Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Missional Formation at the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas, Cuba

Academic journal article International Review of Mission

Missional Formation at the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas, Cuba

Article excerpt

Abstract

The author points out that Cuba is going through a special kairos, a time of transition, where (a) civil society is becoming increasingly active in the Cuban economy; (b) Cuban society is still in the process of digesting the meaning of the normalisation of relations with the United States; and finally (c) the churches and religion in general are playing a more dynamic role in Cuban society. The author, on behalf of the hosting institution, the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas, Cuba, reflects on the theme of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism consultation, after making reference to the historical development of missiological training in its 70 years of existence.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on behalf of our Evangelical Theological Seminary (ETS) here in Matanzas, we extend to you all a very warm welcome. We are indeed very grateful for your acceptance of our invitation to hold this Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) meeting here, which honours us immensely.

If you will allow me a personal note, I was blessed to serve at the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, as a CWME staff member. I had the privilege of organizing meetings and conferences like this one, and now, it is my turn to host one in our seminary, which again is a great privilege for us.

You are visiting us at a very special moment in the life of our seminary, since we are celebrating our 70th anniversary on October 1! At the same time, this is a very special kairos for our country: First, we are going through a period of transition, where civil society is becoming increasingly active in the Cuban economy; second, we are still in the process of digesting the meaning of the normalization of relations with the United States, particularly as far as God's mission is concerned; and finally, the churches and religion in general are playing a more dynamic role in Cuban society. (1)

Therefore, since the missio Dei is contextual, as churches we are in the process of refocusing the way we participate in this mission of sharing the good news of God's kingdom in the midst of our society. Since the seminary is not an end in itself, but rather an instrument to serve the churches to fulfil God's mission, this Consultation on Missional Formation could not be more timely, since we are in the process of revisiting our curriculum to be better focused in this endeavour.

Missional Formation at the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary

The ETS was founded on 1 October 1946 in the City of Bridges, as Matanzas is also known, in the same location as today, where a beautiful view of the contrasting green-blue waters of the bay can be enjoyed.

Our Seminary was organized by representatives of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches and their respective Boards of Missions in the US. On 2 May 1951, the official incorporation of the Episcopal Church was publicly celebrated, since it had been linked to the institution in teaching and collaboration since 1948. Hence the ETS has been, from the very beginning--and still is--the ecumenical seminary of the country. The Cuban Council of Churches was founded in 1941; a major outcome was the decision to form ecumenically the pastors and leaders of its churches. Hence the establishment of the ETS as an instrument to strengthen their mission in our country.

During the 1950s, the school was consolidated and strengthened through land acquisition, construction of buildings, and development of pastoral work in different fields, as well as in social sendees. This was enabled to a great extent by the support of the US missionary boards of these Protestant churches, which started to exercise a stronger influence in the country after the US Intervention of 1902.

Before this Intervention, in the second half of the 19th century the Protestant churches in Cuba were established and developed by Cuban missionaries, which--to great extent--were not acknowledged by the US missionaries. …

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