Cuba

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Rev. Rogers:

I read in the "AME Herald" where Bishop Bryant visited Cuba as part of a Methodist evangelizing team. If he files a report on his trip will you share it with us? I have been fascinated by Cuba ever since I saw the documentary 'The Buena Vista Social Club.'

Brother Matthews probably has the information, but I believe the AMEs were active in Cuba some time ago? Is this correct? Thanks.

-- Anonymous, January 20, 2004

Answers

Yes, the AME church was once present in Cuba. Jose Grinon, a news anchor for Fox News in Houston, had family ties tot he AME church there. IF I can find more specifics, I'll post.

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004

I have been 'fascinated' with Cuba since January 1, 1959 that inauspicious date when Fidel Castro & Che Guevvaro teamed together to overthrow the Bastista government in Havana. Despite Castro's economic mismangement, political repression and his willingness to serve as a pawn of Khruchev's plan to initiate thermonuclear warfare (Cuban Missle Crisis), I do support a lifting of the economic embargo against Cuba. My economic view is not popular in a state like Florida where the Cuban-American prescence is very influential. But, I fret not. The Law of Comparative Advantage (Free Trade), much like common sense, is hard to repeal. Wasn't one of the mid 20th Century AME Bishops, Joseph Gomez, of Cuban descent? Was the AME church in existence during the pre-Castro era? Inquiring minds would like to know. QED

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004

Mary, I cannot speak for Bishop Bryant, but I will email him tonight and ask if he will give us an update for the Herald. I heard from him two days ago and he had just gotten back.

Thank you for the suggestion, it would indeed be a great story, I will also contact Bishop DeVeaux tonight also.

Thanks for the suggestion mary.

-- Anonymous, January 22, 2004


Thank you brother Jerryl, Dickens and Rev. Rogers. It would be wonderful if we could connect with our sisters and brothers in Cuba. Also, I agree with Bill in ending US sanctions against Cuba. I believe the Castro regime would die a natural death.

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2004

I know very little about the involvement of the A.M.E. Church in Cuba, but I have read some brief and sketchy information on it.

It appears in the late 1890s the African Cubans in Santiago, Cuba contacted the Church for assistance and requested that the A. M.E. Church establish a presence there. The first Missions to Cuba were then established under Bishop Smith, who oversaw their work, but the number of member joining the church in Cuba remained small.

When Bishop Henry McNeal Turner was assigned to Georgia he sought to establish Churches beyond the Continental USA and Haiti where his predecessors had taken it. Thus, he obtained a resolution of the Atlanta Georgia Conference to send missionaries to the Continent of Africa to establish churches there. He also sent a Presiding Elder to Cuba as well. In three years the Presiding Elder was reassigned duties in the US.

What the church encountered in Cuba was unlike any it had known before, even with the work it then had begun in Africa. The most apparent obstacles were those of language and finance. They had not expected the Afro-Cubans to speak only Spanish, while those assigned the work, spoke only English and knew no Spanish at all. Neither could they find a proper means to finance it. The racism in Cuba was akin to that found in the USA. US Businesses gave financial assistance to white Protestant Church Missionaries, but little or none to blacks. For two decades the reports to the General Conference on the work in Cuba were sporadic and the number of member reported was small.

With the Americanization of Cuba white Protestant Churches flourished and built schools there, but they discouraged and even prohibited dark-skinned Cubans from attending them. Somewhere in the late Nineteen Thirties, Bishop Ransom, who was present at the founding of the Niagara Movement and outspoken on racial issues, decided to put an end to this. He wrote to the Afro-Cubans stating that the Churchís mission was for them alone and that Negroid Cubans should organize themselves under the auspices and protection of the A.M.E. Church. Ransom communicated with Batista as well, but he was not as candid in his approach with him. As a result we took in our first significant and sizable membership there. It was our intent to organize schools as well.

While Ransomís efforts proved to be the most successful ones to date, cultural differences, racial discrimination and economic impoverishment of Afro-Cubans still left the Church far short of any significant gains and caused any further attempt to establish an AME presence to virtually cease. The overthrow of Batista and US sactions of Castro's Cuba also made it virturally impossible to continue our efforts there.

Cuba is listed in the Discipline under the Sixteenth Episcopal District. It has it own Annual Conference. Bishop DeVeaux is the Presiding Bishop but apparently there are presently no churches there.

By The Way Bill,

I believe Bishop Gomez was born in Trinidad. If my memory from Camp Baber is correct from talking to him.

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2004



Thank your brother Matthews for your information. Some of it was familiar, but other parts not. I had no idea the AMEs were in Cuba in the 1930s.

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2004

As promised, some additional detail: The AME Church in Cuba

-- Anonymous, February 16, 2004

Jerryl:

Thank you so much! There is a wealth of information there. Thanks again, and God bless.

-- Anonymous, February 17, 2004


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