Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

The global church July 2013


Cuban pastor Jose Ramon Ruiz Perez and his family

Cuban pastor tells of hurricane damage

Before he became an ordained elder in The Methodist Church in Cuba, Jose Ramon Ruiz Perez was a medical doctor there.

Rev. Perez visited Oklahoma recently, asking Oklahoma churches to help with hurricane recovery where he ministers — in one of Cuba’s poorest regions.

Before Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S. eastern coast in October, people in the Holguin province suffered its force, in what is called East Cuba.

Many were left homeless as communities were devastated, Perez told Volunteers In Mission (VIM) officials and other Conference staff on April 22 in Oklahoma City.

He pastors St. James Methodist Church in Mayari, with about 300 worshippers. That’s an increase from 200 people in 2011, he said. Due to the growth, the crowd far exceeds the church’s space, with many people gathering outside just to be part of worship.

St. James Church reaches out to communities with food, shelter, clothing, and hope. But the 106-year-old building, already in decline, was damaged by the hurricane. Roof, walls, and kitchen were torn away.

Perez asks for volunteers and funds to help repair the building as the church struggles to continue its witness and help its neighbors.

"Oklahomans know well the destruction that nature can create," said VIM Coordinator Lori Foster. She has served four VIM missions in Cuba and will return in 2014.

She vividly remembers seeing people kneel and pray for an hour on Wednesday mornings at St. James. "They prayed for the community. There was a waiting list to go pray there," Foster said.

Before they are received as church members, people complete specific Bible studies, Perez said.

Foster said a religious tourist visa or educational tourist visa is required to enter Cuba. The government allows 24 teams per year to enter for construction purposes.

Perez also serves as superintendent of 31 churches in the North Holguin District. He is the son of a Methodist pastor.

Watch a YouTube video, provided by Perez, about the devastated church and communities in Cuba: http://youtu.be/fsD8S0oW2Yw.

To learn more, contact Lori Foster, lfoster@okumc.org, 405-530-2070.

— Holly McCray

‘Happy Birthday’ has Methodist connection

Just about everyone knows "Happy Birthday," but you rarely hear the song on TV. That’s because it is under copyright protection. A federal lawsuit is trying to change that, and a key piece of evidence is from the former Methodist Episcopal Church.

Lawsuit details say the lyrics were published by the Board of Sunday Schools of the Methodist Episcopal Church in a 1911 book, according to a National Public Radio report. — United Methodist News Service

Event examines abuse of women

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in June called the abuse of women the "most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation in the whole world" and contrary to the basic premise of every religion.

Among participants from 15 countries at the Human Rights Defenders Forum, at the Carter Center, Atlanta, Ga., were 70 religious leaders, including representatives of the World Council of Churches, whose members include The UMC.

Learn online about hymns

The weekly "History of Hymns" column, by Dr. Michael Hawn and music students at Perkins School of Theology, is now being hosted on the General Board of Discipleship website, www.GBOD.org.  The column formerly was published in The United Methodist Reporter.


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