In July of 2003 the Diocese received an email from Cuba, asking us to provide Episcopal oversight to a small group that wished to affiliate with the Reformed Episcopal Church. As none of the bishops in the USA could oversee Cuba because of the existing embargo in place, it fell to this diocese to respond, and we did.
The following spring, Bishop Charles travelled to Cuba again, this time with his wife Claudia. An inspection of the proceedings of the church group was done, and the bishop found things not at all to his liking, insomuch that he immediately dismissed the Pastor, re-formed the group and appointed another man, Ramon Torrente Batista, a former Pentecostal Pastor, to the position of Pastor. The church was named Iglesia San Marcos, consisting of the Pastor and eight people Subsequent visits to Moa proved that this decision was right, as the church grew, and is now a functioning parish of 195 people, under the able leadership of the Rev’d. William, who succeeded Ramon when he was made the Archdeacon of the Missionary District of Cuba..
Since 2006, the Bishop has been assisted in his Cuban travels by a translator named Walter Gonzales. Walter was member of the Nazarene Church, but transferred his membership to the REC in 2007 as a result of finding a deeper walk with the Lord through the help of the Book of Common Prayer and its services. In 2008 he was made a Lay Reader for the purpose of starting a house church in the City of Holguin. Like Reinaldo, Walter had also taken theological studies. Walter was also a High School teacher. He began his house group in October 2008, and by the spring of 2009 it had grown to number 45 people. In June 2009 the Bishop made Walter a Deacon with special Licence to celebrate Holy Communion.
Archdeacon Ramon is busy in downtown Havana, where he has moved with his wife Dalvis, the Deaconess of the District. They are in the midst of renovating a three story apartment in a large building, creating a church setting on the main floor, with classrooms for Sunday School and living quarters in the remaining space. This church is named El Alosento Alto (The Upper Room). Over eight familes oined this church when Ramon opened the doors in Easter 2010. This is the only church in a fifteen block area of the dountown of Havana.
At the conclusion of our 2010 visit, we had added two more churches, a second church in Florida named San Pablo de Florida, and El Aposento Alto (The Upper Room) located in Havana. we now have six churches, 3 priests, 3 deacons, 1 deaconess, and three Lay Readers. I baptized 31 new Christians, confirmed 48, blessed 19 marriages, ordained one man a priest and made two men deacons. Our total membership in Cuba now stands at 525 people. In Holguin this year, we managed to acquire a property that can be used as their church meeting place, allowing them to no longer have to squeeze over 30 people into an 11 by 11 foot room. This was made possible by a special donation from a member of Holy Trinity who the Lord had touched the night before we left Victoria. He instructed her to give us a cheque in the amount of $3000, exactly the amount needed to buy the building, cover the lawyer’s fees, and do minimal renovations to allow Ramiro and his wife to be able to live there.
And so, we invite any interested person who would like to help support this Mission to contribute to the Diocesan Mission Outreach Fund. Your cheques or money orders can be sent to the Diocesan Office. Thank-you