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Cuban plane crash

Grieving relatives of passengers who died in Cuba’s worst aviation disaster leave the morgue in Havana on Saturday. (Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press)

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The Church of the Nazarene in the Windward Islands has called on its members to pray for their brethren in Cuba, where 10 Nazarene pastors and their spouses died in Friday’s plane crash.

The pastoral couples — some of whom already had children — were returning to eastern Cuba from a national conference when their plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Havana’s airport.

Reverend Kelron Harry, Superintendent of the Windward Islands District (St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada) of the Church of the Nazarene, said he received the crushing news on Saturday.

“The Windward Islands District of the Church of the Nazarene calls on all our Nazarene brethren and our all believers in Christ in our region to please pause for a moment in acknowledgment of these fallen soldiers,” Reverend Harry said.

He added: “Let us stop and fervently lift up their families to God. We hereby express our deepest condolences to all our bereaved families. We mourn with you. This is certainly a great loss to our work in Cuba, but we wait patiently upon God to see what He will bring forth from these ashes.”

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Harry further urged prayers for all of the families affected by the tragedy and the nation of Cuba.

Official reports from Cuba are that 110 of the 113 persons on board died — including the 20 Nazarenes. The condition of the three survivors has been listed as critical.

Among the Nazarenes who died in the crash are the Cuba East District’s Nazarene Missions International president, secretary, and treasurer. The couples were at a three-day national conference in Havana and were returning home to the Province of Holguín when the crash occurred. Eight children (seven boys and one girl) and two adolescents — all between the ages of seven and 16 — were left without their parents. Some of the couples had adult children.

“In this moment of anguish and pain, we ask for your prayers and help to be able to get through this situation together,” said Leonel López, national president for the Church of the Nazarene in Cuba.

The Church of the Nazarene is the largest denomination in the classical Wesleyan-Holiness tradition. The doctrine that distinguishes the Church of the Nazarene and other Wesleyan denominations from most other Christian denominations is that of entire sanctification. Nazarenes believe that God calls Christians to a life of holy living that is marked by an act of God, cleansing the heart from original sin and filling the individual with love for God and humankind.