Welcome Home, Cuba!! – Rena Turnham

 

Photo Courtesy of Episcopal News Service
“I feel the breath of the Holy Spirit. Thank you, everyone, for the support right now, but really for the support all these years,” Cuba Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio said in Spanish through an interpreter when addressing the House of Bishops. She asked for all to remember generations past “who’d suffered but always hoped we’d return to the church.”

The 79th General Convention voted unanimously in both houses to readmit the Episcopal Church of Cuba as a diocese by passing Resolution A238, after more than 50 years of separation brought about by a decision stemming from of the House of Bishops in the wake of the Cuban Revolution.  The Diocese of Cuba is on its way to joining Province II, which includes dioceses from New York, New Jersey, Haiti and the Virgin Islands.

There were several points in the legislative process when hope would swell and recede, and talk of reunification at the 80th General Convention in 2021 seemed the only way forward, finally ending in a crest of elation that this reunification would, in fact, happen now. And I was one of many who were part of that wave: a flood of tears and roars of applause coming from the floor of the House of Deputies. It was a highly emotional moment, a homecoming long overdue, and I was grateful to witness this historic moment.

The legislative process leading up to voting on the final resolution was all about figuring out a way to make reunification happen sooner rather than later, despite perceived obstacles brought forth in deep studies and opinions of our constitution and cannons.  It was an emotional roller coaster to witness this process: the testimony, the arguments, and then the eventual truth-speaking and perspective taking that came from within the legislative committee working to put forth resolutions on reunification.

Shortly before the vote in the House of Deputies, I spoke with a deputy from Vermont who was sitting behind me who was part of the legislative committee that wrestled with the issue.  She said that after a sleepless night and a unexpected tears, she knew that Spirit was at work and that they simply needed to make full reunification happen now. Thankfully, she was not alone in her experience, as others on the committee had been similarly moved.

Throughout the process, I was messaging my Episcopal Church in Cuba friends, as well as my fellow ECMN Cuban Ministry Commission members. Prayers were being lifted, far and wide!

Soon, I will be meeting as part of the ECMN Cuban Ministry Commission and I will be updating the other commission members on the details of reunification and we will discuss the potential impacts and opportunities that this will have on our work together with our Cuban partners, as well as emerging partnerships with other Episcopal congregations across the U.S.

I, along with other ECMN Cuban Ministry Commission members, have been inspired by the people of the Episcopal Church in Cuba. We have seen first hand how they serve not only the people in their congregations, but in their local communities.  And they do it without much support and they lack basic resources. And this all happens in a country under the rule of a communist dictator, where the needs of the people are great. We have much to learn from our Cuban brothers and sisters.

I feel not only joy about the reunification, but also great hope, as I begin to imagine what we can do together now that we are one church again. While there are still details to be sorted out around clergy pensions, and more, we can wholeheartedly move forward as a people reunited. As Bishop Griselda said, the Spirit’s movement was palpable, and I look forward to seeing how the Spirit guides us as we move forward together in Christ in this new area of cooperation and mutual ministry.

For more information about ECMN’s Cuban Ministry Commission or to inquire about how you can be involved, please contact me at: renat@ourcathedral.org.

For more about the historic reunification decision:
https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2018/07/10/bishops-vote-unanimously-to-admit-cuba-as-a-diocese/
https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2018/07/11/deputies-concur-with-bishops-in-unanimous-vote-to-admit-cuba/

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