Plymouth and Exeter MWiB District Day – May 2018 – Fremington, North Devon
Fifty people came to share our District Day in May, and we enjoyed a report from Amigos, our current charity, and a talk by Rev Audrey Standhaft on her visits to the church in Cuba. Our new newsletter went down well, as did the books and other resources for sale. Fremington is a lovely village, and we were glad to stretch our legs around the area during the lunch break. The day started and ended with worship, and we were well looked after by the ladies of the church.
Amigos works with people in Uganda, moving them ‘from dependency to dignity’, and we have been supporting the organisation for two years – and the money is still coming in! Pictured above are Phil Pugsley of Amigos, with Di Smart [MWiB District President] and Sharon Canning [MWiB District Vice-President] as we handed over a cheque for the money raised so far.
Our ‘Muscle of Love – Use it or Lose it’ theme was ably demonstrated by the talks on Cuba given by Rev Audrey Standhaft. Politics and religion in this male-dominated, macho society are changing rapidly. Human rights are still restricted in this communist country, but the church is now tolerated in ways that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
Sometimes this can pose problems for the Catholic Church, which is in talks with a government that uses detentions and harassment under misused laws. Trades Unions are banned, and the media is centrally-controlled; fair trials are few – but these days, Cubans are free to leave (if they can afford the fares), as they are free to be self-employed (under licences that can be revoked).
Cuba has lost the support of both Russia and Venezuela, so even funding the free dole of oil, soap and rice is difficult for the government, and the free health and education services also suffer. Poverty is pervasive. Amnesty International has called on the USA to lift its total embargo on goods leaving and entering Cuba, but to no avail.
Cuba has a Ministry of Religion, and freedom of worship is guaranteed, but getting new churches built is not easy – most Methodist churches start from homes and expand within their buildings, with a Pentecostal base. As well as struggling with the Cuban authorities, the churches fear too much Westernisation.
The watchwords are Courage – Commitment – Compassion.