by The Rev. Dina van Klaveren, head of Maryland deputation to #GC79

Cuba, Sí.

Harry Groce, a young person in the Episcopal Church interning presently in the Diocese of Cuba, sent these thoughts for his mother, Julie Groce of Atlanta, (that’s her with me in the first pic, and I’m with Obispa Griselda in the second pic) to share with us as she testified in our committee meeting today for the Cuba Diocese to be fully reunited with the Episcopal Church via Resolution A328:

“The Episcopal Church in Cuba belongs in the American Church. Ripped away from its mother in the 1960s, it is simply trying to come home. The Cubans I have talked to see the American church as family, and desperately wish to reunite. As I understand, this is for two reasons. First, and the reason they stress most heavily, is that they feel alone and abandoned by their mother church and wish to come home. The situation has been described to me as a child whose mother left them but who was adopted by their aunt (Canada). Although cared for, the child was never made to feel at home in its adopted family and so wishes to rejoin its mother. The Cuban church feels alone, and wishes to end that isolation.

“The second reason, though the Episcopalians here are adamant that this is unimportant compared to the former, is the need for a partner – financially and organizationally. The church is on its own here. The Cuban government tolerates the church, but does everything it can to isolate it at every turn. They need an outside partner to ensure their continuity. So far, the church here has survived solely through sheer willpower. Reunion with the American church would go a long way here, especially when it comes to impacting lives. It is the Church that is taking care of the people here. It is the Church that is caring for the elderly, that is working to find gifted children and nurse their talents in the arts, that is supplying the community with a consistent source of fresh water. Some will undoubtedly argue that supporting the Cuban church is tantamount to supporting the Cuban government, but this is far from the reality. It is the Church that is acting where the government will not.

“Furthermore, I am convinced that reunion with the American Church will be an important stepping stone in the inevitable reconciliation of the US and Cuba. This transition will be made much easier if there is already an existing partnership between Americans and Cubans in some form. The exchange that will occur with reunion will be invaluable in the process of creating mutual respect and understanding between our two nations.

“As governments stall and posture, it is the Church’s duty to help the people. Where governments fail to act, the Church must act. We now have a crucial opportunity to draw the circle wider, and it is imperative that we do so. We say that “The Episcopal Church welcomes you”, and now we must practice that – especially since the one knocking at the door is family.”

Testimony from Harry Groce, 2018 Sewanee alum, Diocese of Atlanta – currently interning in the Diocese of Cuba

For more information about the legislation on the Episcopal Church in Cuba, see the resolutions +HERE.