Question: Do you know of any Unitarian Universalists in Cuba?
Answer: Unitarian Universalism (UU) has been growing in Latin America over the past several years. In January 2005, the Alianza Unitaria Universalista Latinoamericana (AUULA or Latin American Unitarian Universalist Association) met for the first time, in Argentina, with leaders from emerging UU groups from around the region. Although Cuba already had its own emerging groups, it was not able to ‘participate in these meetings.
In Cuba there exist two groups of Unitarians – the Unitarian Universalist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Religious Society – which the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) recognizes as Emerging Groups, or “applicants that are deemed to be reasonable prospects for membership, but do not fulfil the conditions of either Provisional membership or Full Membership.”
An article entitled “Largest gathering of Cuban Unitarian Universalists” (see www.uuworld.org) notes the fledgling movement of Unitarian Universalism in Cuba emerged from a number of sources: an email theological discussion group, exploratory visits by Reverends from overseas, and two tours to Cuba (2003 and 2004) by the choir and musical group of the First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon. As a result, several small UU groups, largely around Havana, began meeting, with estimates of about 120 UU members spread around the country.
In September 2005, the First National Convention of Cuban Unitarian Universalists took place in Havana to celebrate “Unidad y la Paz”(Unity and Peace). At this time, small groups of Cuban UU members were meeting in different municipalities of Havana such as La Víbora, Centro Habana and Playa. In October 2005, an ICUU delegation visited Cuba for the first time.
However, contact between international UU organizations and Cuba goes back earlier. Since 1997, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) has been working with the Medical Commission of the Cuban Council of Churches. That same year, the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) of the United States – the largest member group of the ICUU – passed an action of immediate witness supporting “political action to end that part of the United States embargo which pertains to food, medicine, and medical supplies.” Part of UUSC’s ongoing program work in Cuba is lobbying the U.S. Congress to end the embargo.
It is worth repeating the Principles and Purposes of Unitarians and Universalists, which can be found in the ICUU Constitution:
UU belief in religious community is based on:
- Liberty of conscience and individual thought in matters of faith.
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
- Justice and compassion in human relations.
- Responsible stewardship in human relations.
- Commitment to democratic principles.
UU purposes are:
- To serve the Infinite Spirit of Life and the human community by strengthening the worldwide Unitarian and Universalist faith.
- To affirm the variety and richness of living traditions.
- To facilitate mutual support among member organizations.
- To promote UU ideals and principles around the world.
- To provide models of liberal religious response to the human condition which upholds common values.