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[ This collection is no longer available for purchase. For the new version see Archives of the Presbyterian Church in Cuba (IPRC) and Archives of Christian Churches and Organizations in Cuba (CCOC)]

This collection makes available for research the records of the Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada en Cuba (IPRC) and predecessor Presbyterian churches and missions in Cuba, including a complete run of Heraldo Cristiano, the church’s newsletter, 1919 – 2010, which provides a framework for the history of the church, its work and history. Also included are the periodicals Juprecu and Su Voz, early mission records, originally maintained in English and then in Spanish as the congregations took over management of their churches and schools from the mission workers. These include session minutes and membership/baptism/marriage/death records, as well as minutes of men’s, women’s, and youth groups, including their mission work in their communities.

Size of the collection: 52,000 scans, approx. 80,000 pages.

Languages: Spanish (main), English.

This publication was realized with the support of the Kenneth Scott Latourette Fund, Yale Divinity School Library.

Historical background
The Archives of the Presbyterian Church of Cuba Online collection consist of the records of the National Presbyterate of Cuba (1904- ), the First Havana Congregation founded in 1901 (including a group made up exclusively English-speakers), and the records of eleven other Presbyterian congregations located in or around Havana: Guanabacoa, Güines, Güira de Melena, Luyanó, Nueva Paz, Palos, Regla, San Antonio, San Nicolás, Vega, and a small church that served Havana’s Chinese population. These records are in Spanish, begin in the first decade of the twentieth century and go up to the 2010s. The collection also includes fairly complete sets of Presbyterian periodicals: Heraldo Cristiano (1919-2010), the official monthly publication of the Cuban Presbyterian Church; Juprecu (1961-2009), the bimonthly publication of the Unión Nacional de Jóvenes Presbiterianos (Presbyterian Youth Union), and a collection of quarterly Su Voz (1961-2010).
While there had been a Protestant presence on the island as far back as the early colonial era, the first formal Protestant congregations emerged only in 1871, following a short-lived declaration of religious tolerance for Spain and its colonies. These first legal non-Catholic congregations served primarily Havana’s established and floating English-speaking Protestants. At the time, tens of thousands of Cuban political exiles resided in various U.S. locations from Key West to New York City. Following the end of the Ten Years’ War (1868-1878) against Spain, Cuban Protestants returned to the island and began to spread the work of various Protestant denominations. Cuban layman Evaristo Collazo established the first Presbyterian works in Havana in 1890 but had to close them five years later, when Cubans launched yet another war of independence against Spain.
The Presbyterian Church was officially established in Cuba in December 1901, during U.S. military occupation. Three years later, Cuba’s Presbyterians founded the Presbyter of Havana. During the Republican era (1902-1958) the church experienced growth and expanded its religious, educational, and charitable work. Much reduced in numbers and freedoms, the Presbyterian church persisted during the Revolutionary period that began in 1959. In 1967, Cuba’s Presbyterian churches became independent, and formed the Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada en Cuba (IPRC; Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba). During the 1990s and first decades of the twenty first century, this and other Protestant denominations experienced significant growth.
The bulk of Cuba’s Presbyterian Church records consist of scores of libros de actas (books of minutes) of each of the churches’ consistory meetings, regular meetings that included clergy and church elders. It also includes the minutes books of different committees and associations, among them those kept by men’s, women’s, and youth organizations, as well as Sunday Schools, Christian Education, and Benevolence groups. These books provide important information on a variety of topics ranging from clergy appointments and membership lists to budgets and the various roles played by Presbyterian women over the decades. Of great value to historians and genealogists are the records of baptism, marriage, and death. Because these records span over one hundred years, they allow scholars and other individuals to recognize and track changes over time. For example, one can trace the growth of various congregations and gather important sociodemographic data on gender, ages, and socioeconomic composition.
These records also provide insights on the participation and church activities of various ethnic and racial groups. There is a book of minutes of the consistory of an English-speaking congregation in Havana (1919-1926) and a particularly interesting set of bound volumes of the Chinese congregation in Havana. These materials are rich in information; they provide a historical sketch of these congregations, a complete list of members, records of baptism and marriage, and a revealing list that states the reasons why particular individual members left the church: “indifference,” “moved to the US,” or “joined a Pentecostal church.”
Besides books of minutes, the collection includes a wide range of historical documents and ephemera such as photo albums, church bulletins, lists of offerings pledges, and various other materials that offer information on the congregations, including the existence of a church-affiliated Boy Scout troop, lists of individuals served by church-run dispensaries, etc. These materials complement the microfilmed Princeton University Library collections of materials on religion in Cuba, among them, “Cuba Protestant Serials” and “Protestant Churches in Cuba.”
The Heraldo Cristiano magazine is particularly useful for anyone seeking a good understanding of the church’s development since 1919. Each edition consists of between fifteen and thirty-six pages of articles and regular sections. These include family devotionals, Sunday school curricula, news from around the world, and up to the mid 1930s, a section called “Cuba Seca” (dry Cuba) devoted to the subject of temperance. Both Cuban authors and US-based clergy and laypeople contributed to the magazine. The Heraldo Cristiano included information on church happenings, clergy appointments, and a social notes section announcing births, baptisms, and marriages, as well as obituaries. The monthly publication also carried photographs of clergy, church buildings, and benevolent work at orphanages and retirement homes. One particularly telling photograph showed a half-burnt Bible, victim of the intolerant zeal of a Catholic priest. The Heraldo Cristiano also carried ads for bookstores selling Christian books, Protestant schools, and other products and services.
The Heraldo Cristiano is also a valuable source to trace the relations of the denomination with various Cuban governments, particularly the revolutionary government since 1959. The February 24, 1959 issue, for example, carried a jubilant editorial entitled “La fiesta de la Patria liberada.” With the passing of time, the Presbyterian Church increased its support for the state and its official magazine included titles such as “Presencia del hombre protestante en la revolución.”
While students of Latin America demography have, for many decades, made good use of Catholic baptismal, confirmation, marriage, and burial records, few have consulted similar records generated by Protestant denominations. Such records, included in this collection, can shed much light on demographic questions and social realities. For example, the role of women in various leadership positions and as educators; and the rapid Cubanization of the clergy in the early years of the twentieth century. Genealogists and individuals putting together family trees will also find these records useful.
This collection offers multiple possibilities for those interested not only in the history of Protestantism on the island but for individuals in search of windows to Cuban culture and society. It will stimulate scholars to venture into a number of historical questions such as: Protestant positions vis-à-vis Catholicism and Afro-Cuban religions; the effects of the Cuban Revolution on Protestant churches and the impact of the consequent massive exile on church membership, attendance, and finances; and the role of the Presbyterian church during the profound economic and moral crisis of the Special Period that began in the early 1990s.

Luis Martínez-Fernández, University of Central Florida
Author: Ryan R. Gladwin

Abstract

Although church historians often call the 19th century the Great Century of Protestant mission, for Latin America it was the 20th century that was the great century of Protestant growth and expansion. The 20th century witnessed vast societal changes and the realization of systemic poverty and injustice as well as the exponential growth, pentecostalization, and diversification of Latin American Protestantism. Latin American Protestant Theology emerged during this century of change. This text provides an introduction to Latin American Protestant Theology by engaging its dominant theological streams (Liberal, Evangelical, and Pentecostal) and how they understand themselves through the lens of mission. The text offers both a critique of the Christendom cartography that is dominant in Latin American Protestant Theology as well as suggestions for how to move towards a transformative theology of mission. The primary intention of this text is to offer an informed outline and analysis of the theological landscape of Latin American Protestantism. The secondary intention of this book is to note the contributions as well as deficiencies of the streams of LAPT in the hope to signal a possible path towards the development of an integral, transformative, contextual, and decolonial theological voice.

In: Streams of Latin American Protestant Theology
Reflexive Religion: The New Age in Brazil and Beyond examines the rise of alternative spiritualities in contemporary Brazil. Masterfully combining late modern theory with multi-site ethnographies of the New Age, it explains how traditional religion is being transformed by processes of reflexivity, globalization and individualism. The book unveils how the New Age has entered Brazil, was adapted to local Catholic, Spiritist and psychology cultures, and more recently how the Brazilian Nova Era re-enters transnational circuits of spiritual practice. It closely examines Paulo Coelho (spiritualist novels), Projectiology (astral projection) and Santo Daime (neo-shamanism) to understand the broader “new agerization” of Christianity and Spiritualism. Reflexive Religion offers a compelling account of how the religious field is being updated under late modern conditions.

, composed of Mahommedans and worshippers of Idols, for then there were few Christians, contributed about £150 sterling.” 34 This philanthropic gesture was probably because their children attended the mission schools. Others who contributed to the building fund of the Susamachar Church were Chinese, White

In: Beyond the Legacy of the Missionaries and East Indians

Chinese Indenture System in the British West Indies and its Aftermath,” in Andrew Wilson editor, The Chinese in the Caribbean (Princeton: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2004) 7. 3 Dale Bisnauth, The Settlement of Indians in Guyana 1890–1930 (Leeds: Peepal Tree Press, 2000) 11. 4 Laxmi Mansingh and Ajai

In: Beyond the Legacy of the Missionaries and East Indians

estimated 49% of the Indian population were illiterate. This was relatively high when compared to 13.8% Coloureds, 3.2% Whites and 13.9% Chinese. 14 After almost a decade an increase to 2,926 students in 1945 reflected the expansion in population but also suggested that Indians were realising the

In: Beyond the Legacy of the Missionaries and East Indians

Department were inter-racial and inter-denominational, including Hindu and Moslem students, too. Recognized as one of the best institutions of higher learning in the south, not only Indian and Negro, but Chinese and European also attended n . g . h . s . 60 Florient Naranjit, retired teacher of a private

In: Beyond the Legacy of the Missionaries and East Indians

Juan, Penal, Las Lomas and Curepe Presbyterian Churches. There are also Whites and Chinese who are Presbyterians. For instance, the late Professor Peter Bacon was an English-born White, who worshipped at Aramalaya Presbyterian Church. Initially, the missionaries ensured the Indians were properly

In: Beyond the Legacy of the Missionaries and East Indians

Presbyterian schools, their selection of students was biased with a percentage of Africans 1.1%, Chinese 0.4%, Indians 78.9%, Mixed race 16.5%, Syrian Lebanese 1.1% and Whites 1.9%. 7 The Chamber of Commerce noted that race was the dominant variable thereby portraying the denominational boards as deliberately

In: Beyond the Legacy of the Missionaries and East Indians

societies and organizations had never existed among the Presbyterian schools. There were also lecturers of Chinese descent including Edward Yee who taught General Science and James Lee Wah who lectured in Drama. Lloyd Persaud, a former student of ntc during 1960–1961 and member of Nistar Presbyterian

In: Beyond the Legacy of the Missionaries and East Indians