Mission Work in Cuba
Since 1998, the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) has deepened its involvement with the Methodist Church in Cuba (IMECU), developing a partnership that seeks to serve the Cuban people as an outreach of God’s love. In a series of consultations, the Methodist Church in Cuba identified several areas in which outside assistance in fulfilling its mission ministries would be welcome.
In order to support mission work with the Cuban people, the GBGM and IMECU negotiate with the Cuban government to obtain permission for some programs, access state resources when applicable, and apply for various licenses or permits as necessary. The GBGM has supplied grants secured from a variety of program funds for the ministries listed below.
Support of House Churches
House churches have enabled the Methodist Church to reach thousands of people who would otherwise have no access to the church. The Methodist Church has 108 recognized church buildings and is restricted from building more without government permission; however, it has grown by leaps and bounds by opening more than 400 small house churches. The smaller venue provides space for people who are seeking to know God and explore Christianity with others in their community.
Many of the Methodist churches in Cuba are in disrepair and need immediate attention. In addition, two new churches have received the proper permits for construction. Scarcity of building materials and of hard currency (dollars, not Cuban pesos) to buy materials has hindered IMECU’s efforts to build churches and maintain existing ones.
Leadership Development and Training
Training for lay leaders and ministerial candidates is a major priority for the church. Scholarships for students attending the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas are necessary if the Methodist Church is to keep pace with its growing membership.
Facilities and Programming for the Elderly
The Noemí Deulofeo Home for the Elderly was in need of repair and at full capacity with 20 residents. IMECU sought to expand it by building an additional two stories and doubling its capacity. A grant also improved the health service facilities. After six years of negotiations, the church is also ready to build a small apartment complex to provide housing for retired pastors.
Salary Subsidy for Pastors
Recent actions taken by the Cuban government to alleviate the economic hardships caused by the collapse of the Soviet system and the ongoing US embargo have included opening the country to international tourism, capital investments, and legalizing hard currency for economic transactions in the country. Pastors who do not have access to hard currency, through either the tourism or investment industries, have suffered severe economic hardship.
The Cuban church has felt isolated not only from its US partners but from other Latin American partners as well. Church leaders, both lay and clergy, will receive travel funds to share their stories with other churches.
Support for Basic Operating Expenses
Funds are used for pastors’ salaries and benefits, seminary support, annual conference meetings, basic fuel costs, communications, housing costs, and administrative staff salaries.
Support Through the Advance
A number of Advance projects support the work of the Methodist Church in Cuba. Individuals, congregations, and conferences may send contributions to the Advance to assist in any of the following projects in Cuba.
Date posted: Jun 01, 2004