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NCC delegation to Cuba meets with church leaders,
government officials, and imprisoned American


Havana, December 1, 2011 – An ecumenical delegation to Cuba led by National Council of Churches General Secretary Michael Kinnamon has met with Cuba Council of Churches leaders, students, and government officials during a busy visit here this week.

An Associated Press report Wednesday said Kinnamon and other members of the delegation met with Cuban President Raúl Castro following a meeting with Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor jailed for nearly two years for bringing restricted communications equipment to Cuba.

The AP report quoted Kinnamon, "Two of us went to see (Gross) today. We had a good conversation, and we're grateful for the government for enabling us to have that visit."

Gross, 62, has reportedly lost weight and is suffering from other ailments. "We have concerns for his health, but he's in good spirits," Kinnamon said, expressing hope that Gross will be freed on humanitarian grounds.

Gross was arrested Dec. 4, 2009, while working as a subcontractor on a democracy-building project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. Cuba considers such programs an affront to its national security, and last March he was sentenced to 15 years under a statute governing crimes against the state.

Gross has said he was working to help the island's small Jewish community improve its Internet access and was not a threat to the Cuban government.

The Agencia informative latinoamericana reported the delegation has also met with relatives of the so-called “Cuban Five,” who have been imprisoned in the United States since 1998. Kinnamon also met with relatives of the imprisoned Cubans during an earlier visit to Cuba. See

In addition to Kinnamon and his wife, Mardine Davis, members of the U.S. delegation include:

The Rev. John McCullough , Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service; the Rt. Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church; Bishop John F. White, African Methodist Episcopal Church Ecumenical Officer; Bishop Sarah F. Davis, African Methodist Episcopal Church; Paula Clayton Dempsey, Alliance of Baptists Ecumenical Officer; and the Rev. Dr. Richard L. Hamm, Executive Director, Christian Churches Together.

Also, H.E. Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Diocesan Legate and Ecumenical Officer; Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Dr. Zachariah Mar Nicholovos, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, Assistant Metropolitan; the Rev. Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA); Elder Loyda Aja, Assistant Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA); and the Rev. Wesley S. Granberg-Michaelson, ecumenical officer, Reformed Church in America.

Also, the Rev. Geoffrey Black, General Minister and President, the United Church of Christ; Bishop Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Secretary of the Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church; the Rev. Jerry L. Van Marter, chair, NCC communication commission; and Becky Ball-Miller, Church of the Brethren.

A schedule of the delegation’s tour of Cuba can be downloaded at


Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),


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