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Visit to Cuba's council of churches by U.S. ecumenical leaders
Sixteen representatives of U.S.
National Council of Churches member communions were in
delegation, which Cuban church leaders said was the highest ranking
The joint statement by the churches
declared that normalization of relations between the
Foremost among the issues is the
The embargo is “the major obstacle
to the resolution of differences, to economic interaction, and to fuller
engagement of our peoples and churches,” the
Also cited as obstacles to normalization of relations is the imprisonment in the U.S. of the “Cuban Five,” whose sentences in 1998 “have been deemed unjust by numerous human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the United Nations); and the two-year incarceration in Cuba of U.S. citizen Alan Gross.
“Together, we affirm the importance of living in hope, but also to demonstrate the credibility of our hope by acting to help make it so,” the church leaders said.
“We, therefore, commit ourselves to promote, even more vigorously, the relationship between our churches and church and ecumenical councils, and to advocate, even more assertively, for the normalization of relations between our countries. Such commitment, we confess, is a response to the One who has bound us to one another (e.g., Ephesians 4:6) and sent us forth to be ambassadors of God’s reconciling love.”
The full text of the joint declaration can be read at www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/cubajpointstatemewnt.pdf
Kinnamon and other members of the delegation met with the wives of the “Cuban Five” and with Alan Gross to publicize their support for their release.
Gross’ name came up during a meeting December 1 between Kinnamon and Cuban President Raúl Castro. Kinnamon said Castro expressed concern about Gross’ declining health, but did not comment on the possibility of his release.
In a sermon November 27 at the
National Episcopal Cathedral, Kinnamon laid out challenges faced by the
churches of the
“And hanging over all of this is the U.S, embargo/blockade and the imprisonment of the Cuban Five, both of which our American churches have forcefully condemned,” Kinnamon said.
He cited a passage from the Apostle Paul: “Give thanks in all circumstances… (I Thessalonians).”
“Life itself is a gift of our
Creator,” Kinnamon said. “How can we not live in gratitude? And yet, I do
not give thanks for the violence that so scars our world or for the fact
that billions of God’s children live in abject poverty or for the pollution
of God’s creation—or for the continued
Kinnamon added: “Perhaps what Paul has in mind, however, is thanksgiving, not just for what is, but for what God has promised. I give thanks for the vision in Micah of that day when swords are beaten into plowshares and nations do not learn war anymore (chapter 4). I give thanks for the vision in Isaiah of that day when children will not die young and no one will labor in vain (chapter 65). And, in this way, our very act of giving thanks becomes itself a protest against the violence and greed of the world as it is. Giving thanks is itself a protest against the puffed up way of living that turns others into enemies and relegates some to the bottom of the heap.”
Read the full text of Kinnamon’s sermon at http://www.ncccusa.org/news/MK.Nov30.11havana.html.
In addition to Kinnamon and his
wife, Mardine Davis, members of the
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.
See additional stories:
Kinnamon: U.S. churches pressing
for normalization of relations with Cuba
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