The Canadian Primate, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, said he witnessed “great hope” during his annual visit to the Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba, Feb. 3 to 10. He and a delegation of Canadian staff attended the church’s diocesan synod in Havana, and then visited several parishes in the central eastern part of Cuba.
2011 is a year of change in the Cuban church. They are led by a new diocesan bishop, the Right Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, who was installed in November 2010. Over the past several months she has led a process of cross-country consultation to develop a new three-year ministry plan, which was adopted at synod on Feb. 5.
The Canadian church has helped provide leadership to the Cuban church since 1967 when deteriorating Cuban-American relations led to a rift between the Cuban church and the U.S. Episcopal Church. Since then, the Cuban church has been overseen by the Metropolitan Council of Cuba (MCC). Currently MCC members are Archbishop Fred Hiltz (chair), Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church (USA), and Archbishop John Holder, Primate of the Church in the Province of the West Indies.
“It’s very important to honour our historic relationship,” said Archbishop Hiltz at the close of the recent Cuban trip. “It’s also very important at this time of transition in leadership that we try to walk with them. It’s very much a ministry of accompaniment and my sense from this trip is that the Cuban church is looking for this.”
The eastern parish tour was a way of living out this ministry of accompaniment. The Canadian delegation visited six Cuban churches and saw a wide variety of worship styles, buildings, and local leaders. In Bermeja, the delegation met a growing congregation that meets in a dilapidated building. In Itabo, the Canadians saw a lively community garden that has been cultivated around the local Episcopal church.
In 2012, the Primate is considering a longer roadtrip to visit more Episcopal parishes across Cuba.
Other members of the 2011 Canadian delegation were General Secretary the Ven. Michael Pollesel, Global Relations Coordinator Andrea Mann, and Senior Editor Ali Symons, who blogged during the trip. Her blog includes profiles of Cuban church leaders and Canadian impressions of the visit. A photo gallery is also available.
The Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba includes more than 10,000 members in approximately 40 congregations.
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