Global Ministries delegation spends five days in solidarity in Cuba
As the diplomatic relationship between the American and Cuban governments resumes, a group of executives and leaders of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) traveled to the island nation to lay the groundwork for better terms. The five-day trip, to meet with longstanding partners, supports an ecumenical effort by Christian leaders in both countries to lift a decades-old U.S. Trade Embargo.
The visit was, in part, about “humanitarian advocacy,” said the Rev. James Moos, executive minister of UCC Wider Church Ministries and one of seven people who visited Cuba from Oct. 2-7. “This is the first time we’ve had a delegation of this kind travel to Cuba in years,” Moos added. “There’s a feeling that Cuba has reached a historic opportunity and we want to help them as our countries continue to normalize diplomatic relationships.”
Part of that means welcoming a Cuban delegation to the United States in January 2016 on behalf of an ecumenical collaborative for advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. Then, in late 2016 or early 2017, a delegation of American and Canadian leaders of that ecumenical group would travel to Cuba for a follow-up visit.
“One of the questions is how we move forward, because the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba is not normalized yet,” Moos said. “The U.S. government has opened an embassy in Cuba, but no ambassador has been assigned, and the embargo from the Cold War are still in place. Those restrictions have separated families for generations and caused suffering.”
The UCC General Synod and Disciples General Assembly have previously called for normalizing the relationships and for removing the embargoes.
Moos was joined on the trip by the Rev. Julia Brown Karimu (co-executive of Global Ministries), the Rev. Angel Rivera-Agosto (area executive for Latin America and Caribbean), the Rev. David Gaewski (UCC New York Conference minister), the Rev. John Vertigan (UCC Florida Conference minister) and two Disciples of Christ regional ministers, the Rev. Juan Rodriguez (Florida) and the Rev. Cathy Myers Wirt (Oregon and Southwest Idaho).
Through Global Ministries, the UCC and Disciples of Christ share and has maintained relationships for decades with el Concilio de Iglesias de Cuba, Seminario Evangélico de Teologia en Matanzas Cuba, Iglesia Cristiana Pentecostal de Cuba, and Centro Memorial Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“We realize it is not just a one-way relationship because they have great gifts and insights, so we are really in solidarity with each other,” Moos said. “They’re aware of our struggle in this country with race relations… It would be a mistake to look at Cuba through the lens of the Cold War. One of the things they told us, and asked us to share on our return, was ‘Cuba is not as bad as you think we are, but we are not as good as we hope to be.'”
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