sight everywhere in Cuba.

Israel Leito, Garwin McNielus, and Leo Ranzolin cut the ribbon to the new Pinar del Rio Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Israel Leito, Garwin McNielus, and Leo Ranzolin cut the ribbon to the new Pinar del Rio Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Looking in... two girls watching the dedication ceremony at the Pinar del Rio Church.

Looking in... two girls watching the dedication ceremony at the Pinar del Rio Church.

The Pinar del Rio dedication was a solemn occasion attended by church members from the city and the vicinity. The Maranatha group was overwhelmed by the reception.

The Pinar del Rio dedication was a solemn occasion attended by church members from the city and the vicinity. The Maranatha group was overwhelmed by the reception.

Coutyard of the Pinar del Rio Church was full of laughter and praise during the dedication ceremony of the new sanctuary.

Coutyard of the Pinar del Rio Church was full of laughter and praise during the dedication ceremony of the new sanctuary.

The Havana Cathedral, a landmark of Old Havana.

The Havana Cathedral, a landmark of Old Havana.

As reported by the Adventist News Network, thousands of Seventh-day Adventists from all parts of Cuba witnessed a baptism of 300 new members on May 13. The baptism at the Almar swimming pool near Havana, the largest such facility in Cuba, was yet another evidence of the Church’s increasing presence in the society.

The same day, Seventh-day Adventists in Pinar del Rio, the largest city in the western part of Cuba, celebrated the dedication of a newly built church. “There are 700 seats here, but more than a thousand people come to the services. And there is the potential to see even further church growth here,” said Don Noble, president of Maranatha Volunteers International, an organization responsible for building the facility.

In 1998, Maranatha built a seminary complex and fully refurbished the Vibora Church in Havana, the largest Protestant church on the island. In the last six years Maranatha has refurbished 85 existing churches in Cuba and constructed 80 more. Nearly 100 men and women are completing their studies at the seminary.

What follows is a pictorial vignette of a visit to Cuba to participate in a celebration of service and growth. For ANN story, see May 16 ANN Bulletin.

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