Cuban Methodist Church and United Methodist
Mission Agency Renew Cooperative Relations
By Elliott Wright
Stamford, CT, April 3, 2006—Leaders of the autonomous Methodist Church of Cuba and of the mission agency of The United Methodist Church have signed a statement of solidarity and cooperation that heals a short-term breach in relationships.
The agreement, reflecting a “spirit of reconciliation and unity,” was made in Cuba on March 29 and was reported by Bishop Joel Martinez of San Antonio, president, and the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive, of the General Board of Global Ministries, whose directors met in Stamford on April 3-6.
Bishop Martinez and Rev. Day signed the statement along with Bishop Richardo Pereira of Cuba and Bishop Juan Vera-Mendez of Puerto Rico, who is also president of the Council of Bishops of the Council of Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean (CIEMAL).
A series of dialogues took place in Cuba in late March among these four and additional representatives of the Cuban church and Global Ministries. A presentation on the visit came in the opening session of the Global Ministries’ early April board meeting. All of the delegates from outside Cuba, including Bishop Vera-Mendez, took part.
The statement recognizes the long history of collaboration between the Cuban Methodists and the mission board and expresses regret for a “rupture” last year. At issue were misunderstandings over a decision by Global Ministries’ directors to close out several designated funds.
“After a moment of reflection and analysis,” the statement says of the incidents around the rupture, “we regretted and mutually apologized for all the events. Reaffirming our respect to the decisions of both organizations, we commitment ourselves not to let our mistakes set us apart and interfere in our missionary commitment.”
Both Cuban and Global Ministries delegates agreed to work together in the advancement of the “reign of God in Cuba and all over the world. “More than any economic support, we emphasize the strengthening of the work of both parties, within our limitations.”
“The Methodist Church of Cuba is a thriving, growing community and is a strong mission partner,” Bishop Martinez said in Stamford. “The United Methodist Church needs to stand solidly with our Cuban brothers and sisters and we need their example of faithfulness.”
The Methodist Church of Cuba has a membership of some 30,000, up substantially over the last two years. A visit of Bishop Pereira and a delegation from the Cuban church is projected for the fall of 2006, with visits of Global Ministries’ directors to Cuba in the future.
“We look forward to these visits, and we thank God for the strong links we are forging with the Church in Cuba,” said Day. “It is exciting to see what the Holy Spirit is doing through the Methodist witness there.”
The mission board expressed its willingness to continue sending missionaries and other personnel to Cuba. The Cuban Methodists encouraged Global Ministries to “continue its prophetic action in favor of the cause of the Cuban people.” The United Methodist Church, by action of its policy-making General Conference, opposes the continued US economic boycott of Cuba and also supports free speech for the people of Cuba.
“Our dialogue ended in a climate of harmony and understanding,” the statement says. “We ask the prayers of all the Methodist people for this new moment of cooperation, accompaniment, and participation of the Methodist Church of Cuba and the General Board of Global Ministries in the expansion of the Gospel through the whole earth.
In addition to Bishop Martinez and Mr. Day, delegation from Global Ministries included Jerald Scott-McKie, associate general secretary for community and institutional ministries, and the Rev. Jorge Domingues, assistant general secretary for global networks.
The Rev. Mario Alberto Perez, secretary of the Cuban church cabinet, and Omar Perez, assistant to Bishop Pereira for international Relations, were part of the Cuban delegation.
*Elliott Wright is information officer of the General Board of Global Ministries
Date posted: Apr 03, 2006