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September 3, 1999

Edition


Methodists in Cuba hope for Florida partners

By Tita Parham

KEY WEST — 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 church’s 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…seeking spiritual redemption. There’s 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 it’s different; that there’s 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 enrolled.

Anderson resides in Key West.


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1999 Florida United Methodist Review Online