After 51 Years, the African Methodist Episcopal Church Returns to Cuba

Tennessee Tribune—The 16th Episcopal District announces the reestablishment of the AME presence in Cuba. In 1898 the African Methodist Episcopal Church records its first church in Santiago, Cuba. In 1938, a high-level delegation of church leadership led by Bishop Reverdy Ransom visited the island and was well-received. Until 1960, there were many AME active congregations and members of the AME Church in Cuba who participated in all aspects of the life of the denomination. When the change of government occurred, the AME presence diminished and became almost non-existent. Hoping for an eventual return, the Cuban Annual Conference was never legally dissolved by the General Conference and various attempts were made to restore AME congregations on the island.

In May 2020, these hopes were realized with Pastor lsido Perez Carrion requesting membership into the denomination. Pastor Perez Carrion learned about the church from a Brazilian AME member and inquired about joining. He and Jehovah Nisi Church were received on May 21, 2021, at the Planning Meeting of the 16th District (Caribbean, South America, and Europe). After numerous conversations, prayer sessions, and appropriate vetting. Five other pastors and congregations were received pending appropriate vetting by the Dominican Republic Annual Conference which will have temporary administrative oversight of the AME congregations in Cuba.

“Returning to Cuba has long been a dream of my predecessors who have served in the 16th Episcopal District. I have even heard stories from the descendants of Cuban members who still remember stories of an AME Church on the island. I thank God to be able to bear witness to this moment—even amid the suffering of this global pandemic,” stated Bishop Anne Henning Byfield, President of the Council of Bishops and Presiding Prelate of the 16th Episcopal District.

An official request by Bishop Byfield has been received by the Cuban Government for the AME Church to be reactivated as a denomination and full restoration is expected. The reopening of the AME Church in Cuba will expand the work of the Church and reunite our Cuban brothers and sisters to African Methodism.