Thoughts by New Jersey Presbyterians on the 221st General Assembly

Hope for Cuba

As someone who’s traveled – legally – to Cuba twice, to meet with and support our fellow Presbyterians in that land, I was much encouraged to witness the Assembly vote to recommend that the U.S. government lift all restrictions on travel to Cuba.

The real surprise was that the vote was unanimously recommended by the Peacemaking and International Relations Committee and approved by the whole Assembly by a simple voice vote, with not a single person rising to speak against it.

The Assembly went on, after some cursory debate, to vote overwhelmingly to recommend that the U.S. government remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

We’ve come a very long way in the dozen years since I last traveled to Cuba. I think most Americans are well aware that our government’s barriers to travel to Cuba, and trade with it, are meaningless remnants of a Cold War long since ended.

Before the Cuban revolution and for a few years after, Cuban Presbyterian churches were part of the old Synod of New Jersey. Cuban Presbyterians were just as much members of our denomination as Puerto Rican Presbyterians now are. Although Cuba now has a national Presbyterian church whose members would never want to return to their former status of being organically related to us, both these votes make me hopeful that the day will soon come when we will both be free to enjoy close ties once again.

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