A local Baptist leader participated in a week-long trip to Cuba to meet with Cuban Baptist leaders.
Brian Kaylor, communications and engagement leader for Churchnet, joined 11 other Baptists in the U.S. delegation. Churchnet (also known as the Baptist General Convention of Missouri) is a Baptist network of churches centered in Jefferson City.
"Seeing firsthand the work and context of Cuban churches provided a unique opportunity to better understand their challenges, opportunities and accomplishments," said Kaylor of Jefferson City. "My head is still spinning with the sights and sounds of Cuba, as well as new understanding and appreciation for Cuban Baptists."
The 12-person delegation from the United States included individuals associated with Churchnet and two churches (one in Missouri and one in Louisiana) that each have a two-decade partnership with a Cuban Baptist church. The delegation included eight Missourians, including Churchnet Vice President Forestal Lawton of Kansas City and Churchnet Missions Mobilization Team Leader of Lee's Summit. The trip lasted from Oct. 8-15.
The U.S. Baptists joined more than 80 Cuban Baptists gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the CoordinaciÃ³n Obrero-Estudiantil Bautista de Cuba (Coordination of Baptist Workers & Students in Cuba).
The group, usually called COEBAC, seeks to help Cuban Baptists engage in their context and society.
In addition to attending the COEBAC meeting in Ciego de Ãvila (located in the middle of the island nation), the U.S. delegation also visited other sites of Baptist work in Cuba.
The group visited the Western Baptist Convention's seminary in Havana, the office of the Cuban Council of Churches in Havana, and a Baptist Church in Pinar del RÃo in the western part of Cuba.
"Although separated by a physical distance of only 90 miles, the U.S. and Cuba remain worlds apart politically and culturally," Kaylor said.
"We traveled to Cuba to demonstrate we will not allow national borders or politics to divide us from our Cuban brothers and sisters.
"As the Bible says, we are united with "one Lord, one faith, one baptism.' We celebrated that the baptismal waters run deeper than national allegiances."