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Our minister, Rev. James Murray preaches from a prepared text each week. (He says it keeps him from rambling on too long!)  We are pleased to offer for your inspiration these messages. If they are cited or shared, please be sure to include credit where credit is due.

The Price We Pay. Palm Sunday, April 9 2017

Preached by Rev. James Murray at Dominion-Chalmers United Church.

One hundred years ago today, Canada fought its first battle as a nation.  This marked a change in how we see ourselves and how others see us. Canada did not declare war on Germany in 1914. We were dragged into the war by Great Britain. When the war ended in 1918, Canada was one of the signatures on the Treaty of Versailles. The Battle of Vimy Ridge marks this turning point in our nation's history and has in the past few decades become a symbol of Canadian identity.  The ridge at Vimy is also a symbol of the futility of war. Over the four years of fighting, hundreds of thousands of soldiers died on that ridge.  Like all the nations that fought, the losses Canada suffered during the First World War did have a significant impact on this young nation. Fifty six thousand Canadians died in that war. That's about one percent of the Canadian population at the time.

Some people find the wars we wage to be a source of pride and glory. Battles can bring great honour and power to the victors which can change the course of history.  For every war we wage there is also a price we pay. Families and communities can be devastated by the losses. We lost 56,000 soldiers in the First World War. Another 172,000 Canadians were injured. The scars from the shell shock and the gas attacks left a life long mark on many of those soldiers.  And to make matters worse, when the soldiers returned home they brought with them the Spanish Flu. The influenza epidemic of 1919 killed sixty thousand Canadians. Power and glory do come at a price which we must pay in flesh and blood.

The pride and the pomp of the Vimy Ridge celebrations today are definitely overshadowing the religious message of Palm Sunday this year. The events of Palm Sunday are often viewed as a triumphal celebration. This is Jesus’ victory march as the crowds recognize his importance. It is a glorious day of conquest as Jerusalem opens her gates to the victorious hero. It might be more accurate to say that the events of Palm Sunday look like they are a triumphal celebration. In all honesty, they point to a deeper reality that recognizes the price we all pay for such power and glory.  For the events of Palm Sunday are meant to confront and challenge the ways of this world, so a profoundly different world can be born into our lives here today.

In Jesus’ time, his nation was not triumphant, glorious or free. They had been under Roman military control for ninety years. What we know as Israel was merely an insignificant province of the relatively unimportant district of Syria. They were at the bottom of the list in terms of political importance.  While they were completely dominated by Rome, this was a time of great peace and economic prosperity. The economic prosperity happened because the Peace of Rome was maintained by the power of the sword. To step out of line brought a swift brutal military response.

Many people tried and failed to resist the military and economic superpower which was the Kingdom of Rome. Over the decades, about a million Jews died trying to overthrow that hated regime. In the face of such brutal repression, Jesus offers us a different approach to being free. Instead of trusting in the divine Emperor, who claimed to be God incarnate who brings the peace of Rome,  we are to claim Jesus to be our Messiah, our deliverer who brings us the Peace of God. Jesus turns the conventional political wisdom completely upside down. He challenges and confronts the way the world works.  Jesus is able to challenge the power of Rome because he refuses to pick up the sword. At his arrest, when one of his followers tries to defend Jesus with a sword, Jesus explicitly rebukes him. There are to be no swords in Jesus’ kingdom. The Peace of God will come only through the power of some broken bread and a cup of wine which is shared.


In the same way, the peace of God does not come through the power of a mighty army. It is no coincidence that at the very same time Pontius Pilate is riding into Jerusalem on a white horse, leading his Legions, this simple peasant Jesus chooses to enter Jerusalem by the opposite gate to the city, riding a humble donkey, leading a parade of women, children, fishermen and tax collectors. The last and the least are the backbone of God’s kingdom.

In the final reversal of common wisdom, Jesus shows us how salvation can come even in the face of death.  In the final gesture of Jesus’ life, he sees his mother Mary standing next to John. As Jesus is dying on the cross, he doesn’t cry out for his mommy.  He doesn’t use the people around him to save himself. No. Instead he says to John “Behold your mother.” By giving his mother to become the mother of his beloved disciple, Jesus is asking her to give life to John, just as she gave life to Jesus. He wants Mary to help the image of God be born in John, just as it was born in Jesus. In this profound gesture, the beloved disciple is being asked to become Jesus for his mother, to be her only son. Here is the supreme unity of love and communion. God’s kingdom comes through such self-giving relationships.

Here is the heart of God revealed. In Jesus, in what he says, in what he does, the heart of God is opened to us. Through all the palms, the parades, the meals, and even on the cross, we find the heart of God being poured out for us, so we might be united in loving communion with God.  Jesus is willing to confront and challenge the powers and principalities of this world in a creatively non-violent way, in order for God’s way to break through.

 It can be a challenge for us, to examine our own lives. It is hard to determine how much of our worldview is shaped by our political and economic philosophies, and how much is shaped by the Gospel’s demands on our lives. We are not always aware of the impact the culture has on our beliefs or our behaviours.  But there is always a price we pay for living as we do. So when we focus once more on the story of the life and death of Jesus Christ, we can learn how to reflect upon the meaning of our own lives. By encountering Jesus’ experiences of God, especially during these intense final days of his life, we can learn how to enter into this new kind of relationship with God, just as Mary and John became a new kind of family because of Jesus.

This is the gift of God, freely given to each of us for our salvation. In the coming days, as we see the depths of God’s love poured out for us on the cross, it is a gift we are asked to be challenged by, to ponder, and to share.  It is a gift offered to each of us, both young and old, so we might all share in the power of the resurrection.




“Who is the blind one here?”

Text: John 9:1- 41. Fourth Sunday of Lent

Preached by Rev. James Murray at Dominion-Chalmers United Church, March 26 2017

Dallas Willard was a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California. Dallas Willard was also a very wise Christian. In one of his classes a student challenged him with statements that were both offensive and incorrect. Dallas Willard paused and told the class that that was a good place to end their discussion for the day. Somebody asked Dallas afterward why he had not countered the student's argument and put the student in his place.  Willard said “I’m practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.” It is a great temptation to want to have the last word. To have the last word gives us power. We get to put the other person in their place, which means we get to show them just who is the boss. To have the last word is have control over others.

This morning we shared the rather unusual story of Jesus healing a man who had been born blind. The miracle itself is quite wonderful. But this remarkable healing is completely overshadowed by the religious arguments that follow it. The religious establishment questions Jesus' authority. They question if God is even present in Jesus' life. They question if Jesus did the right thing by healing the man.  I find it quite interesting that in Jesus' encounters with the religious authorities, that he lets them have the last word. Jesus asks them who is the blind person now. And the religious authorities are left to come up with that last word. For the man who was blind can now see. No one can deny this. The question is if the authorities can see how God is behind all this. Jesus has clearly broken all the rules in order to do what God wants.  The leadership has to decide if it is more important to be right or to be helpful.

God is often willing to do what is helpful, even if it means upsetting the rules that God has normally followed. The prophet Elijah broke all the rules when he selected David to be the King of Israel. Elijah chose the youngest son of the last family from the smallest village in the least of the tribes of Israel. He chose the smallest, youngest and least important child he could find to serve God's purposes. His choice changed the direction of Israel forever. That small, unimportant boy David became the greatest king his country ever had. When David has to choose his own successor, everyone expects him to pick Absalom who was his oldest surviving son. Absalom's mother was the daughter of the King of Geshur. So he had truly royal blood in him. Instead David chooses Solomon, who was the second son born to his last wife Bathsheba. Bathsheba was a Hittite woman. Her husband Uriah had been murdered by King David to cover up his affair with Bathsheba. Bathsheba was tainted by the sin of the adultery. But David chooses the youngest son from the least important wife to be his successor. And Solomon goes on to outshine his father as a great king. God keeps breaking the rules in order to do what is helpful.

To be right is like having the last word. If you are right, then the others are wrong. If you alone are right, then things must be done your way or not all. The problem with being right all the time is that being right isn't always the most helpful thing to do. There is no denying Jesus did break the rules in order to heal the man. Jesus did violate the Sabbath laws, which is a serious offence. But Jesus chose to break the rules in order to be a help to the man in his time of need. 

It takes a certain amount of humility to admit that you are not right. It is not a reflection on you as a person when you make a mistake. You are not a bad person if you have a different opinion. We often demonize people who think differently from us, and that is not always a helpful way to treat others. Because the person you demonize for being wrong on one issue may be the person who has the right answer on another issue you want to address. Politicians have learned the power of demonizing their opponents because it is a great way to silence your opposition. The problem with demonizing your opponent is that it then makes it hard to work together on important issues that require bipartisan support.  As a result, trust declines and our choices for resolution quickly fade.
The only way to overcome this roadblock is through the power of forgiveness. Only forgiveness can heal the wrongs that have been done. Only forgiveness can mend our broken fences. This is why we have to look carefully at our desire to always be right. This is why we need to be mindful of the consequences of our desire to be in control. And this is why we often need to be willing to look for a more helpful alternative. Dr.  Wayne Dyer was a professor of counselling psychology and a popular public speaker on the self- help circuit for many decades.  Dyer famously wrote, “When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose being kind.” 

Rob White had an interesting experience that taught him about the power of being kind. White was stuck in the supermarket line that wasn't moving very quickly. The elderly woman was very carefully putting her groceries on the conveyor belt. She was adding up the totals as she put them on. It was obvious she only could afford so much for groceries. The woman had placed the last of her items on the belt, reached into her purse, and handed the cashier a carefully assembled stack of bills organized by denomination. She clearly had the shopping trip well planned and was going to make every penny count. She was shocked when the cashier told her she was $10 short.  She looked around for the missing bill. But there was no money in sight. The bill had slipped from her hand and had floated to the ground. She couldn't see it because the gentleman behind her had placed his foot over the bill. The man no doubt intended to pocket the money on his way out. The woman frantically scanned the ground for another 30 seconds.  Then she reached into her purse and pulled out 10 one dollar bills so she could pay for her food. Rob White saw all this happen, and he felt sorry for the victim and he felt sorry for the perpetrator. He was tempted to get angry, and expose the cowardly act. He thought about embarrassing the guy with the sticky shoes into doing the right thing. Instead, Rob White pulled a ten dollar bill out of his own wallet. Reaching past the man with the sticky shoes, Rob tapped the woman on the shoulder. He handed her the bill and said she had dropped it on the floor. The man with his foot on the money said nothing. White then paid for his own groceries and headed towards his car. Outside the store the man who had taken the woman's money was standing waiting for him. The man handed Rob White the ten dollar bill. The man said he was sorry, and walked away. White realized the truth of the Greek philosopher Aesop who said “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

Doing the kind thing is not always an easy choice.  Jesus did do the kind thing by breaking the rules. He showed God's love in a way that changed the life of the man who had been born blind. He showed God's love in a way that showed what is possible when we live out God's kindness and mercy. God's love is not a static set of rules that never changes. God is always seeking to respond to the reality of the challenges we are facing each new day.  God is not afraid to let go of what was, even if it was considered the right thing to do for a very long time. God is not afraid to do something new. God wants to do something new with you so you can experience the fullness of life. Will you let God break the rules and do something new? The last word is up to you.


Source:
Five Things Much More Important than Being Right By Scott Stabile
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-stabile/conscious-relationships_b_5627459.html

Price Check on Kindness by Rob White
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rob-white/acts-of-kindness_b_2345466.html

“A thousand words” Good Friday April  2017

Preached by Rev. James Murray of Dominion-Chalmers United Church

It’s often been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Today our thoughts are focussed on the image of the cross. So I thought a thousand words on my part might help us to appreciate the significance of this central symbol of our faith.

As important as the cross is to the Christian faith, there are only two dozen references to the cross in the New Testament. The gospel writers all mention the cross at the crucifixion. They all mention Jesus’ telling us of the need to take up our cross in order to follow him. The remaining ten references all come from the letters of Saint Paul. For Paul, Jesus’ death on the cross is more important than the details of Jesus’ life.  Paul believes the cross symbolizes the power of God. He recognizes it can be a stumbling block to those who don’t understand what Jesus was doing. For those who do understand it is how we are reconciled to God.

There are many who share Paul’s belief that the cross is the only important detail we need to know about Jesus. His death is what saves us from our sins and even from death itself. It reveals to us the gift of eternal life. In the second chapter of Colossians, Paul says “And you who were dead in sin, God made alive, having forgiven us all our trespasses which stood against us. This God set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (v13-14, paraphrased)

As we read the whole of the New Testament we realize there is much more to Jesus than just his death on a cross. While we speak of his giving us salvation through his death on a cross, we also remember how he offers the gift of salvation during his life. His teaching and healing touch many lives, bringing people to new life. We need to know all the stories of his life in order to appreciate the full significance of his death.

Paul hints at this when he continues on in that passage from Colossians. He goes on to say that “God disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in Jesus.” (Col 2:15 paraphrased)

Jesus spent his life confronting the principalities and powers of this world. When Jesus stands up in the synagogue in Nazareth, he says his job is to set the captives free. While this is good news for the captives, such actions do not make the captors very happy. This is why Jesus tells his followers that in order to follow him, they must be willing to take up their own cross. Jesus confronts the powers and principalities which rule this life. He unmasks their domination over us. He even confronts their ultimate weapon, which is death itself. He shows us how to live without fear of death, which is to live as if the Kingdom of God truly is at hand.  This is God’s ultimate triumph over those Powers which rule this world.

And what are these powers and principalities? They are the forces of domination and exploitation which force us to compete for a limited amount of prestige, wealth and honour. They create a climate of scarcity, where even loving kindness must be doled out in limited amounts. The domination system needs compliant people who will sacrifice their own personal well-being for the good of our economy. It needs people who are willing to kill for the good of our political ideologies. To be willing to confront the powers who say ‘that’s the way things are done here’ does require a willingness to suffer, a willingness to be treated with contempt,  to be rejected. It is to take up your cross.

Jesus confronts these powers every day of his ministry. He confronts them when he heals on the Sabbath. When he forgives the woman caught in adultery. When he calls Zaccheus out of the tree. When he teaches his followers to call God  abba, “our father”.  Jesus shows how in God’s kingdom, our true humanity is not defined by strength, power and wealth. In God’s kingdom the beautiful people don’t automatically go to the front of the line. Jesus lifts up the broken people of this world. The outcast, the alienated, the poor. He values the last and the least as much as we value our biggest A list celebrities.

To challenge the way the world works does put you on a collision course with the powers which run this world. This is why Jesus had to die. He had to be stopped, or there would be no one left who would support the Empires of this world. Jesus was raising up an army of people who refused to be dominated. His army didn’t need a sword in order to conquer because the people of the Way believe in the ultimate power of a love which is stronger than death. The Powers That Be thought a cross would stop him, and his movement. By his willingness to face the cross, Jesus destroys its ability to destroy us.

Like Jesus, our spirit is a gift from God which this world cannot destroy. If we are willing to face our cross then we shall be free. If we are willing to confront these same powers and principalities today, we shall share in the salvation won by Jesus.

Jesus didn’t die to satisfy the demands of an unforgiving God. He died in order to break the cycle of domination, exploitation and discrimination which keeps us from achieving our God given potential as human beings who are made in God’s image.  By his life, his suffering and by his death Jesus identifies himself with all who sin, and with all who are sinned against. He frees us from the Powers which enslave us. He shows us forgiveness and healing. He shows the way to transform everything about this world, so there might be a new heaven and a new earth, here on earth.


Source:
“The Human Being- Jesus and the enigma of the Son of the Man” by Walter Wink
Augsburg Fortress, Minneapolis, 2002

This sermon is in the toilet.

 
First Sunday of Lent. Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Preached by Rev. James Murray at Dominion-Chalmers United Church, March 5 2017.

It is good to be back with you this Sunday. It is very rare for me to be away two Sundays in a row. I was on a Study trip to Cuba with a group from Emmanuel United Church, which is where my wife Christine is serving as a supply minister this year. There were seven people who were part of this pilgrimage to Cardenas Cuba. I do say pilgrimage rather than vacation. A tourist on vacation expects to enjoy all the pleasures their money will buy. A pilgrim expects to be changed by their experience. A tourist will complain when the comforts of home are denied to them. A pilgrim will reflect on why these differences exist. And that is why this sermon is in the toilet.

One of the biggest learnings from my trip to Cuba is that the average Cuban does not own a toilet seat. And that is a very fitting description of life in Cuba today. They have toilets and they have running water, but they don't have toilet seats. Now I am old enough to remember using an outhouse, so I am used to roughing it. But even most of the outhouses I have ever visited had a toilet seat installed. Having to use a porcelain toilet with out a toilet seat is not a comfortable experience by anyone's standards. It is a lesson in humility. Thankfully none of our group ended up in the toilet. We learned toilet seats are a comfort, but they are not a necessity.

Now the fancy hotels in Varadero that cater to the tourist trade all have toilet seats. But most public toilets and most Cuban homes do not. The resort area of Varadero is visited by two million tourists each year. Our pilgrimage group stayed in the nearby city of Cardenas, which is where the hotel workers live. Tourists rarely visit Cardenas because there is little there of interest to outsiders. Cardenas is a city of 110,000 people. Cardenas is a very densely packed city, with few green spaces. The tourist trade in Varadero is now the major employer. The sugar cane factory which was the major employer now sits abandoned. Because they are poor, the bicycle is the most common form of transportation. In Cardenas, most of the people do not own a car. In fact there are more horse drawn taxis in Cardenas than there are automobiles. It was odd being in a city where there are thousands of horses on the streets.  There are very few stores in Cardenas and everything in them is very expensive since it is imported. There is poverty in Cardenas, but no one is homeless or starving. They all have toilets, but no toilet seats.

For our pilgrimage to Cardenas we stayed at the Christian Centre for Reflection and Dialogue. The Centre exists to bridge the gap between the Christian church and the Cuban State. Cuba is an atheistic Communist country that has no use for the church. The goal of the Centre is to show how the Gospel message can be a blessing to Cuba today. They started the first Meals on Wheels Program to help feed vulnerable seniors who couldn't get by on their government pension. They cook over 50 meals a day, five days a week. They deliver those meals using a cargo bicycle. The program has expanded to include a nurse and a social worker who visit the clients on a regular basis. They have taught many other groups how to run a Meals on Wheels program, and these have spread across the country. When there was a food shortage in the 1990's, the Centre established a farm to grow fruits and vegetables. That farm now produces enough organic produce that they supply several other community groups and hospitals. The concept was so successful that the nearby seminary we visited has developed a farm on their grounds. The Seminary trains Protestant ministers from 30 different denominations. They come from 19 different Latin countries. And every student minister is taught how to start a farm that can feed their community. When there was a fuel shortage, they brought in biofuel technology that converts plant and animal waste into methane gas for cooking. They have taught farmers how to set up over 250 biofuel projects across the country. It has been a lot of humble hard work to serve in a country that doesn't want their help, but so desperately needs it.

It is hard to be humble when there is so much that needs to be done. Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus is tempted with personal fame and power over others at the start of his ministry. The tempter asks him ‘who are you?” Satan wants to know what Jesus is made of. Even today these are important questions for us.  The management guru Peter Drucker believes these are important questions everyone needs to answer. When Drucker is asked to consult with a business, he asks them ‘what is your business?’ He wants to know what are you here to do. He challenges people to be able to explain why do they do it. And these answers need to work in the context we are in. We can't do this all on our own.

When Jesus is put to the test, he has all the right answers. By his words and his deeds  Jesus expresses his belief that he exists because God provides all he needs. He doesn't need what Satan is offering because he knows what he is made of. Jesus serves God’s purposes in the world. Jesus knows it is wrong to try to get God to serve his own purposes. For God is not something we are to control for our own purposes. God is not an object we can claim exclusive ownership of.

We can't own God because God is not a thing to be possessed. The great Canadian thinker Buckminster Fuller once said that God is a verb, not a noun. God is a verb because God is doing things in the world. God is actively healing the sick. God is actively freeing the captives. God is actively forgiving sinners. God is still seeking the lost sheep. God never stopped feeding the hungry. God continues to comfort mourners. God won't stop clothing the naked. God is meeting the needs of the world. That is God's mission. We can’t own that or control it for our purposes. We can be a part of it though. Like Jesus, we can serve God’s purposes in the world.

Our pilgrimage group wanted to serve God's purposes, so we took seven large suitcases of clothing, towels, medicine, medical supplies and school supplies with us to Cuba. We did not enter the country as tourists. We entered the country on Religious visas. We were marked as being different before we even landed. Our bags were x-rayed and searched several times. We were questioned longer than any other passenger on our flight. It was a difficult time as we waited to see if we would even be allowed to enter the country. It was a humbling moment to feel so powerless. There was nothing I could do, except pray for strength. Thankfully we were allowed in with our bags. The supplies we brought were put to God's purposes to help God's people in their time of need.

These weeks which lead us to Easter are a time to draw us closer to heart of God. We are each invited to spend time in deliberate prayer and reflection. It is a time to discern who we are. To discern what we are made of. To learn what is our business. What are we here to do? I do need to warn you that this can be a humbling process, as the answers may require us to let go of some of the comforts that we take for granted. Remember that toilet seats are a comfort, but they are not necessary for the task at hand.

It is a humbling step to accept such a change in our thinking. We can find the strength to make such changes, because as people of faith, we are invited to be pilgrims, and not merely tourists. Jesus wants us to journey with him, from the temptation in the desert all the way to Jerusalem and the cross. He wants to share these experiences with us so we may be changed. He wants us to be pilgrims who are seeking to grow in our awareness of who God is. We are invited to be pilgrims who are changed when we meet God in the world around us. We are all invited to be like Jesus, so we too can serve God’s purposes in the world.







Pilgrimage to Cuba
Excerpts From Rev. Murray's Personal Journal
First Impressions

The Smells of Cuba:
- old cars burning leaded gasoline spewing lots of black smoke
- flowering shrubs that are a delight to the honey bees
- burning garbage

The Sounds of Cuba:
- live music being played in restaurants
- horses' hooves on the pavement as they pull carts and wagons
- people shouting greetings as they pass on the streets.
- children playing outside after dark

The Rot
-cement buildings crumbling as the paint peels off in the humidity
- roof tiles black with mold
- sewer system collapsed, leaving water standing on the street.
- abandoned factories slowly collapsing
- piles of garbage by the roadside
- roads crumbling into dust

The Pride
- the 1959 Revolution is the first time the people of Cuba have ever been free
- Government offers free health care and education, child care, food support
- natural resources are developed for the good of the people, not the rich elite
- they don't have a huge gap between the rich and the poor
- little corruption

The Humility
- they admit the Revolution did make mistakes along the way
- their sense of identity was forged in resistance to the exploitation of Spanish Colonial Rule
- despite its imperfections, they do love their country.

Sunday, Feb 19. Sunday worship at Dora Valentin Reformed Presbyterian Church in Varadero.
The congregation was founded in 1959, their building constructed in the 1990s. The church seats 150, with about 120 in attendance, including about 20 children. Located right in the resort district, about a dozen Canadian and American visitors from the resorts attended. The gospel reading was the Beatitudes and the sermon spoke of the need for us to be changed by the presence of God's love. The service followed the traditional Reformed order of service, much like DCUC. Their music is contemporary praise band fare, but played with Cuban percussion instruments added. The service was all in Spanish and lasted an hour and 45 minutes. It featured communion and a sharing time for prayer concerns, birthdays and anniversaries. At the end of the service, the benediction is sung as the congregation forms a circle around the church holding hands. Then we all turn, and place our hand on the head of the person to the right. In unison, we bless each other and send each other out to serve Christ in the world.
Monday, Feb. 20. Meeting with Rev. Raimundo Garcia, founding director of the Christian Centre for Reflection and Dialogue in Cardenas.

Rev. Garcia was ordained by the Baptist Church in 1963. In 1965 the Castro government cracks down on dissidents and undesirables, and opens forced labour concentration camps. Many religious leaders like Rev. Garcia were arrested, along with university radicals and other anti-revolutionary figures such as the homosexuals and the drug addicts. The goal was to re-educate prisoners to conform to socialist ideology, and if that failed they were to be worked to death. After two years he was released. The Baptist Church encouraged him to abandon the ministry and leave Cuba. When he persisted in preaching, he was forced out of the Baptist church and joined the Presbyterians. Raimundo Garcia made it his ministry to show that Christianity does have something to offer even in an atheistic communist state like Cuba. He believes the cross of Jesus reconciles the world, and his ministry is to bring reconciliation to Cuba.

Rev. Garcia convinced the Mayor of Cardanas to sell them an abandoned factory as the site for the Centre. The Mayor was later fired for doing so. For 22 years the Centre was not even recognized by the government. The Centre has been a leading example in teaching mission to congregations as they pioneer programs to serve the needs of the community. They have promoted dialogues that have lead to the recent thawing of relations between Cuba and the USA. They have been supported by your Mission  & Service donations for many years.

Tuesday, February 21 Visit to Havana
The Havana Cathedral is a testimony to the power of the Spanish Empire which ruled Cuba for over 400 years. They bled the country dry to build up the power of Spain. They created the Golden Triangle, which brought slaves from Africa to their colonies like Cuba to grow sugar cane. The sugar was then sold in Europe. The profits from the sugar then was used to buy more slaves in Africa. Cuba was the gateway for all the slaves that were sold in Central and South America.  There is little in the museums of Havana that speak of the history of slavery that first created this island na