Mission worker: Jo Ella Holman, regional liaison for the Caribbean
Unseen Cuba—Amazing pix by photographer Marius Jovaisa
Cuba Ready to Exchange Diplomats, Raúl Castro Says,
once it is formally removed this month from the American government’s list of states sponsoring terrorism
Raúl Castro Meets With Pope Francis at Vatican
Castro praises the pontiff for helping to broker last year’s diplomatic breakthrough between Cuba and the United States while declaring that Francis had inspired him to consider returning to the Roman Catholic Church.
To Cuba on Business
But traveling there for business is not as easy as it might appear, despite significant changes.
U.S. is pressing Cuba to allow the opening of its embassy in Havana by April despite the Communist island's demand that it first be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism—Reuters
As Cuba Shifts Toward Capitalism, Inequality Grows More Visible
As Cuba opens the door wider to private enterprise, the gap between the haves and have-nots — and between whites and blacks — that the revolution sought to diminish is growing more evident.—New York Times
Cuba: 20 Years of Services for People in Crisis
Telefono Amigo is a non-profit initiative offering health services for individuals who face a problem and need to confront it with the help of a specialist. Its work consists in "restoring their emotional and spiritual health." The project originated within a Christian church, but it is not sectarian. "What we offer is love, born out of our Christian faith."—Havana Times
Why Are Cubans So Special?
For almost a half century, Cubans have been the most privileged immigrants in the United States. The repeal of this Cold War relic of immigration policy is long overdue. —New York Times op ed
Fidel Castro Brreaks His Silence, Shares Views on Warming of Relations
…writing in a letter that he supported a peaceful end to conflict but still distrusted American politics
Members of Congress, in Cuba, Discuss Trade but Don’t Meet With Castro
An expected session with President Raúl Castro did not materialize after the delegation met with several Cuba dissidents.
U.S. Congressional Delegation to Spend 3 Days in Cuba
The trip, led by Senator Patrick Leahy, is one of the first steps to chart a new relationship with Cuba after President Obama announced he was restoring full diplomatic ties.—New York Times
Cuba Is Reported to Release 26 Dissidents
…some of them believed to be among 53 it had agreed to free last month as the U.S. and Cuba decided to normalize diplomatic relations.
On the Open Road, Signs of a Changing Cuba—New York Times
Tear down walls by building relationships, advocating for justice, and listening—Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons
Cuba Again Arrests Artist Seeking Dissidents’ Release
Tania Bruguera, an advocate of free speech in Cuba, was arrested for the third time in two days
PC(USA) Stated Clerk lauds historic action on Cuba
After many long years, we welcome the historic steps taken by President Obama on normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been working for more than 30 years to help ease the hardships caused by the United States’ economic embargo on Cuba and to end the embargo itself.
Office of Public Witness celebrates President Obama’s work on Cuba
The announcement of momentous changes in U.S. policy towards Cuba is welcome news to all who have been working toward the normalization of relations with Cuba. The PC(USA) has been advocating for changes in policy towards Cuba for over 50 years.
Declaration of The Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba regarding the announcement of reestablishing relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States of America
We give thanks to God and joyously celebrates these agreements. Through the decades, we have been bridges for meeting and for exchanging visit between Cuban and U.S. churches; we have dedicated ourselves to contributing to the Gospel ideal of struggling for peace and justice
New York Times articles about the U.S./Cuba. normalization of relations:
Sudden U.S. Thaw Worries Cuban Dissidents
Can Cuba Escape Poverty but Stay Healthy?
Key Takeaways as U.S. and Cuba Agree to Normalize Relations
Updates and key takeaways on the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba.
INTERACTIVE: How America’s Relationship With Cuba Will Change
Which travel and trade restrictions will be eased or eliminated.
'I Don't Stay Angry Any More'
Laureano Vilches, whose family business in Cuba was seized by the Communists, says President Obama’s decision to normalize relations was worth celebrating.
Washington Already Has Its Man in Havana
Cuba and the United States have not formally restored relations yet, but they are represented in each other’s capitals. The senior American diplomat in Havana took up the post in August.
U.N. Secretary General Knew Breakthrough Was Coming
Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, said that he had been “informed in advance by the U.S. government” about the diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba.
Jeb Bush: U.S. Has Rewarded Castro Brothers' 'Heinous' Behavior
Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida said the Cuba decision was another foreign policy mistake by President Obama.
Cruz Laments 'Very, Very Bad Deal' With Cuba
Republicans have been busy crafting new ways of expressing their views of President Obama’s move to ease relations with Cuba but the bottom line is largely the same: they don’t like it.
When J.F.K. Secretly Reached Out to Castro
A meeting just a few days before the president’s assassination.
Taking Cuba Off the Blacklist Leaves Only North Korea as Cold War Vestige
Political historians said the steps announced on Wednesday were akin to the steps taken to normalize relations with China and Vietnam.
Hope, and Caution, From a Cuban in New Jersey
Ignacio Alfonso, part owner of the Cuban restaurant El Artesano in Union City, N.J., supports the easing of American restrictions against Cuba but thinks there is a long way to go before Cubans will be truly free.
Dissident Cuban Blogger Welcomes Move to End Embargo
One of Cuba’s most prominent dissidents, the blogger Yoani Sánchez, welcomed President Obama’s move to end the embargo.
One Big Risk for Cuba-U.S. Relations: Moving Too Fast
Gradual transition to freer trade and a hybrid market system, like China, is probably better than a headlong rush to capitalism, like Russia.
Still Fleeing Cuba
My parents left more than 50 years ago. But the anguish remains
Big Business Backs Shift on Cuba
America’s businesses are excited about the possibility of a new market opening up south of the border.
New York Times Poll Finds Public Support for Re-Establishing Relations with Cuba
Most Americans support normalizing trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba and consider what happens in the communist nation to be important to the interests of the United States.
Alan Gross released from Cuba prison in prisoner swap
The three Cubans released in the US are part of the so-called Cuban Five convicted of spying
Cuba’s Economy at a Crossroads
A change in Washington’s attitude could help tip Havana toward liberalization—Editorial Board, New York Times
December 4, 2014, New York Times
U.S. Calls on Cuba to Free American Held Since 2009 as Spy
Relatives say Alan P. Gross, an American government contractor, is suicidal over a lack of progress in his case.
November 22, 2014, New York Times
Extolling Moderation to Get Cubans Talking About Politics
Two former journalists have created a space in Havana where dissidents, communists, artists, exiles and intellectuals alike can discuss national issues.
October 30, 2014, New York Times
Coast Guard Rescues Cubans Off Boca Raton in New Sign of Perilous Efforts to Flee
The number of Cubans attempting to immigrate to the United States by sea has nearly doubled in the past two years.
September 2, 2014, New York Times
U.S. Travelers to Cuba Face Stricter Rules on Imports
Cuba has imposed stronger restrictions on goods being brought into the country by relatives of its citizens, meaning some Americans will not be able to deliver as many gifts to their families as they have in the past.—Associated Press
U.S., Cuban religious leaders press humanitarian case for prisoners’ release
The Rev. John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, accompanied by PC(USA) General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and Rabbi Elhanan Sunny Schnitzer, executive director of the Cuba America Jewish Mission, traveled to Cuba for the latest in a series of meetings emphasizing the humanitarian reasons for release of American Alan Phillip Gross from prison in Cuba, and of the three members of the “Cuban 5” still in prison in the U.S. Along with leaders of the Cuban Council of Churches, they met in Havana with Cuban government officials, including Cuban first vice-president Miguel Diaz-Canel; with officials of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, including Chief of Mission Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis; and with Cuban religious leaders.
Statement by delegation to Cuba calls for release of captives
A united call was issued on November 4 for the humanitarian release of the Cuban 5 and the American Alan Gross.
Nov 3, 2014. The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA) is part of a delegation of faith leaders in Cuba for visits with church representatives and Cuban government officials. Read more
The U.S. Will Collaborate With Cuba … on Ebola
The State Department said it “welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with Cuba,” which has pledged to send hundreds of doctors and nurses to treat patients in the three countries where the virus is spreading fastest. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro called on the United States to set aside its long-term differences with Havana in order to make headway on the fight against Ebola.—New York Times
Cuba’s Impressive Role on Ebola
Only Cuba and a few NGOx are offering what is most needed: medical professionals in the field.—New York Times
Religious leaders press Obama on high-level dialogue with Cuba
16 leaders—among rhem, PC(USA)'s stated xlerk—ask President Obama to take actions to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments, including permitting more "people to people" travel from the U.S. to Cuba
The widow’s might
Cuban Presbyterian spends long-blocked pension to buy her church a new house
Cuban church leaders press for normalization with U.S.
Restrictions hurt Cuban families, church-to-church relations, Cuban and U.S. religious officials tell Congress
Cuban Church Leaders Push for Improved Cuba-U.S. Relations: Church World Service (CWS) Head Calls Faith Community to Action
As a delegation from the Cuban Council of Churches meets with administration officials and members of Congress during a Feb. 26-27 visit to Washington, D.C.,CWS President and CEO the Rev. John McCullough has called the U.S. faith community to action around improved relations with Cuba.—CWS/ Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
Cuba connection: A conversation with Dean Lewis in Cuba
“I am inspired by the perseverance, vitality and faithfulness of the Cuban church”
CELAC Summit Targets Inequality
Havana, Cuba, Jan. 31, 2014. Heads of state and government at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) made a joint commitment to reduce poverty, hunger and inequality, and declared their region a "zone of peace." The summit, held in Havana Jan. 28-29, was attended by the heads of all Latin American and Caribbean countries except Panama, Belize and El Salvador. The meeting of 30 presidents also put an end to Cuban isolation.—Inter Press Service News Agency, IPS
‘Weavers of Hope’
Cuban women artisans unite for financial independence, spiritual growth
God’s call leads theological student from Dominican Republic to South Bronx to Cuba
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City’s tough South Bronx neighborhood, Manolo De Los Santos is now studying theology and preparing for the ministry at Evangelical Theological Seminary or SET.
US-Cuba migration talks to be held in Havana
U.S. and Cuban government officials will meet in Havana on Jan. 8 for the second round of migration talks since the Obama administration resumed the contacts in July. Read more:
From the Latin America Working Group:
Leave a message for the president: Join the 188 nations and end the U.S. embargo on Cuba
On Oct 29, 2013, the United Nations will vote on a resolution condemning the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. This is the 22nd year in a row that the UN has voted with a majority denouncing this out-dated Cuba policy.
Religious leaders urge direct talks between U.S., Cuba
21 U.S. religious leaders—including PC(USA) General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons—sent a letter to President Obama urging “concrete action to pursue a path toward improved relations with Cuba.”
Council of Churches of Cuba partners with U.S. Rainbow Coalition PUSH emphasizing political and ecumenical cooperation, including end to ‘terrorism’ statu —Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency
Religious leaders—including PC(USA) G.A. stated clerk—urge ‘path toward improved relations with Cuba’
As next steps the 19 leaders urged:
• direct, high-level dialogue with the Cuban government.
• removal of Cuba from the United States' list of state sponsors of terrorism.
• lifting of all restrictions on purposeful people-to-people travel between the United States and Cuba.
Church leaders affirm Cuban religious reforms
“Religious groups have benefited from the reforms now taking place in Cuba"
Water purification system fuels Cuban congregation’s outreach
Living Waters for the World installed a water purification system at Prince of Peace Church, and life for the people of this community changed dramatically
Led by faith, Cuban farmers create sustainable agriculture and community
CLAI VI GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Havana (May 2013):
• "Parliamentariatitis" in procedural hassles during opening business; Cuba’s religious affairs director warmly received
What U.S. Presbyterians should learn from Latin American Christians: a conga line dancing down the aisles during worship. What Latin American Christians should not have learned from U.S. Presbyterians: parliamentary procedure. —Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
• Lutheran Argentinean – Ecuadorian pastor, Rev. Felipe Adolf, elected new president of CLAI
Following five ballots, Adolf was elected on May 24, 2013, as President of the Board of Directors of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). .”—Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
• Recounting CLAI’s history using Luke 8
The ecumenical movement frequently uses the imagery of a boat, CLAI General Secretary Nilton Giese told the organization’s sixth General Assembly on May 24. —Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
• Voices at the CLAI VI General Assembly
New CLAI President values regional ecumenical relations.—Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
• Youth call for equality and women for empowerment
In a statement to the CLAI assembly, interrupting a plenary session, youth expressed their dissatisfaction at the “almost null youth participation in the delegations attending the assembly,” while the women reaffirmed their purpose of deconstructing the hegemonic and ‘machista’ models in the churches. —Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
• Christian spirituality demands a more Samaritan Church, assembly told at closing service
Delegates, advisors and guests have returned to their home countries following a week of debates at the VI General Assembly of the CLAI, held in Havana May 20-25. Each participant carried a cross on their chest, made from the wooden remains of the houses that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy last year.—Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
Cubans see Internet as crucial to future development—Inter Press Service
Cuba Mission Network maintains close relationship between PC(USA) and Cuban Presbyterians
View a slideshow from the network meeting in December 2012
Plans begin in Havana for the CLAI VI Assembly; Latin American Council of Churches meeting will be the first in Cuba
Latin American Council of Churches to meet in Cuba
“Affirming an Ecumenism of Concrete Gestures” is the CLAI's theme'
Presbyterian witness in Cuba began in 1890. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues the tradition of Christian support through our partner church and mission personnel. The gospel is preached in more than 40 communities across four provinces in central Cuba. Congregations also reach out to elderly persons and others particularly affected by the country’s economic problems. Through the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanza students receive preparation for ministry. Lay leaders receive training through programs around the island. There are many PC(USA) congregation and presbytery partnerships with Cuban churches and presbyteries.
Read a brief history of Cuba.
The Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba (IPRC)
In 1890 Evaristo P. Collazo started churches in Havana and Santa Clara. In the same year he became acquainted with a Presbyterian from the United States, Anthony T. Graybill. By 1918 the friendship of these two men had given birth to a Presbyterian Church in Cuba related to the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.’s National Mission program. The relationship with the U.S. church was so strong that until the time of the Cuban revolution in 1959 Cuba was part of the Synod of New Jersey. In 1967 the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba (IPRC) was established as an autonomous denomination.
While no diplomatic relationships between the United States and Cuba have existed for many years, the two churches have maintained a close relationship. A Mutual Mission Agreement adopted by both General Assemblies celebrates the unity of Christ, a common Reformed tradition, and the sharing in “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism.” The Agreement details a commitment to sharing and exchange.
The IPRC has three presbyteries and a synod. New energy is felt all over Cuba as the Cuban people are returning to their Christian roots or are joining the Christian community for the first time.
Although the IPRC has highly trained and skilled leaders and church schoolteachers, there are too few to meet the increasing needs. Theological and Christian education are high priorities for the Cuban church. Each year a curriculum is written and sent to all churches and workshops provide training for new leaders. Throughout the years the women’s organization has given strength and vitality to the church. Women pastors are accepted and valued for their leadership and faithfulness. The church in Cuban society today has become an important place for those who are searching for meaning and spirituality. The IPRC is moving into new areas of pastoral ministry to meet the needs and concerns.
Presbytery of Baltimore
Presbytery of the Cascades
Presbytery of Central Florida
Presbytery of Chicago
Presbytery of Long Island
Presbytery of South Louisiana
Presbytery of Santa Fe
Presbytery of West Jersey
Cuba Mission Network
The Cuba Mission Network is among more than 40 networks that connect Presbyterians who share a common mission interest. Most participants are involved in mission partnerships through congregations, presbyteries or synods. Network members come together to coordinate efforts, share best practices and develop strategies. The next Cuba Partners Network meeting will be held in New Orleans, October 14-17, 2015.
For information contact: Glen Dickson or Jo Ella Holman
2015 meeting date: October 14-17, New Orleans
The Thoughtful Christian, produced by Westminster John Knox Press, is a web-based curriculum series on contemporary issues, Bible and theology, Christian living and more. Included is “Understanding Cuba” (two sessions). The studies cost $5 per session.
Learn more about Cuba
Visit the BBC country profile.
See the 2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 64
Living Waters for the World (LWW), the mission project of the Synod of Living Waters (PCUSA) has been working in Cuba since 2009. As of August 2014, there are 22 LWW water purification systems in operation in Cuba serving churches and other faith-based entities and their surrounding communities. For information, visit our website http://www.livingwatersfortheworld.org
I went to Cuba in April 2013. It was an incredible travel experience. While in Cuba, had an opportunity to talk with "official" Cubans who were extremely welcoming, and were not only willing, but eager, to talk with us Americans. What was to be a 90 minute visit turned into three hours. I have spoken to four different groups about my experience, since I have returned home. I have a fifth presentation this week to a senior university group. The last group was through Extended Studies of the Univ. of Nevada, Reno; there was much interest and excitement from the audience, with lots of questions and comments. Two Hispanic people spoke with me afterward and were excited to know that there are Americans who are willing to serve as advocates for the Cuban people, and encouraged me to continue. With all of the changes happening so quickly in Cuba, I plan to visit again next year. Since I am a lifelong Presbyterian,an Elder, and have served on all fourlevels of PCUSA government in various positions, including the PHP International grants and joining Hands, I would be overjoyed to travel with a group of like-minded Presbyterians.