On April 24, 2014 at the invitation of the Crafty Ladies, Dan Christopherson, the Southwest District Cuba Coordinator, gave a presentation to the Crafty Ladies, the Men's Group, some of our leaders and other interested parties about the state of Methodist churches in Cuba. Dan's plea was for Gulf Cove to adopt a sister church in Cuba.
As Dan Christopherson described the Cuban circumstances and answered each of our questions the desireability of adopting a Cuban church began to build.
Dan left a few brocheurs for our review. I encourage you to download each for study.
Dan also sent a few pictures depicting life in Cuba.
Plastic covering bed & dinning area
People hauler seating
Travel to sister church
Sewing machine gift to pastor's wife
Cuban Worship Service
During the May 27 meeting the church council approved the next step towards adoption of a Cuban sister church. This was the formation of a team to study requirements, potential problems, confer with other local churches and develop an implementation plan. Download the minutes for a more complete picture.
Current Cuban Leadership Team members are: Betty Hansel, Rick & Linda Starck, John Furtado, Ken & Joan Priest, Alfred Current and Scott Folsom.
Information is now being made available to our congregation. We encourage questions and our church council members will attempt to answer any you may have.
District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Rini Hernandez will be giving the sermons for the 9:30 and 11:00am services on Sunday June 22nd. Rini will be speaking to us about his own experiences as a United Methodist pastor in Cuba. This is a must attend event!
Scott Folsom is preparing to accompany seven area youth and two adult chaperones to the Camp Canaan Bible camp in Cuba this July. The Bible camp expected attendance is 800-1000 Cuban youth. We hope Scott will have the opportunity to meet the pastor of our potential sister church. We need to raise a total of $1,500 for Scott's trip. Some of this money is already in hand but more donations are needed.
Scott's trip provides an opportunity to import much needed over-the-counter medical supplies for the Cuban Methodists. Ask about how you may contribute.
Download the June 2014 Southwest District Cuba Newletter
After the services on Sunday June 22nd a special Church Conference meeting was convened to discuss the adoption of a Cuban church. As questions were answered the excitement and support grew ultimately resulting in a unanimous approval of the motion to adopt. On June 24th 2014 we received word from Dan Christopherson that our request for a sister church in Cuba was granted and we were assigned the church in Nicaro.
Some basic information about the Pastor: Nicaro Pastor Reinaldo Eloi Laguna
Discussion at Nicaro
Let's focus on how to help our sister. Jan and Nancy Prins, from Englewood UMC were present to answer questions and help guide our progress. There was much to discuss and we made a good start.
Download minutes from the first steering team meeting: Nicaro Steering Team Minutes June 30, 2014
Jan & Nancy Prins
Nicaro Steering Team
Betty & Rick
On Wednesday July 9th 2014 visiting Cuban pastors, Rev. Isel and Rev. Ernesto talked about life in Cuba. Listening to their daily hardships was tough for us. If you looked around the room you could see the wet emotion on many faces. We have so much material wealth in America. The desire to give was strong. However, when they talked about the spirital revival taking place in Cuba the tables were turned. We struggle to keep our churches above water. It's evident our southern brethren have much to offer.
As this was their first trip to the United States they had to be making comparisons. Yet, they remained truly thankful of our developing relationships. We posed many questions about what we could give specifically. If there was a theme for the evening it was "When you have nothing ... any gift is appreciated". The compilation of information listed below reflects our current understanding of needs and conditions.
People attended from Ft. Ogden, Englewood and Ft Myers United Methodist Churches. Each already had sister churches in Cuba. It surprised and delighted us to see such strong community of supporters. Also surprising was how many journeyed to Cuba and on return affirmed it was a life changing event. It is evident we have much to learn and we look forward to the opportunity.
When Nicaro learned that ten years’ of prayers had been answered, that they had a Sister Church in us, they held a whole service of thanks and praise.
After dinner presentation
Betty with Revernds Isel,Bill, Ernesto
Reverend Bill prepared a letter for Scott Folsom to present to our sister church.View our Letter to Nicaro
I didn't know Rev. Bill spoke Spanish.
Path to the Nicaro Church
Our Nicaro Sister
The Pastor's residence is the church
Scott offers gifts from Gulf Cove
Spanish Bibles for Pastor Reinaldo
Cuba's favorite sport
It's a hit!
Nickel Plant Closed 2012
Processing plant was inefficent
Nicaro unemployment now 80%
Scott also brought funds to provide for a Sunday meal for the congregation for a year. A gift of additional funds were designated for the requested washing machine. We were supprised to learn that a washing machine is very rare and the one provided will be a community treasure.
Pastor Reinaldo's Phone & Bike
New Washing Machine
Clean water has been identified as apriority need for Cuban churches. However, each church and community has a unique water situation. Rick attended a presentation by Water One on their filter and purification systems. As a result Ken Visser, VP of Water One, has prepared a list of questions to be asked of each church visited in order to determine their specific requirements. Rick and Linda will be taking many pictures needed for the water situation analysis as well as collecting the data for Water One.
Once we determine what is needed, we can proceed to fund raising for the equipment and shipping. We also have to solve the transportation problem of how to get the equipment to Cuba as well as providing for a continual supply of filter cartridges.
Spanish Sister Banner
Linda Starck created a video of the November 2015 Cuba trip which was presented at all services Sunday Jan 17, 2016. The video vividly brings to life the people of Nicaro. Many from our congregation commented how this helps to understand what we are doing in Cuba and why we are desperately needed. Rick Starck followed up with slides on "What's Next" depicting the prayer, planning and implementation lying ahead of us. Clearly this is a 5-10 year program.
Construction has started!
Southwest District Youth Trip to Cuba leaving to spend eight days at Camp Canaan and visiting their sister churches in Cuba — with Scott Folsom, Katelyn Kellogg, Carly Danielle and Kelsey Anthofer.
Clean Water! Something New!
Februrary 2017 - GCUMC adopts a second Cuban sister church, Frank Pais. John and Carol McGuire visited with pastor Siubel Cannelles during their November 2016 trip. Frank Pais is a new church located near Nicaro. Currently there are 27 members. Some pictures follow.