A Message from Bishop Ely: Diocesan Convention Offering to Support a Church-wide Effort to Fund Clergy Pensions in the Diocese of Cuba
Dear People of the Episcopal Church in Vermont,
I am designating this year’s Diocesan Convention Offering to support a church-wide effort to fund pensions for clergy in the Diocese of Cuba and asking your local support and participation in this effort. Please read on for more.
One of the greatest delights of this summer’s General Convention was the return of the Diocese of Cuba to The Episcopal Church after 52 years of lonely existence. Here are links to two articles from Episcopal News Service regarding the actions of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies on this historic reunification:
- Bishops vote unanimously to admit Cuba as a diocese
- Deputies concur with bishops in unanimous vote to admit Cuba
I am writing to you today in response in response to this joyous news and to invite you to share in a very important effort related to pensions for clergy in the Diocese of Cuba. When the House of Bishops discussed the resolution that accomplished this at General Convention, former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori challenged the House of Bishops to help fund the pension gap for clergy who have faithfully served the Diocese of Cuba and her people.
Clergy in Cuba have no access to state pensions or any equivalent of social security…The pension gap is approximately $800,000.
Clergy in Cuba have no access to state pensions or any equivalent of social security. Their service to the church is not recognized as employment, which is a function of the Cuban government. Their “retirement” requires enormous creativity and often means penury beyond what most Cubans already endure. Despite fiscal realities, the church in Cuba continues to be immensely resourceful and creative. Bishop Griselda has fostered a culture of strategic planning and engagement in mission and ministry that will move and challenge anyone who has been blessed to listen to her speak or to visit her diocese. Gardens help to feed neighbors, the gospel is preached, clergy are trained, the diocese is effectively governed, and mission is engaged with “baling wire and shoestrings.”
Let us rejoice at the return of Cuban Episcopalians to this body and offer what we can for the well-being of those who have served so long and faithfully.
The pension gap is approximately $800,000. Many bishops and dioceses are participating in the effort to raise these funds. For our part, I have designated our Convention offering to this effort and, in addition, I invite each of our congregations to receive a special offering for this purpose that you send to Convention with your clergy and lay delegates. As a bishop of one of the smaller dioceses in the US, I would love to be able to say to my colleagues of larger well-endowed dioceses that we here in Vermont not only stepped up in this time when our brothers and sisters were in need, we went over the top.
I will leave it to each congregation to determine how you want to participate and simply ask that you bring your ingathering to Diocesan Convention as part of the offering during the Saturday Eucharist. Let us rejoice at the return of Cuban Episcopalians to this body and offer what we can for the well-being of those who have served so long and faithfully.
May God richly bless the givers ad those whose lives in retirement will be eased by this offering.