Servant Jesus’ alive in Cuba

Published March 1, 2006

Left: Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, incoming general secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada; Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras; Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; and Archbishop Drexel Gomez, primate of the West Indies, at a meeting of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the Canadian primate, in early February fulfilled his southernmost responsibility – chairing the Metropolitan Council of Cuba and presiding over the Episcopal Church of Cuba’s annual synod.

In addition, visiting from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6, he and several members of the national staff in Toronto met with government officials and the Canadian ambassador and visited projects supported by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.

The Metropolitan Council consists of the Canadian primate, the primate of the West Indies (currently Archbishop Drexel Gomez) and a bishop (now Bishop Lloyd Emmanuel Allen of Honduras). The Cuban church separated from the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. in 1967 due to political tensions with the United States.

“We must meet to receive the report of the diocesan bishop and review canonical changes,” commented Archbishop Hutchison in an interview after returning to Toronto. The synod, which met in Havana after the council meeting, voted unanimously to extend the term of Cuba’s diocesan bishop, Miguel Tamayo, who also oversees the church in Uruguay.

Bishop Tamayo was appointed by the Metropolitan Council for three years, beginning Jan. 1, 2004. Cuban Anglicans have been unable to elect a bishop for 15 years. The most recent electoral synod, in 2001, was deadlocked over such issues as candidates’ closeness to the government of President Fidel Castro and pastoral style.

Bishop Tamayo “is full of energy and warmth and a sense of humour. When necessary, he comes down very firmly and provides leadership. He feels they are not yet ready (for an episcopal election),” said Archbishop Hutchison.

The 97 members of synod also debated and voted upon minor changes to church law. “All this is enormously important in Cuba. It is one of the few places where Cubans can have a voice and vote. There is a full roll call at every session. It is a very important piece of their life,” Archbishop Hutchison said. Cuba has been ruled by the Communist Party since 1959.

Synod also acknowledged Canon Philip Wadham, General Synod’s regional co-ordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, who has been secretary of the Metropolitan Council for nine years and is retiring this year. The incoming general secretary in Canada, Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, is fluent in Spanish and will likely become Council secretary.

Archbishop Hutchison met with members of Cuba’s religious affairs department and thanked them for giving the diocese of Cuba permission to acquire a third vehicle. “The number of vehicles is limited in Cuba,” said Archbishop Hutchison. The Canadian church will be providing a car with funds from the national partnerships department and from the diocese of Niagara, which has a companion relationship with Cuba.

With about 10,000 Anglicans out of a population of 11.4 million, the church consists of about 45 churches and 25 clergy. The Primate’s Fund helps to support the Martin Luther King Center, an adult educational facility, and the Center for Dialogue and Reflection in Cardenas. Archbishop Hutchison said he got “a real insight into the work being done to help Cubans fend for themselves.” The Center for Dialogue includes a 35-hectare farm that produces 130 meals on wheels per day, and an AIDS hospice.

“The ethic of the Cuban church is one of service. All the pomp and circumstance of traditional Anglicanism takes second or third place to service, the servant Jesus, and they do that magnificently,” he said.


  • Solange DeSantis

    Solange De Santis was a reporter for the Anglican Journal from 2000 to 2008.

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