My brothers and sisters in Christ,
I write in response to
the return of the Diocese of Cuba
to The Episcopal Church after 52 years of lonely existence. When we debated
that accomplished this at General Convention, I rose and challenged the House of Bishops to help fund the pension gap for clergy who have served in the Diocese of Cuba since they were pushed out of this Church.
Clergy in Cuba have no access to state pensions or any equivalent of social security
for their service to the church is not recognized as employment, which is a function of the Cuban government. Their retirement requires enormous creativity and often means penury beyond what most Cubans already endure.
In spite of the fiscal realities, the church in Cuba continues to be immensely resourceful and creative.
has fostered a culture of strategic planning and missional engagement that will move and challenge anyone who has the opportunity to visit the diocese and her congregations.
- Gardens help to feed neighbors,
- the gospel is preached,
- clergy are trained in an ecumenical seminary,
- the diocese is effectively governed,
- and mission is engaged with baling wire and shoestrings.
- The famous old American cars of Havana, well-painted and maintained with hand-built parts, are an icon of Cuba’s resourcefulness.
- The cathedral and the local churches are similarly well-kept.
The one resource missing is money, particularly dollars, for the local population either barters or uses highly devalued Cuban pesos (tourists must use convertible pesos which cost far more than the local currency).
I write to ask you to offer a mite
to aid the aged and aging clergy of the church in Cuba.
A couple of bishops of smaller dioceses shared their plans with us at General Convention to raise their offerings to $1 per member. The pension gap is approximately $800,000. Given the current census of Episcopalians, the need amounts to about $0.50 per member of this Church.