HISTORY OF CUBA MINISTRY

HISTORY OF CUBA MINISTRY

WANT TO KNOW SOME FACTS OF THE METHODIST CHURCH IN CUBA AND OUR CURRENT CUBA MINISTRY?

Methodism took root in “fertile though troubled soil” in Cuba during the last years of the Spanish/American war in the late 1800’s. when the Florida Conference of the Methodist Church South commissioned 2 Cuban pastors living in Key West to open a mission in a Havana hotel,

After the war, American missionaries began to expand the work that had been faithfully begun, through the generosity of the Methodist Church in the U.S., and specifically the Florida Conference. The means were made available to expand the work across the 600 mile island. It became evident that the destiny of Cuban Methodism was linked to the destiny of Florida Methodism. In 1968 Bishop Armando Rodriguez was elected the first bishop of the now autonomous church. He served through 22 years of great crises for the Cuban church. By the triumph of the Castro revolution of 1959, there were 53 US missionaries, with a growing number of Cuban ordained clergy. By 1960, 9,000 Cubans professed Methodist Christianity. When the United States severed relations with Cuba in 1961, all missionaries had to leave, and 95% of the ordained Cuban clergy found sanctuary in the US, mostly in Florida. Churches were suppressed from all activities except worship in houses of worship. Because of the U.S embargo on Cuba, in 1963, the Board of Missions of the Methodist Church was forced to cut off the support funds to the Cuban church, a sum that consisted of 60% of the conference budget

The Methodist Women and Youth sustained the church as they trained lay pastors to fill the vacancies of the absent ordained clergy. By 1991, the government began loosening its grip on the churches. UMVIM teams from the US began to send teams to restore the deteriorated churches. People of faith were allowed to hold jobs and send their children to school. Home prayer and Bible meetings in homes flourished.

Today, a miracle has taken place. Currently there are over 500 appointed churches (mostly house churches as the government has not allowed construction of new temples). There are over 700 missions; more than 60,000 Cubans worship in Methodist churches and missions

In December, 1994 Bishop H. Hasbrouck Hughes visited the Methodist Church in Cuba. Cubans gravitated to him with great interest for re-establishing the relationship with the Florida Conference – interrupted for many years. The meeting of Cuban leaders with Cuban Americans was a huge success as the mostly Cuban exiled community embraced the Cuban church leaders with open arms.

In July, 1996 the ministry, then named Cuba/Florida Covenant, formed a Task Force which convened to define the development of the ministry with the support of Bishop Cornelius Henderson. This Task Force developed sister partnerships between the Cuba district and churches for the purpose of prayer and building relationship with Cuban brothers and sisters.The draft of the Cuba/Florida Covenant was presented and ratified at the 1997 Florida Annual Conference by both the Cuba and Florida Bishops signing the Covenant document.

More next week about how these relationships are formed and maintained, such as the sister relationship between Wesley MUMC and Duranona and Media Luna Methodist Churches.

PICNIC IN THE PARK

PICNIC IN THE PARK

Please join us Sunday, July 21 for a Picnic in the Park sponsored by Promiseland for the whole church! After the worship service, we will meet at Upper Bay Park Shelter 3. Chicken will be provided. Please bring a dish to share. Please note available picnic tables will be limited. Please bring folding chairs and picnic blankets. An additional tent will be set up in addition to the shelter.

Pastor Ontonio and his family will be joining us. This will be a good opportunity to mingle with our new pastor and his family!

Please RSVP here!

WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

As we come near the end of our learning about how Jesus identifies, it is important for us to make sure we get the main thing right. We are to become like Jesus. I have been referring to Philippians 2 each week now for several weeks and thought I would share the text this week in full.

“Jesus, being in very nature God,
Did not count equality with God something to be grasped,
But made himself empty.
Taking the very nature of a servant,
Being made in human likeness,
And being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled himself
And became obedient to death—
Even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
And gave Him the name that is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
In heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
To the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:6-11

The cross is both humility and obedience. Sorrow leads believers to both humility and obedience. When we find obedience in sorrow, we take our place with Jesus and will too be exalted.

~ Grace and Peace ~
Ernie

WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

We have learned such a valuable spiritual lesson these last few weeks based on Revelation 5. When we expect to see a Lion take the scrolls of justice, we turn and see the Lamb of God “looking as if it had been slain” reach up and take the scrolls instead. And it is the Lamb who pronounces judgment against the nations and people who would not humble themselves and become obedient and submit to the cross. This represents the end of something. At the incarnation, Almighty God empties himself of His power and becomes a servant to humanity, becoming obedient unto the death of a cross. He does this out of love, his love has a softer voice, a call unto humility and relationship that creates a sense of awe and respect and honor, not fear and judgment.

When the Lamb takes the scroll of justice, it ends the time of authority and reengages the realm of the Almighty power of God. Those who did not listen to the voice of love have convicted themselves and are subject now to the power of God. There is no more room to wiggle. Mercy ends. That realm is finished. It would behoove us to listen to the voice of God while he calls us into relationship.

Sunday, we asked how we can know we are listening. Is there a way to know we are being rebellious? The short answer we learned is, yes, there is a way to know. We know we are in rebellion by our secrets. I am pretty good at understanding an audience and it seems to me nearly all of us got that statement. We understand there are no secrets with God. Then I revealed to us all what to do with our secrets. I openly confessed what God and I have been working on for ten years. I like being right. The problem with being right and knowing you are right is it is arrogant. It breaks relationship. It makes others feel cast aside. And here is the kicker, especially if you are right.

Now we move into the deeper truth of the Lamb taking the scrolls of justice…this week I share how I came to grow out of this. Here is a short teaser: “sorrow is fertile ground for humility.”

~ Grace and Peace ~
Pastor Ernie

WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT

What is the difference between what I want and what I need? God makes a promise to provide for me everything I need but not everything I want. I have a tendency to want things that make me comfortable, secure, happy. God does not promise those things. I would think maybe I need food, water, shelter. Yet those are only things I need for this life, again, not what was promised. What, then, do I need?

God makes it clear He is more interested in my spiritual growth than my physical well-being. Its not that he does not care about my health, He does and so should I. He cares more about my soul. I like to eat donuts, but they are really not good for my body if I eat them every day. It would benefit my body to eat more greens. Everyone knows that by now. Yet we are the most obese society in all of history. I can only conclude we are ignoring what we know to be true and putting more emphasis on what we want than on what we need. Cancer is not the number one cause of death in America. It is diabetes
from unhealthy eating habits, myself included.  We all know this yet Dunkin Donuts always has a line.

\If this is true of our bodies, what are we doing to our souls? It is no wonder we are morally and spiritually vacant as a society. So my word of encouragement for the day: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12. How is your soul working out? Just a word of encouragement. Get at it.

Grace and Peace ~
Pastor Ernie

PASTOR APPRECIATION BANQUET

PASTOR APPRECIATION BANQUET

We are very grateful to Pastor Ernie for all he has done at Wesley during his time here. He came to Wesley Church in 2013 and is the longest serving pastor the church has had. We will miss him greatly but are excited to see how God continues to use Pastor Ernie in his new placement in Homosassa. Please join us June 23rd as we celebrate and thank Pastor Ernie for his 11 years of service at Wesley Church. Immediately after the Sunday Service we will have a banquet in the FLC Fellowship Hall. The church will provide the meats and drinks. Please bring a side dish to share with others.

Our new pastor Ontonio Christie will be joining us in July. He is a Licensed Local Pastor
from the Alabama-West Florida Conference. His previously served as associate pastor
at Fairhope UMC in Fairhope, AL and St. Andrews UMC in Panama City, FL. He
graduated from Edna Manley College of Visual Arts, and Columbia Theological
Seminary. He worked as a graphic designer, web designer, and director of
communications before pursuing ministry full-time. His gifts for ministry include
preaching, communication, leadership, adaptability, and creativity. Ontonio is married to
Kadine, who works as a writer, and together they have three children, Zahara,
Markolee, and Zuri. Pastor Ontonio and his family are excited to begin this new chapter
at Wesley Memorial UMC.

Please be in prayer for Pastor Ernie, Pastor Ontonio, and Wesley as we embark on this transition.