Published three times per annum
Annual Festival of Baptist Heritage August 2000
To order a single copy, send $2.00 Australian dollars for local orders or $3.50 for overseas post to:
Mrs Rosemary Kopittke, 98 Yallambee Rd., Jindalee, 4074 Queensland Australia
Phone (+61 7) 3376 4339
Baptist Historical Society of Queensland Membership
Annual subscription (inc. Queensland Baptist Forum)
Individuals $8 Families $12 Organizations $20
(if payment is not made in Australian Currency, order can only be processed if equivalent of an extra $10 Australian for bank charges on foreign cheques is enclosed with order.
President: Mr Eric Kopittke, 98 Yallambee Rd., Jindalee, 4074 Queensland Australia
Phone (+61 7) 3376 4339
Secretary: Dr Ken Smith 110 White St, Graceville Q 4075 Phone (+61 7) 3379 6117
· Early Qld Baptist Churches No 2 Jireh
· Kemnitz and the Templin Baptist Church, by Laurie Wolter
· Gordon Park Baptist Church - the early days, by Peter Whitehead
August 26, 2000
In conjunction with
Kalbar Baptist Church 125th Anniversary
The Baptist Historical Society of Queensland is pleased to support and share with the Kalbar Baptist Church for their 125th Anniversary
BHSQ will launch two books during the Saturday afternoon program
Tarampa Baptist Church
Marburg Baptist Church
Both written by R.A. Scanlan, OAM, and edited by David Parker
These books will be on sale at a special price of $6.00 each
(Regular price is $7.50 plus postage)
12 noon to 5pm: Displays, Tours, Interviews, Afternoon Tea
5.30pm: Dinner ($10.00 per head)
RSVP 15 Aug and enquiries Ph 07 5463 7251 or 0411 129 419 or 07 5463 7262
‘Cuba para Cristo’
Baptist World Alliance General Council, Havana, Cuba, July 2000
A report by David Parker
Cuban Baptists were thrilled to host the BWA General Council this year. There are about 38,000 church members in over 400 churches and many scores of outstations and home churches. The number has doubled in recent years. Missionary work has taken place in the country for more than 100 years. There are now three main groups, the Eastern and Western Conventions (aligned with the American Baptists and the Southern Baptists) and the Freewill Baptists (aligned with a US group of the same name). These are affiliated with the BWA. There is a fourth group, the Fraternity, not yet a BWA member, which seems to take a more radical line on identifying with the local culture and involving themselves in the socio-political scene.
Some Baptists have been involved in this way from an early stage. The first Cuban Baptists were patriots who were exiled to the US following revolts against Spanish rule over a century ago. They became Baptists in the US and when they were able to return to their homeland, they continued their political activity while planting churches. Later in the 1950s, Baptist people, including sons of a prominent pastor, were part of the revolutionary movement. One son organised the reception of the ship which brought Castro back to Cuba from Mexico. He continued to organize urban support for Castro but both sons were soon casualties of the war. In the 1970s various Baptist people and churches were involved in efforts for greater social responsibility, but in the early 1990s several churches were expelled from the Western Convention for this kind of activity; as a result they formed the Fraternity. It supports the Martin Luther King Jr. Study Centre at one of the suburban Baptist churches where the pastor is Raul Saurez Ramos; he is an outstanding theologian and has also been a member of the national parliament for five years.
Churches now have freedom to conduct services and meetings in their own church buildings and in homes, but not in public places or the open air. There would be a ready audience for open air work because many people are to be seen in the parks, streets and other public places. However, there was a breakthrough for the BWA meetings because permission was given to hold two rallies in an indoor sports arena in central Havana. According to news reports it was the first time such an event had occurred in 41 years. The arena is similar to Festival Hall in Brisbane and was packed on both occasions with BWA delegates and local people, about 3,000 people in all. Evangelistic services were also held in almost 40 churches using BWA delegates as preachers. These events were part of an outreach program of the Cuban Baptists under the slogan, ‘Cuba para Cristo’ - Cuba for Christ. Large banners with this theme were flying at the central Baptist Church in Havana, the sports arena and the Capitol Building during the General Council meetings.
"This is a historic event for the Cuban people," said Victor Gonzales, general secretary of the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba. "This is the first time that all the Cuban pastors, seminaries, and missionaries are together in one meeting. It is the first time we have celebrated open meetings since revolution times."
The Minister for Religious Affairs was present and spoke at the opening dinner of the Council held in the Capitol Building (a replica of the US Capital in Washington, DC). President Fidel Castro invited the leaders of the BWA to his office on the final afternoon where they spent about two hours in conversation with him.
Cuba is historically connected with Christopher Columbus who, when sighting and landing on the island, is reported to have described it as the most beautiful land in the world (Esta es la tierra mas hermosa que ojos humanos han visto.) Located just inside the tropics, about half the size of Victoria (about 1200 km E-W) and supporting a population of 11 million, it is indeed an attractive place with a fascinating history of Spanish and American colonization extending over 400 years. Havana the capital (pop. 2 million) is attractively laid out (especially the old city) sprawling westward along the coast from a deep harbour. Myriads of streets contain historic buildings, monuments, and large numbers of richly decorated colonial style apartment blocks, public buildings and mansions, most of which are now in poor condition. The country is struggling under the US economic blockade and the failure of the Communist bloc which once provided aid and trade. Poverty is a problem on every hand - 1950s cars are common - Chevs, Fords and others right out of the movies! Many of the Cuban Baptist pastors do not even have a bicycle for transportation.
The BWA Council meetings were highly successful. The Heritage Commission, under the leadership of Dr Charles Weber of Wheaton College (chair) and Dr Geoff Pound, incoming Principal, Whitley College, Melbourne, (secretary) met to share ideas, hear papers on the history of Cuban Baptists, to preview a new video of William Carey and to plan future activities. The Commission Web site will be further developed, a book will be produced on leaders of the BWA and members will assist in the writing and editing of the new official Centenary history of the BWA.
(Lots more reports about Cuba on www.bwanet.org)
© Copyright David Parker Sept 2000