It has been 48 years since missionary Fletcher Anderson has been to Cuba, but last January
he got the chance to resume his work there, teaching Biblical Hebrew and Wesleyan doctrine
to students at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas, Cuba.
He has also had the chance to spend time with Cuban Methodists and says they are
eagerly waiting for Florida Conference churches to lend a hand.
Speaking July 21 to nearly 70 members of Key West United Methodist Church during a
fund-raising dinner for the churchs youth group, Anderson explained his work in Cuba
as a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries and what is happening with the
Cuban Methodist Church.
"There is a real chance for all of our churches in Florida to be involved in the
life and work of the church," he said. "All [Cuban Methodist] congregations are
hoping for a sister congregation, and a number of districts are waiting for their first
sister district to come out of the woodwork."
Anderson first went to Cuba in 1951 as a member of a work team from Asbury College and
Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. He spent three months there, then went on to serve as a
missionary in Mexico, Argentina and Peru and as pastor from 1978 to 1982 of two churches
in Key West.
He says the Cuban Methodists were vigorous in 1951, but are even more vigorous today.
"In Marianao, 15 people worshipped under the eye of the police. Now, 600 or more
do," he said. "People are flooding into the churches
redemption. Theres a real opportunity for the United Methodist Church in Cuba."
The Marianao Methodist Church in Havana has the second largest worship attendance. Its
senior pastor is Bishop Ricardo Pereira.
Anderson says Cuban Methodists have some idea what the United Methodist Church in the
United States is like and what it has done for them. They know the Florida United
Methodist Church has sent work teams and medical supplies.
"Some think a lot of our worship may be pretty tame compared to their charismatic
worship," Anderson said. "But they may not perceive that its different;
that theres life and vigor in our style of worship, also."
Anderson will return to Cuba in September to continue his work at the seminary, founded
in 1946 by Methodists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians.
According to Anderson, the seminary is the nerve center for ecumenical activity in
Matanzas, serving an important function among educational organizations in Latin America.
He says Methodists make up the largest denominational group of the record 74 students
Anderson resides in Key West.