Episcopal News Service Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Cuba, the embargo and the Church meet in Manhattan
By Dan Webster
[ENS] While the rest of world was reacting to Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez calling President Bush 'the devil,' the Cuban delegation to the United Nations found a warm reception inside a northern Manhattan Episcopal church last week.
"This parish is part of the Episcopal Church which has long opposed the blockade of Cuba," said the Rev. Gerald Keucher, vicar at Intercession-Washington Heights, which drew unanimous applause.
Speaking in both Spanish and English, Keucher welcomed nearly 500 people who filled almost every chair in the vaulted ceiling nave. Many had waited in long lines for hours outside the church on Broadway at 155th Street before passing through metal detectors and the watchful gaze of U.S. Secret Service and New York police officers.
Keucher quoted Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold who preached a sermon during a visit to Cuba last February.
"During my visit here I have been moved greatly by the faithfulness and vibrancy of your Church," Keucher said quoting Griswold's sermon. "Also, I have been saddened to see the suffering caused by the policies of my country's government. The Episcopal Church in the United States strongly opposes the Blockade against Cuba. In the four decades of its existence, the Blockade has done little except exacerbate the suffering of the Cuban people. Reconciliation must begin, and people of faith must lead the way."
Keucher concluded his welcome by inviting the crowd to come back often. The audience included city council members, civic leaders, actor Danny Glover, and Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney general. The event was sponsored by Pastors for Peace and the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO).
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