On Sunday, March 21, while in Cuba with a delegation of leaders from the Synod of the Sun, I was invited to preach at Iglesia Presbiteriana de Luyano in a poor neighborhood of Havana. I was ably and entertainingly assisted by the Rev. Adolfo Ham, a renowned Cuban Presbyterian theologian and pastor emeritus of the Luyano Church.

The immaculate building bustled with activity all morning — every room and several outdoor areas packed for Sunday school with church members of all ages. Between Sunday school and church, worshipers gathered on a patio for snacks and conversation. The sanctuary, which seats perhaps 150, was filled for worship with a spirited multi-generational congregation.

Luyano’s pastor, the Rev. Dora Arce Valentin, comes from a family of Presbyterian leaders. Her father has been a leading Cuban Presbyterian theologian for decades. Her brother, Reinerio, is president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas.

Dora Arce is a popular speaker who has addressed numerous Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gatherings. She was also the first (and so far only) woman elected president (moderator) of the IPRC General Synod, which corresponds to the PC(USA)’s General Assembly.

Luyano Church clearly reflects Dora’s warm, personal approach to ministry — constantly seeking new ways to serve its neighborhood — from outreach to persons with HIV/AIDS and their families to a flourishing medicinal herb garden near the church’s patio area/parking lot.

Welcome to a typical Sunday morning at Luyano Presbyterian Church.