Statement of the November 2000 IPRC- PC (USA) Partnership Celebration
We, Presbyterians from Cuba and the U.S., representing the Synod of the Iglesia Presbiteriana- Reformada en Cuba (IPRC) and its presbyteries of El Centro, Matanzas and La Habana, the Worldwide Ministries Division of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and partner presbyteries, including Cascades, Chicago, Long Island, Monmouth, Santa Fe, South Louisiana and West Jersey, the Cuba Connection, McCormick Theological Seminary and other interested Presbyterians met at the Centro de Actividades Nacionales de la Iglesia Presbiteriana (CANIP), November 12-20, 2000, to celebrate our partnership in mission since 1986 and look forward to the new millennium before us.
We recognize that this is God’s mission and that we join God in it through partnership. We reaffirm through Bible study and our own experience that mission in partnership has several dynamics. First it requires movement (see Castellanos Bible study, Acts 14:21 and 15:31) and that movement is neither linear nor chartable. Second, it is contextual. This includes the religious, social, political and economic realities of this specific time, as well as personalities. The movement in specific context leads naturally to collisions (Castellanos Bible study). Third, mission in partnership is transformative. It opens doors where transformation is possible. Transformation occurs when there is true mutuality.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Rickabaugh’s Bible study on partnership and Philippians) reminds us that partnership in the gospel means five things: 1) our sharing in God’s grace; 2) our sharing in the Spirit: 3) our sharing in the sufferings of Christ; 4) our sharing in the troubles of others, and 5) our sharing with others by both giving and receiving.
In the letter to the Ephesians, we affirm that Christ has broken down the dividing wall of separation (Eph. 2:14). But, we confess that at times we have been busy rebuilding barriers.
This celebration gave opportunity to share the experiences of our journey. Each partner shared stories and gave testimony to what we have done and learned together. We identified six themes that represent a challenge as well as a vision for the immediate future.
- We recognize that a spirituality of partnership and our partnerships are strengthened when they are grounded in Bible study, intercessory prayer, theological reflection and include the sharing of personal experiences.
- We recognize that the new form of cooperation, such as the one we are experiencing, requires new lines of communication and coordination which involve all the partners involved.
- We recognize the need to establish basic principles of financial accountability and planning that depend on the oversight and wisdom of the structures of the respective churches.
- We recognize that the activities of the partnerships call for the establishing of priorities, for strategic planning and for creating a schedule of all partnership activities.
- We recognize that we face the challenge of making our partnerships truly mutual, where each partner experiences a full sense of giving and receiving. Because this relationship is circular, we cannot break this circle, otherwise we will not experience God’s intended transformation, and the walls that divide will not come down. The mutual nature of the relationship recognizes specific current realities in our churches, which includes the economic situation in Cuba with specific consideration to the material needs of the Cuban churches and the spiritual needs in the PC (USA) to which the IPRC can bear witness of faithfulness.
- We recognize that our mission partnership:
a) calls U.S. Presbyterian partners to the work of advocacy for the normalization of U.S- Cuba relations; and
b) calls us all to work together to prepare for the ministry after that normalization.
This statement was unanimously adopted in plenary session at the
First Presbyterian Church of Havana on November 20, 2000