Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, returned from Cuba where he represented the Metropolitan Council of Cuba at the annual synod of the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba in February.
The Metropolitan Council is chaired by the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, who has overseen the church in Cuba since it separated from The Episcopal Church in 1967. It is also comprised of the U.S. presiding bishop and the primate of the West Indies.
The council normally meets just before the synod in Cuba, but because it coincided with the recent meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion in Egypt, it met earlier and sent Mr. Pollesel to Cuba as its representative.
“One of the main issues (Cuban churches) are dealing with is one that is pretty common in Cuban society and that is just being able to obtain materials for the upkeep of their church buildings,” Mr. Pollesel said.
“Because of the (U.S.) blockade, materials are very scarce,” he said, noting that this ongoing problem was magnified by the damage done by Hurricane Ike, which hit Cuba in September, 2008.
Grace Church in Milton, Ont., has run a program called Coins for Cuba for the past few years to collect money for the diocese in Cuba and is now looking into the feasibility of sending building materials from Canada.
A proposal to divide the diocese into two, which would ease travel difficulties for the bishop, is still being considered. Mr. Pollesel said there was also a discussion about electing a new diocesan bishop.
Bishop Miguel Tamayo of Uruguay was appointed on an interim basis five years ago by the Metropolitan Council. Due to various tensions, Cuba has not elected its own diocesan bishop in 18 years.