House services in Las Palmas
It is only a step from the kitchen into the church. For more than 20 years, services of the Las Tricias Congregation on the island of Las Palmas have been taking place in the house of the Huber family. Here is the story of a small and very lively congregation.
Ursi and Rolf Huber originally came from the city of Wetzikon in Switzerland. At the end of the 1980s the couple had the desire to emigrate. At first they thought of emigrating to Canada, but they were also taken with the Canary Islands.
It was not until the early 1990s that the decisive impulse came, when Rolf Huber came across an ad in a newspaper: “Land for sale on Las Palmas”. Before the final decision was made, Rolf Huber—then a Deacon—called Apostle Luigi Albert, who was responsible for the congregations in Spain. When he mentioned that he was a little concerned about learning the Spanish language fast enough, the Apostle commented with humour: “I managed to learn it at age 54, then you shouldn’t have a problem at 34.”
Family visits in the beginning
A few weeks later, the Hubers bought a piece of land in Las Tricias. They stayed in Switzerland for almost another year and prepared everything for their new life. They took an intensive Spanish course, dissolved their household, and built up financial reserves. On 31 May 1994 the Swiss couple immigrated to Las Palmas.
There was no New Apostolic congregation there yet. As a matter of fact, there were only two congregations in the Canary Islands: one on the island of Tenerife and the other on Grand Canary Island. Pastoral care was provided by Evangelist Juan-Antonio Macías, who came to Las Palmas two or three times a year for a family visit.
A growing congregation
The situation changed in 1996 when a family from Germany with two small children moved to the nearby town of Puntagorda. Services started to be held regularly in this family’s home. Evangelist Macías came once a month. The congregation grew steadily over the next few years. Soon, services were held every two weeks and the family’s home began to be a little cramped.
Together with the rector, Rolf Huber set out to find new premises. Unfortunately, they found nothing. This is how the plan was born to move the congregation into the Huber’s house. At first, services took place in the living room of a small holiday apartment they had in the house. But Rolf Huber was still working on the house: “We had actually planned to build a living room,” he says with a smile. “But then it became our church.”
Evangelist Macías looked after the congregation until 2005, when Priest Huber was appointed rector of the congregation Las Tricias. The congregation was small, but there was somehow always someone who could play the organ. “Our choir had five members: a bass, a tenor, an alto, two sopranos,” remembers Priest Huber.
“It is something very special when an Apostle comes to visit such a small congregation. It feels different than a visit by an Apostle in a large church. Usually, after service, we all still sat together,” Priest Huber says. “In such get-togethers you really get to know your ministers better,” he says.
Nostalgia for Las Palmas
In 2017 an illness forced Priest Huber to return to Switzerland. Since then District Evangelist Claus Ruthardt has supported the district elder Victor Alganza in the five congregations on the four Canary Islands. In addition to this, he is also the rector of the congregations San Cristobal de La Laguna (Tenerife North) and Las Tricias (Las Palmas).
Ursi and Rolf Huber have a big wish: the sooner they can return to “their” island, their congregation of Las Tricias, the better. For Las Palmas is home to the couple. “I can hardly wait to get back to my garden there. And I would love to keep goats again,” Priest Huber says and adds with a wink: “… and extend the house just for fun.”