Mission, Ministry, and Motorcycles in Cuba

On June 26 and 27 Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, diocesan bishop of Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba enjoyed a pastoral visit with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and chair of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba. To celebrate this visit, we are highlighting some ways the ACC and IEC are living out meaningful partnership across differences in language, culture, and geography.

A Visit to Canada

In late June Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, diocesan bishop of Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba (IEC), enjoyed a busy and fulfilling visit with Anglican Church of Canada friends and partners.

First was a stop at General Synod for a pastoral visit with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Archbishop Hiltz also serves as the chair of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba, which provides oversight on matters of faith and order to the church in Cuba.

Following time with Archbishop Hiltz, Bishop Griselda travelled westward to Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre on the shores of Lake Shuswap in the British Columbia Interior. At Sorrento she served as a key resource person to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund’s (PWRDF) weeklong food security learning exchange, “Sharing Bread.”

The course gathered about twenty participants from all across Canada for intergenerational learning about local and global food security through prayer, worship in the outdoor chapel, workshops, and time working the Sorrento Centre Farm.

Bishop Griselda was accompanied by Ernesto Gonzalez of the Cuban Council of Churches, who also spoke about food security in Cuba against the changing landscape of imports and agriculture following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989.

A Digital Home

The IEC and Anglican Church of Canada recently partnered on another important project.  For a few years the church in Cuba struggled to find the resources and infrastructure to build a website. It had no digital home to showcase the work of the church, house basic information about the church and upcoming events, and disseminate pastoral messages.

With support from the General Synod web manager, the IEC designed and launched cuba.anglican.org. The new site is distinctly representative of the needs and character of the IEC, yet is hosted thousands of kilometers away on a server at Church House.

Mission, Ministry, and Motorcycles

The IEC serves the people of Cuba through 40 congregations and missions in four archdeaconries.  The church and its people, like so many in Cuba, continue to experience financial and material restraints as a result of trade blockade imposed by the USA in the early 1960s. With only 22 priests to cover the entire country, accessibility and transportation are major barriers to carrying out mission and ministry in the IEC.

In 2011, outgoing General Secretary Archdeacon Michael Pollesel responded to the challenges of ministry in Cuba in a very particular way. In lieu of a retirement gift, Pollesel raised money for the purchase of a motorcycle for the IEC. Through further contributions from Anglicans in Canada, three motorcycles now make the rounds in Cuba helping priests serve thousands across the island nation.

Through a translator, Bishop Griselda spoke to the positive impact the motorcycles have in carrying out ministry in the IEC. “The missionary and pastoral work is carried out in less time and allow us to visit more families and meet their needs,” she says, “Vehicles like these, link people, places and communities and allow us to keep going with our mission.”

Used mostly in the central and eastern regions of Cuba, the motorcycles help priests reach people and parishes that are otherwise accessible only through long journeys by public transit, expensive taxi rides, or hitchhiking.  The priests who use the motorcycles “have vast territories to serve, families to visit, sick people to assist, extreme situations to take care of, places of worship to open where the faith and the life of the church and the word of God is not known,” Bishop Griselda notes.

Bishop Griselda is eager to express gratitude for support from the Canadian church. “We are extremely grateful and thankful to our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Canada and their great sympathy to the Cuban church and its missionary work. Thank you for this great gift to Cuba.”

The IEC could use up to ten motorcycles to carry out its growing mission in Cuba. To support this important ministry, please visit the Gifts for Mission online catalogue.

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