Bishop Miguel Tamayo talks to the Anglican Journal. Photo: Art Babych
Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has often described Miguel Tamayo, the bishop of Uruguay and Cuba, as an “electrifying” speaker who can energize a crowd with a combination of passion and humour.
Delegates to the 2010 General Synod will have a chance to experience this when Bishop Tamayo’s preaches at tonight’s opening service at the Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax.
Bishop Tamayo, who will retire in November as bishop of Cuba after a seven-year term, and his wife, the Rev. Martha Lopez, have also been invited as partners to the triennial gathering of the Anglican Church of Canada’s governing body.
“To be a bishop of two dioceses at the same time is a big challenge as you can imagine…But I was able to do that with the help of God and with the support of the diocesan leaders. It was a good experiment,” he says of his upcoming retirement. Now that Cuba has a co-adjutor bishop, Griselda Delgado del Carpio, he adds, “I’m going to leave the diocese happy in her hands.”
Anglican Journal staff writer Marites N. Sison sat down for an interview with Bishop Tamayo hours before the service. Excerpts:
Q: What thoughts came to your mind when the primate (Archbishop Fred Hiltz) invited you to preach at the opening service of General Synod?
A: It was a big challenge because it’s a great honour to come and to preach for a big church, a friendly and companion church that the Anglican Church of Canada has been to us in Cuba and Uruguay…My being here shows companionship in mission. It is giving in some way what you’ve been doing for us throughout the years.
Q: Can you give a sense of what message you’re going to convey to General Synod?
A: When Bishop Fred talked to me about that invitation I think it was because we met in Cuba and he could see how I preach, how I address the people [laughs]. Maybe he was impressed because I am a very energetic person and maybe he felt he needs something of that to bring to the Canadian church…The gospel (reading for the service) is the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. I found [that] very interesting… to transmit a message for the Canadian church [which is] trying to find new ways of mission, new ways of being witness of the Gospel in the Canadian society and throughout the world. The Canadian church is present and supportive in many parts of the Anglican world. You need to renew that vision.
Q: You mentioned that the Cuban and Canadian churches have had a good relationship. What has made this possible?
A: Life is sometimes complicated. Sometimes different aspects of church life bring you together…or separate [you]. We were part of The Episcopal Church in the U.S.; the Cuban church is the result of the missionary work of The Episcopal Church. We were part of that province until 1968, when the Cuban church was put in an extra-provincial condition…(That) was the starting point of the strong presence of the Canadian church in the life of the church in Cuba. We were in a political situation which [resulted in] Cuba [becoming] very isolated. The Canadian church was like a bridge-communicating the isolated Cuban church to the rest of the Anglican Communion. That was a very big and important task; in some ways it still is an important circumstance.
Q: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the diocese of Cuba today?
A: Cuba is experimenting in terms of religious Christian mission; (it’s) a very important renewal. During the first years of the revolution it was very secular. The government has opened more space for the church’s work and there are a lot of opportunities to do mission right now…People are coming back to church. People are hungry and thirsty [for] God. The church has to respond.
Q: What message would you like to impart to the Canadian church about challenges it has been facing?
A: The life of the Communion has been affected, as we all know, by decisions made in certain provinces, including Canada, regarding human sexuality…We, in Cuba and Uruguay, think that we have to have more consideration for each other, show more love and appreciation for each other…and not do things that put the church at a big risk of breaking the bonds of affection. We become weary and sad when we see that in some parts of the communion they insist on doing things that has brought us into conflict…I understand that different provinces work in different societies and have different challenges…But we also have to think that we need, as good Anglicans, to be balanced…If we are a worldwide Communion we can’t think that what we do here or there will not affect others.