Cuba is clearly in the midst of crises on many fronts - made clear by the protests of July 11th. Please click on the link to read a message from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Below is Bishop Griselda's perspective on the crisis. (English translation followed by original Spanish text)
CALL OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN CUBA TO THE BELOVED CUBAN PEOPLE
“Seek good and not evil, and you will live; so will be the truth what you say: that the Lord God Almighty is with you. Hate evil! Love good! Let justice flow like water, and honesty like an inexhaustible spring.
Amos, 5:14, 24.
Being an integral part of this people and country, our entire Church, women and men, laity, clergy and bishops make a call for Peace and Life in this crucial hour that the Cuban Homeland is going through.
On Sunday, July 11, protests took place in various cities of the country due to the difficult economic situation, along with the health crisis that our people are experiencing. The implementation of new Economic Regulations/Reforms at the beginning of this year, as well as other restrictive measures have aggravated the crisis that had been dragging on for a long time, reaching the extreme situation we are facing today. The permanent lack of basic food products and lack of medicines, among other misfortunes has generated uncertainty, frustration, a sense of being overwhelmed and despair. All of us are experiencing increasing emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual decline. The average salary has been dramatically devalued, made worse by the fact that the most important products are only offered in the new stores for foreign currencies. Electricity generating plants have gone out of operation due to various breakdowns, leading to power outages, which have only added more concern to the population in the middle of summer.
In the midst of so much darkness, we must admire the work of the scientists who, with such passion, were able to obtain vaccines for the relief of the people. And recognize the medical and paramedics who work day and night without rest and with almost no resources trying to save their countrymen, in the midst of the multiplication of contagion on scales never before foreseen.
On the other hand, the appearance and dissemination of new COVID strains has increased the number of people infected to a great extent, most unfortunately among girls and boys. The number of deaths has also increased dramatically.
All these issues formed the breeding ground to a great extent, for many citizens to express their discomfort and disagreement publicly in different cities across the country.
Expressing all concerns and frustration is the right of every citizen and every person. The right to freedom of expression in peaceful public demonstrations is a Human Right.
The Church is watching with great concern that spaces and opportunities are not being provided for people to civically express their feelings. As long as they are manifested in a peaceful and respectful framework.
And we make an urgent call that in no way gives rise to provocations, confrontations or any other excessive act that results in violence, aggression, offenses, humiliation, or loss of human life. This doesn't have to happen! That will never be a way forward.
Every Human Being is created in the image and likeness of God, which is why they have dignity and a sacred character. Life is the most precious gift.
And God urges that reason, sanity and responsibility prevail. The road must be built by all Cuban men and women. There will always be divergences, diverse opinions, different thoughts, there is the richness and integrity of being a collective People. It is necessary to raise the value of dialogue to seek understanding and ways of solving big issues. Likewise, the Church exhorts the pertinent Authorities to promote actions to contain all violence and achieve peace. The confrontation between Cubans is unacceptable.
All Cubans, from one end of this beautiful island to the other, have the same blood, soul and ethos that runs through their veins, which imprints their distinctive Cuban character. We are sisters and brothers forged on solid foundations, like the Cuban “who taught us to think”, the Priest and Master Félix Varela, who said: “There is no country without virtue, nor virtue with impiety”. And also molded on the thought of the Apostle José Martí of whom each and every Cuban is so proud, and who said: "Every true man must feel the blow that any man's cheek receives on the cheek."
The Church exhorts us to implore God for protection and strength in times of tribulation, for every home, every young person, girl and boy, for the adults and the elderly, for the sick and vulnerable, especially for those who have departed. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we can discern in hope the future path. He also makes a call to all who with sensitive hearts to gather resources and send for the suffering, especially for the Province of Matanzas.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we exhort all of our Cuban people: Amen el bien! May Justice and honesty flow like wáter - like an inexhaustible spring!
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forever. Amen.
+ Maria Griselda Delgado del Carpio
La Habana, 12 de julio del 2021.
LLAMADO DE LA IGLESIA EPISCOPAL EN CUBA
AL AMADO PUEBLO CUBANO:
“Busquen el bien y no el mal, y vivirán; así será la verdad lo que ustedes dicen: que el Señor, el Dios Todopoderoso está con ustedes. ¡Odien el mal! ¡Amen el bien!Que fluya como agua la justicia, y la honradez como un manantial inagotable. Amos, 5:14, 24.
Siendo parte integrante de este pueblo y país, toda nuestra Iglesia, mujeres y hombres, laicos, clérigos y obispos hacemos un llamado a la Paz y a la Vida en esta hora crucial que está atravesando la Patria Cubana.
El domingo 11 de julio en diversas ciudades del país tuvieron lugar actos de protesta por la difícil situación económica junto con la sanitaria que está viviendo nuestro pueblo. A partir de la implementación del Ordenamiento Económico, a principios de este año, así como otras medidas de carácter restrictivo que se han sumado a esta realidad, han agravado la crisis que se venía arrastrando desde mucho tiempo atrás, hasta llegar a situaciones límites en la actualidad. Ha generado incertidumbre, frustración, agobio y desesperación a partir de la permanente carencia de los productos básicos alimenticios y carencia de medicinas entre otros infortunios. Todos nosotros estamos experimentando un creciente deterioro emocional, mental, físico y espiritual. El Salario medio se ha visto devaluado dramáticamente, por otra parte los productos más importantes se ofertan solamente en las nuevas tiendas por divisas extranjeras. Las plantas generadoras de electricidad han salido de su funcionamiento por diferentes roturas dando lugar a cortes del suministro eléctrico, lo cual añadió más inquietud en la población en pleno verano.
En medio de tanta sombra, hay que admirar la labor de los científicos que con tanta pasión, pudieron obtener candidatos vacunales para alivio del pueblo. Y reconocer al personal médico y paramédico que trabajan día y noche sin descanso y casi sin recursos tratando de salvar a sus coterráneos, en medio de la multiplicación del contagio a escalas nunca antes previstas.
Por otro lado, la aparición y diseminación de las nuevas cepas ha acrecentado el número de personas contagiadas en gran medida, muy lamentablemente entre niñas y niños, así como el incremento de fallecimientos que hiere profundamente la sensibilidad humana.
Todo este conjunto de males fue el caldo de cultivo en gran medida, lo que dio lugar a que muchos ciudadanos expresaran su malestar e inconformidad públicamente en diferentes ciudades del país.
Expresar toda inquietud y frustración es un derecho de cada ciudadano y de cada pueblo. El derecho de la libertad de expresión en las manifestaciones públicas pacíficas es un Derecho Humano.
La Iglesia está mirando con mucha preocupación que no se faciliten los espacios y oportunidades para que las personas puedan expresar cívicamente sus sentimientos. Siempre y cuando se manifiesten en un marco pacífico y respetuoso.
Y hace un urgente llamado a que de ninguna manera se dé lugar a provocaciones, confrontaciones o cualquier otro acto desmedido que resulte en violencia, agresión, ofensas, humillación, y menos que cause pérdida de vidas humanas. ¡Esto no tiene que suceder! Ese no será nunca un camino a seguir.
Todo Ser Humano es imagen y semejanza de Dios, por lo cual tiene la dignidad debida y un carácter sagrado. La vida es el don más preciado.
Y exhorta a que prime la razón, la cordura y la responsabilidad. El camino debe ser construido por todos los cubanos y cubanas. Siempre habrá divergencias, opiniones diversas, diferentes pensamientos, ahí está la riqueza y la integralidad de ser un Pueblo. Es preciso poner en alto el valor del Diálogo para buscar el entendimiento y vías de solución. Asimismo exhorta a las Autoridades pertinentes a que promuevan acciones para contener toda violencia y alcanzar la paz. Es inadmisible el enfrentamiento entre cubanos.
Unos y otros, desde una punta a la otra de esta bellísima isla tienen la misma sangre, alma y ethos que corre por sus venas, que imprime su carácter de cubanía tan distintivo. Somos hermanas y hermanos forjados en sólidos cimientos, como del cubano “que nos enseñó a pensar”, el Sacerdote y Maestro Félix Varela, quien dijo: “No hay Patria sin virtud, ni virtud con impiedad”.
Y asimismo moldeados sobre el pensamiento del Apóstol José Martí del que tanto se enorgullece toda y todo cubano, y quien expresó: “En la mejilla ha de sentir todo hombre verdadero el golpe que reciba cualquier mejilla de hombre”.
La Iglesia exhorta a implorar a Dios, amparo y fortaleza en los tiempos de tribulación, por cada hogar, cada joven, niña y niño, por los adultos y ancianos, por los enfermos y vulnerables, en especial por los que han partido. Bajo la guía del Santo Espíritu podamos discernir en esperanza el camino futuro. Asimismo hace un llamado a todas y todos quienes con corazones sensibles puedan reunir recursos y enviar para los sufrientes, especialmente para la Provincia de Matanzas.
En el nombre de Jesucristo, exhortamos a todo nuestro pueblo cubano: ¡Amen el bien! ¡Que fluya como agua la Justicia y la honradez como manantial inagotable!
La Gracia de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, el amor de Dios y la comunión del Espíritu Santo sea con todos nosotros, ahora y siempre. Amén.
+Maria Griselda Delgado del Carpio
La Habana, 12 de julio del 2021
From the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe:
Our Episcopal congregation in Tbilisi, Georgia, is a witness against the violence which has been launched against LGBTQ+ persons in the Republic of Georgia. Bishop Mark Edington and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry have issued a statement regarding these persecuted brothers and sisters. (read the ENS article) Please pray for our Tbilisi congregation, for their safety and their continued witness.
Mark EdingtonJuly 8 at 1:50 AM ·
Most people I meet back in the wider church don’t know their church is present in Europe — let alone Tbilisi. If they are, they often have the mistaken idea we are just comfortable gatherings of overseas Americans.
We’re nothing like that. We’re the living, witnessing work of our loving, liberating, life-giving God in places where faith itself is ridiculed by secularism, and tolerance is rejected by hate. We’re figuring out how to be the church where being the church is hard work — sometimes dangerous work.
Episcopal Congregation in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia - Anglican Communionis not a “gay church.” It is a church — a serving, sending, worshiping community of faithful Christians, some of whom are LGBT folks and some of whom are not, but all of whom are witnessing to the relentless, onward march of God’s accepting, reconciling love for all people. I am proud to be counted a Christian among them.
For now, their congregation is closed — out of fear of attacks. But they will continue to meet — and we will continue to stand with them. And they will reopen. #episcopal
BELOVED SISTERS AND BROTHERS, CLERGY, LAY PEOPLE, FRIENDS AND FAMILY ALONG WITH THE ENTIRE DIOCESE OF CUBA:
I am asking you today to join in a Prayer Vigil to pray for the COVID situation in the world and in our country.
Today we're experiencing a moment of multifaceted crises that are accentuated by the contagion of lethal coronavirus strains spreading across the population. It is of utmost importance that together, holding each other, we stand before God to pray with contrite hearts and on our knees. The serious health situation in Cuba is shaking us in such a way that we need the kind of strength and serenity which can only come from on High from God, in Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Let's ask jointly pray for His mercy for the sick who are suffering from the contagion, especially for the children, and for the aftermath they will have to endure.
Let us pray for those who have lost their lives due to the terrible contagion. And the devastated families that are left behind.
Let us pray for the medical and paramedic staff working intensely and tirelessly at clinics and hospital centers.
Let us pray for all who are working in one way or another to help those in our community who are suffering.
Let us pray for those who are experiencing challenging days due to the increasing economic havoc here, due to the pandemic, and due to the on-going threat of natural disasters.
Let us pray for any other needs of the families in our community.
We will begin our prayer vigil starting today through Saturday July 31th It will take place every night from 9:00 pm until midnight. I am asking each family or community to join in prayer every night for a moment during these 3 hours daily. God be with us all - granting us His Mercy at all times and in all places. With Love, Hugs and Blessings
Friday, July 9, 2021.
The Very Rev. Dr. Caroline Carson, Dean, Atlantic Convocation, Diocese of NJ
Rector, Holy Innocents' Beach Haven
I know many are concerned about the Covid-19 crisis in India. Indeed, the world has been watching. I thought I'd share something I'm doing to respond that might be of interest. If anyone has any questions or would like to review and join the effort, feel free to contact me.
I’m an international board member of The Rambo Committee, which supports the Christian Hospital Mungeli (CHM) in the rural and poorest state of Chhattisgarh, known as “The Rice Bowl.” I did some mission work with the hospital and the English grade school there for many months in 2014 and 2015 and have stayed in touch.
What am I doing? It began as simply boosting their social media posts and establishing an online presence for them. I run their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and help with website (not much lately though!) It has morphed into spreading hope, raising money for needed vaccines, and holding Zoom meetings with the new doctors and staff of the hospital. Though a world apart, we work together to raise awareness in the tribal villages surrounding CHM and have generated plans to hold vaccine fairs, similar to how our Diocese of New Jersey has tried to ensure everyone can have access to a vaccine if they choose to have it. Nationally, there has been conflicting information about the efficacy of vaccines and this has done harm, confusing the people. I also learned that while many vaccines are free, those are given from the government to state hospitals and not to rural, mission hospitals. So, we have been working with churches connected to Global Ministries to raise awareness and funding for the COVAX and Remdesivir vaccines.
CHM’s success in fighting Covid has also been due to the availability of Remdesivir, a very expensive treatment. The cost is $60 USD for a single treatment; the average Covid patient requires about 6 treatments at $366 USD. Most patients do not have the ability to pay leaving the hospital to cover this very expensive but crucial drug. CHM has been given government approval to administer the Rapid Antigen test at a cost to the hospital of approximately $4 USD per test. While a Covid vaccine is free, the cost to take it to the most rural areas is not.
If you would like to donate to help Christian Hospital Mungeli fight Covid, you may do so knowing 100% of your tax exempt donation to the Rambo Committee will go to providing immediate financial support to CHM.
Critical supplies of oxygen also run out in many places across India. CHM can treat many Covid patients a day in their ICU, due in part to having the only oxygen generator in the region, funded by a USAID / ASHA award to Rambo Committee, Inc. A new doctor on staff, Dr. Sapan Kumar, is a Pulmonologist and has been a crucial lifesaver there.
So, the little bit that I can do is just that, but oftentimes, I find that those little “drops-in-a-bucket” end up creating a wave of difference in many lives. It’s also a nice thing to simply be connected to a place that is dear to my heart and see the new beginnings forming there out of love for people. Certainly, there are other and larger organizations, but this is what I do.
A Story from Dr. Sapan The Face of Covid in Rural India
This is the story of Mr. Uttam, who is a father of five and was admitted in Christian Hospital Mungeli. He was referred to us with a saturation of 34% on 7 lit/min Oxygen. Mr. Uttam was started on non-invasive ventilation on which he was managed for more than two weeks. Non-invasive ventilation was discontinued once he improved, but after two days, his breathlessness increased. Non-invasive ventilation couldn't be restarted since it has already been used on a sick patient. By the grace of God, after a day we received our first set of BIPAP (a kind of small ventilator). There was a delay in transportation of the machines due to the lockdown and the tropical cyclone but we finally received them just on time for Mr. Uttam. He was soon started on the machine with which he felt much relief. Currently he is improving on BIPAP. We wish him a speedy recovery. The new BIPAP machines are an important part of treatment of moderate and severe Covid patients and we wish to help many more like Mr. Uttam with the machine.
We also want to thank all those who have constantly kept us in their prayers without which we wouldn't have been able to do the good deeds.
Dr. Priyamvada and Dr. Sapan
St. Paul’s Community Health Clinic—a ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Camden and the Diocese of New Jersey—will receive more than $11,000 in a United Thank Offering (UTO) grant this year.
The focus of the granting process this year was “Recovering with Love and Gratitude: An Episcopal Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Local Contexts.” UTO Grants are a ministry of the Episcopal Church.
“I am deeply grateful to the United Thank Offering for their decision to award a grant in support of the St. Paul’s Camden Community Health Clinic which represents a joint project with the Rutgers School of Nursing,” said the Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. “This is a ground-breaking project that represents the kind of vital partnership that can have real impact in a community with significant challenges and help us to carry out the mission and ministry that Christ calls all of us to.”
In the economically challenged community of Camden, St. Paul’s Church has been working for decades to feed the hungry through its Sunday food programs, serving two hundred people for breakfast and dinner each week. Although the idea for a health clinic was conceived late in 2019 as part of a more holistic approach in meeting the needs of the poor and homeless in downtown Camden, the pandemic and its disproportionate toll on the poor gave it special urgency.
Partially funded by a Becoming Beloved Community grant, the clinic—operated in cooperation with the Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden—opened on the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church property in January.
“The creation of a health clinic offered our parish a way to meet the most basic health needs of the very poor in our part of the city,” said St. Paul’s rector, the Rev. Z. Mark Smith.
UTO Board President Sherri Dietrich said, “Choosing which grant applications to fund and not fund is always difficult, but during this extraordinary time of suffering in the global Covid-19 pandemic we had to prioritize mere survival over thriving. As always, if we’d had more money to grant, we would have been delighted to fund more of the excellent grant projects submitted, so please continue to be thankful and make your thank offerings to UTO.”
The award of $11,065.18 will be used for start-up and continuing costs for the year. This includes durable and single-use supplies, as well as supervision of the nursing students. The grant will also give the parish and the medical community some time to consider how the new space can best be used in a future post-COVID environment.
“We are very grateful for the support of UTO, Bishop Stokes, and our partners at the School of Nursing at Rutgers for their belief that we can and should address inequities in access to basic medical care,” said Rev. Smith.
St. Paul’s Church, Sea Cow’s Bay, in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands is a congregation that is small in human resources but with a broad reach. An underpinning belief is that family wellness is an important aspect of Christian charity and a sign of community wellness.
Amid the strenuous impact of COVID-19, members of the Youth Fellowship continue to keep hope alive and have resumed in-person meetings, gathering on the second, third, and fourth Friday of each month.
Youth Fellowship is classified as a safe, sacred space where young people gather and engage in many activities that help to mold them for both the present and the future. The format places youth in the lead, organizing their weekly activities and fundraisers with the support of shadowing leaders.
Since resuming meetings in January, youth have learned or honed the skill of baking and capitalized on it to produce most of the items for a fundraising bake sale.
The Youth are on the move - to God be the glory! Great things He has done and will continue to do in the lives of these awesome youth! Stay posted for more wonderful things.
St. Paul's, Sea Cow's Bay has launched a new outreach ministry. On Saturday, March 6th the congregation delivered soup to 39 people from its newly-launched soup kitchen. Although some of those receiving were members of the congregation, the majority were from the wider community. The outreach is a collaboration between the Bishop's Committee and the ECW. Initially, deliveries will be made on the first and third Saturdays of the month, but it is hoped to increase the number of days as soon as is feasible. Support for the ministry comes from members of the congregation who are invited to make cash or in-kind donations. Members also contribute by purchasing a bowl of soup, the money for which goes into buying supplies. One exciting development is that, since the initiative was posted on the Facebook pages of the church and of its vicar and a member, a small local restaurant has expressed an interest in contributing to the effort.
This latest venture is in addition to a pantry which St. Paul's officially launched late last year to assist persons in the community who are food poor. The pantry formalizes the assistance which the congregation has been giving to a number of individuals and families since the British Virgin Islands was devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. Their situation has worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the loss of jobs for some and reduced work hours for others. St. Paul's, SCB is committed to assisting wherever it can as it lives out its mission of welcome, worship, and service.
The Parish Congregation of St. Peter in St. Croix in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands on Monday March 8th, 2021 celebrated its 51st anniversary as a congregation. Founded in the year 1970, the parish began out of a need to engage and to provide spiritual support for persons residing in the central portion of the island. With two churches situated on what may be considered the further eastern and western areas of the island, St. John and St. Paul respectively, and Holy Cross Episcopal in close proximity to St. Paul, many felt that those persons residing between these congregations were somewhat neglected. The late Fr. David Henry, along with a number of concerned Episcopalians and with the assistance of conscientious donors, joined to begin worshiping in borrowed premises until a suitable plot of land was donated which now houses the beautiful structure!
There are many memories that continue to be cherished by the congregation, which stands at about 180 regular members. Unfortunately, due to the current pandemic Covid-19 virus, it was not possible to engage in the type of open activities of celebration that had been envisioned, a repeat of the condition that hampered the 50th anniversary in 2020. However, the resilience and grateful nature of the congregation demanded an observance falling within the protocols and guidelines governing the current situation and a service of Evensong was held in the church building. The Rev. Fr. Alric H. Francis, Sr, conducted the service and, in a brief homily, reminded and challenged the congregation on both the church’s Mission Statement, and Theme.
Mission Statement: "St. Peter Episcopal Church exists to experience the fullness of God's love and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. We pledge to support individuals of all ages in their relationship with God through ministries of worship, Christian education, youth and adult programs, fellowship, and community outreach!"
Theme: “Moving from maintenance to Mission!”
Members were encouraged to live out the mission statement with an evangelical purpose and approach and to find creative ways of communicating with the community at large, especially during the time of restrictions we are experiencing. In addition, there was a call to pay special focus to people, especially the unchurched, the seniors, and youth, thus avoiding paying too much attention to maintaining the physical buildings and neglecting our mission to the masses.
The Vestry and congregation give thanks to God for his unfailing love, blessings, and guidance, and pledge to trust Him for continued sustenance in the years ahead.
Attending the service were four (4) of the original members whose pictures appear below.
The Rev Richard Easterling (second from the left above) had been in Florence for less than a month when he attended a noteworthy televised event. On the chilly evening of January 17th in the Florence Baptistery the signing ceremony for the Council of Christian Churches of Florence occurred. Two representatives from each of 10 Florentine churches were present. The signatory churches were as follows: Roman Catholic, Apostolic, Baptist, Church of England, Episcopal, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Swiss Reformed and Waldensian/Methodist.
For this ceremony, in Covid times, the signatories were seated. Well- spaced out, on a front row, with their fellow-representatves behind them.
A table was placed centrally at the front and signatories were called up, one at a time, by Marco Bontempi, Secretary of Ecumenismo di Firenze, to sign on behalf of their church. Then, in turn, each church gave a short reading, either biblical or literary, in Italian. Those whose language was not primarily Italian read in 2 languages. As this event took place a day before the start of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which this year has the theme from John 15 of God's love to us and our love for others, I read George Herbert 's "Love Bade me Welcome "in both English and an Italian translation.
The video of this event will be shown during the last meeting of the Week of Prayer at the La Pira Centre. Because of the pandemic however, it was decided to show videos of meetings on-line during the week. Our contribution will be shown on Thursday 21st. (Contributed by Maria Makepeace)
This article is from the January 26, 2021 newsletter of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe. The whole issue of the newsletter was focused on ecumenical events around Europe. Read the whole issue >
Bishop of the Virgin Islands, The Rt. Rev. E. Ambrose Gumbs, D.D., has announced his retirement effective May 31, 2021. The announcement, which was made by letter on December 31st , was originally to be delivered at the Annual Diocesan Convention which was postponed from July because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that a Provisional Bishop will be identified to oversee the diocese until the election of a new diocesan.
Bishop Gumbs was consecrated as the fifth bishop of the Virgin Islands on June 11, 2005, after serving seventeen years as a priest.
Meanwhile, The Rev. Canon Sandye Wilson has joined the diocese to serve as Interim Priest-in-Charge of the Cathedral Church of All Saints. She succeeds The Rev. Hayden Crawford, whose term ended at the end of December.