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The Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Island of Cuba

Report of the Rev. Edward Kenney, B.D.
Appointed A.D. 1871, by the Bishops in Council.

New York: Printed by the Cuba Church Missionary Guild,
for gratuitous distribution. 1879.

The Cuba Church Missionary Guild

Organized A.D. 1878.

Objects: To furnish financial aid to carry on the Work of the Bishops in the Island of Cuba.


President: The Rt. Rev., the Presiding Bishop of the Prot. Episcopal Church.

Provost: Rev. Wm. Tatlock, D.D.


Rev. Alfred Stubbs, D.D.
Wm. P. Clyde, Esq.

Registrar: Geo. Wistar Kirke.

Corresponding Secretary: Rev. John Coleman.

Treasurer: Col. F. A. Sawyer.

Executive Committee
All the Officers of the Guild, with

Rev. Eugene A. Hoffman, D.D.
Rev. F. C. Ewer, S.T.D.
Rev. S.H. Tyng, Jr., D.D.
Rev. J. S. Shipman, D.D., D.C.L.
Rev. W. Chauncey Langdon, D.D.
George B. Sibley, Esq.
Britton Richardson, Esq.
Walter H. Gilson, Esq.
Thos Henry Edsall, Esq.
Seth Low, Esq.

Member's Fee, One dollar per annum.

Associates--Clergymen, Ladies, and others aiding the Guild.



To the Rt. Rev. B. B. Smith, D. D., LL. D., President, and The Rev. William Tatlock, D. D., Provost of the Cuba Church, Missionary Guild, New York.


IN compliance with resolution of the Executive Committee of "The Cuba Church Missionary Guild," passed at the meeting held June 12th ult., I beg to submit some facts relating to the progress of our Mission work on the Island of Cuba, from December 24th, 1878, to date. When I reached Havana I found that we were again without a house. The hall which we had used for our services for a period covering upwards of five years had been cut up into rooms, and, after diligent search, it seemed almost impossible to secure another. It was my desire to vent a house to be used for all the purposes of our Mission, but the condition of our treasury did not warrant my pursuing such a course. In the midst of our perplexity a saloon or hall was offered to me in the south wing of the Hotel Pasagé, in every way suitable to our purpose, at a monthly rental of $27 gold, and on the second Sunday after Christmas we held our first service, with a fair congregation present, the offertory amounting to $17.50. In this connection if maybe well to note that at that time we were compelled to give all notices of our services either by personal invitation or letter, as we are not permitted to use the public press. Recently I have dared to have notices printed and posted in the hotels and at prominent places throughout the city. In a few instances they have been torn down, but with these exceptions there has been no difficulty occasioned either by the district magistrates or the police force of Havana.

During the months of January, February, March, April and part of May our services were well attended, and at times there was scarcely room for the people, but since then, owing to the fact that all who can leave the island during the summer and early autumn, or else go to the summer resorts of Cuba, and owing to the extreme heat and the rainy season, our congregation has been decreasing in numbers each week. From the middle or latter part of November to about the middle of May, sometimes later--a little more than six months--we can always count on a fair attendance. After that time it is doubtful. Owing to the fact that the Sunday is not kept here, in any true sense of the word, and that it is a work day and a business day, like other days, for not a few, many are prevented from attending church who might otherwise do so. Employers exact service--it is the custom of the country--men must earn their daily bread. It cannot be done, so many say, without this sacrifice, and so they shut themselves out from the privilege of public prayer and praise to Almighty God.

Many of the people, too, live at a distance, and can only attend church occasionally. This is the case with no less than fifteen of the communicants. I might write much in detail of the many things which perplex and embarrass one in doing Christian work in this land, but what I have said may suffice for the present. We have held services on all the principal fasts and festivals of the Church and at such times the attendance has been, considering our numbers and the indifference to Christianity, much above the average.

Our offertory to date amounts to $630.40, in the currency of the country, which thus far has paid all our expenses, exclusive of salary of clergyman, and has enabled me to extend the help of the Church to the poor and needy. We have had several cases of extreme distress to deal with. One man without money, no home, and barely clothes to cover him I succeeded in sending to the United States free of cost. We are now holding our services in the evening, on account of the heat, and so far there has been a fair attendance of men--a thing noticeable in this country because the men, as a rule, do not attend church.

Several attempts have been made, with persons of influence here, to secure permission to build, but it has seemed unwise to push the matter to a decision until the Island of Cuba shall be fairly represented in the Spanish Cortes and the promised reforms distinctly promulged as the law of the land. The representatives of the foreign governments have extended a friendly hand, as always, and have indicated again their willingness to help, and to seek the, co-operation of their respective governments, always providing that our government at home shall take the initiatory step.

Our work has attracted much attention in Spain, likewise in England. I have received several strong letters of sympathy and encouragement from both countries, and recently a draft for £10, which I have turned into the treasury of the Guild. This interest is manifested mainly in behalf of the negro, who seems today to have the sympathy of the whole world. But in this connection I must not withhold from the Guild the fact that there is a growing desire on the part of many abroad, as well as here, and also in the United States, to extend our work to the Cubans and Spaniards on the island. During the winter we received visits from the Rev. J. T. Webster. B. D., of Detroit, Mich., the Rev. Philander Cady, D. D., of Hyde Park, N, Y., the Rev. John Vaughan Lewis, D. D. of Washington, D. D., and from the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Minnesota. Bishop Whipple preached for me, and continued two candidates, and at Easter three new communicants were added to the Church.

Our Easter service was a great success as usual. The floral decorations, it is not too much to say, were magnificent--all offerings from the people and children of our congregation. Easter eggs were provided for the little ones, and the whole service was calculated to inspire again that devotion and adoration which we should all feel and render to our risen Lord. I can truly say that it was a day which filled me with happiness and joy. We have every reason to be thankful for the renewed advantages that we have had the privilege of enjoying, and for the protection which has been afforded us, as well as for the faithfulness and patience of our little flock, considering the difficulties with which we have had to contend during all these years.

During the month of April a gentleman by the name of Manuel Ferri Lopez, a native of Xeres, Spain, came to me seeking to be admitted into the communion of the Church, and asked permission to help us in our church work. After several interviews many circumstances combined to lead me to the belief that he was being led by the Holy Ghost. I admitted him to the Holy Communion on Whitsunday. He now desires to become a candidate for holy orders in the church, and at present is devoting himself to study under my direction, and is showing much earnestness in work among the Chinese and negroes. I need not make comment upon this accession to the Church: its importance must be manifest to all.

During the winter we held a series of services in the harbor of Havana, among the shipping. These services, which are entirely missionary in their character, are always well attended and are marked by such enthusiasm as would put to the blush many a congregation of easy-going Christians in some of our Northern cities; and I am convinced more and more that "they who go down to the sea in ships," deserve our love, our ministrations and our care.


This work continues to have my daily care. At this season of the year it demands my constant attention. Here we are able not only to look after the body for humanity's sake and for Christ's sake, but to change the course of many a life and direct the soul heavenward and Godward. That we are permitted to do this is one of the greatest privileges which we enjoy in this land to-day. During the winter we had but five cases of sickness--mostly small-pox. The yellow fever made its appearance about the middle of April, but thus far we have had fewer cases among our own people than in former years, but enough to make one grieve for the strong and the brave who came here apparently only to die.

Yesterday I buried a darling boy from Scotland, only twelve years of age, who called piteously for his father and mother in his last moments, and to-day I read the burial office over the remains of a captain of one of our largest ships,


Our cemetery remains in the same condition, it is an irregularly shaped piece of land, inclosed by a board fence. It must remain so until enough interest is manifested to make it better. Our dead are at least buried decently, and it. is a blessing for which we cannot be too thankful.


It is estimated that the Chinese in this city number about 13,000. Their condition is a small remove from slavery. This year opportunity has offered to do much among them in a quiet way. Christian literature has been kindly furnished me from the United States in their own language, and by the aid of Prof. Chas. Hasselbrink, who understands their language, and who takes much interest in their welfare, and by the patient work of Mr. Manuel Ferri Lopez, I have been able to distribute among them over two hundred books in the Mandarin tongue. Much enthusiasm has been manifested by them, and they have evinced no little gratitude and as they are fond of reading and very intelligent, it is to be hoped that this work, if continued, may lead to good results. Already application has been made for permission to establish a school among them, to be placed under the care of Professor Hasselbrink, but so far no definite reply has been received from the government.


During the early part of the year correspondence was opened with me touching the welfare of this people, which led to a request from parties whose names unfortunately I may not mention to take charge of a plantation and to secure a clergyman to teach the negroes, numbering over 300, in the principles of morality and religion, to lead them, as the writer of the letters very fitly expresses it, "to love their Saviour." An offer was made at the same time, by the same parties, to pay a liberal salary to any clergyman who might be willing and capable to take charge of such work, and furthermore to pay all expenses of board and travel.

It has rarely happened in the history of Church Mission that any work has been blessed by such an offer. It speaks for itself and needs no further comment.

The correspondence in connection with this matter has been submitted to the Guild from lime to time, and the facts in relation to it have been laid before several of the Bishops, particularly before the Bishop of Long Island, under whose jurisdiction this Mission has recently been placed by the Presiding Bishop. Up to the present time no one has been found to undertake this labor; but if we have a church whose priesthood mean, sacrifice and devotion to the Kingdom of God and His Church, it is to be hoped that this work may shortly find a competent and willing and loving priest to take charge of it.

Steps have been taken recently to establish a Sunday-school for negroes in this city. Several interviews have been held with the authorities in order to secure the necessary permit, and as soon as obtained the school will be opened and placed in charge of Mr. Manuel Ferri Lopez, who has already shown no ordinary zeal in this matter. In the meantime work is being done in a private way, like most of the other mission work, from house to house.

Applications are constantly being made to me for copies of the Holy Bible and the Book of Common Prayer in the Spanish language. Fortunately I am able to furnish these through the kindness of the English and American Societies.

We need reading matter for the sick in all languages, and the Holy Bible in the English, Swedish and Mandarin tongues.

Our student, John Mancebo, who is pursuing his studies at Raleigh, N. C., and looking forward for work at Santiago de Cuba, where he was born, is, as far as I know, doing well.

I have been unable thus far to make my usual visitation to the interior of the Island, and I fear that it will be quite impossible until the Church at home provides the means to support clerical help.

In my Annual Report I shall hope to speak more at length of the several branches of work mentioned in this paper, which is now most respectfully submitted to the consideration of the Guild.

Sincerely and faithfully, &c.,

In charge of Church Work in the Island of Cuba.
HAVANA, July 1, 1870.
To "The Cuba Church Missionary Guild.''



To the Rev. William Tatlock, D. D., Stamford, Conn.


Unfortunately the sad, sad work of the last few weeks has unfitted me for much writing which I intended to do. In truth, for the last few days I have been good for nothing except routine work. Referring to your letter of June 30th. which I have read over and over again, I can only say that my conception of our Mission here seems to be contained in the few objects for which the Cuba Church Missionary Guild was organized. They were drawn up by me and are based upon reports made from time to time to the Bishops, and which they approved both by word and letter. There is no effort being made to make proselytes, none whatsoever, and it has always seemed to me that the object of the Bishops was to place a pure branch of the Church Catholic here among our own people, that the ends of duly and charity might be met and that the people of the Island might have a chance to look at something at least pure and true. I believe the Mission has already been the means of doing much good in this way. Many inquiries have been made and are being made; people come to me for Bibles and Prayer Books, and this year a Cuban and a Spaniard have been added to our communion at their own earnest request and desire, and many more have attended our services. We cannot forbid them the privilege; even the negroes are making application--formal application for help--not only in the country through the owners of plantations, but here in the city through an organization of their own, which is now permitted by law. I shall have much to say to you on this point when I see you. Let me say in brief that the negroes are strangers--Africans. The Church of Rome does not instruct them--does not care for them. If they ask us for help, it seems to me that we must give it to them.

Chinese likewise are strangers--foreigners. A Consul General is now on his way to reside here and to protect them as such. All such work among these people is capable of any enlargement, according to the ability of the Church.

We are at present worshiping in a hall. We need a church building badly. Much of the money must be given in the United States and elsewhere for such purpose, through the channel of our organization at home.

The element here for the most part is an element which has become alienated from all idea of the necessity for a Church, the result naturally of indifference to Christianity. Our congregation proper is composed of people in moderate circumstances--many of them are poor. Our work in this respect is in every sense a Mission, and as the Church in her wisdom has seen lit to authorize and appoint a Mission here, it deserves her fostering care. Our hospital work may be enlarged and benefited by establishing a house for Christian women to act as nurses. I have already had applications from women ready and willing to come here, but have been obliged to refuse them, because I had no home for them-- all this is looking towards the future. Our work among seamen is capable of any enlargement, but in order to such enlargement must depend almost entirely upon the Church at home. This work is not a Chaplaincy simply, it is far, far more--it is a Mission, and the question is, Can our branch of the Church in the United States support such work? The Guild will be the means of testing this question. If we are not able to support it I feel assured that other religious bodies are all ready with men and money to take our place here. In fact, there has been every indication of such readiness within the last two or three years, and it has cost me much quiet effort to keep them off. Most of the people who are, corresponding with me now from abroad are not members of our Church. The same is the case with many in the United States, and if we quit the field they will come and do the work. As far as I am concerned I have nearly ruined my health here; certainly not to encourage a false conservatism, which is driving people from us daily, but to develop, if possible, the broad principles of the, Catholic faith--not in any spirit of a fanatical system of proselytism, but in the spirit of love to heal wounds and to correct the wrong. When Bishop Whittingham wrote as he did I believe he understood the question thoroughly. He has often said to me that if he were a younger man he would guarantee the support of this Mission himself, from his own diocese. We have made mistakes in our southwestern territory--in California and elsewhere--by unnecessary delays. This country must, before many years, undergo a change, and I trust that we may prepare to meet the responsibility. I believe we have a chance to begin--at least in this Mission--and when the next century shall have dawned upon us the Church will not, regret having spent a few thousand dollars in laying foundation stones in the name of Jesus Christ.

The sickness is decreasing rapidly among our own people, simply because vessels are leaving, and there is not so much for the disease to feed upon. It will most likely continue among Spaniards and others through October. I am now preparing to leave, and shall probably sail on the 10th, in the "Morro Castle." I shall hope to be able to see you soon after my arrival.

With best wishes and love, believe me, faithfully and sincerely yours,


August 9, 1879.

P. S.--Of course the first object of the Guild is to support the clergy, who may from time to time be engaged in the work., I shall hope to have a long talk with you soon. I am all worn out at present, and really cannot write much.


JUNE 18, 1879.--"It is almost impossible to write, the weather is so extremely warm and oppressive. During the past two days the rain has come to us in torrents--in floods--and the malaria arising afterwards is far from agreeable. Within the last ten days we have lost two captains with the vomito--terrible cases. Yesterday T read the burial office over the remains of Captain -------- in our Hospital Chapel. He had been dying for three days, and decomposition had set in long before he breathed his last; and at the burial his body was in a terrible state, beyond any description. Only by the constant application of camphor could I get through the service. It made me sick. I caught cold, and to-day I am far from well. Captain --------leaves a dear wife and some children. I wrote to her last night and communicated all the messages which he asked me to send her. He held my hand as he was dying--dear fellow--and thanked me over and over again as he was passing away. I wish some of our church people at home could witness just one such scene; they would never forget it, and might find it in their hearts to endow such a work as this. The trouble is, no one witnesses these scenes but myself; even the friends of the dying and dead keep aloof. Yesterday I said the office for the dead in a deserted chapel, only a few coffin-bearers being outside the door."

JUNE 28, 1879.--"I will write to Dr. Gilman for the Spanish Bibles as desired. How sad it is that the Church to whom the Holy Writings were committed has not the sacred treasure to give to her children! Not that I lay any great stress upon the mere giving away of Bibles, but when God's children ask, they should have them. I have taken two severe colds in succession in burying the dead. One put me in my bed, the other made me miserable and restless, and I feared that, my digestive organs were going to give me desperate trouble."

JULY 9, 1879.--"We have lost four captains, within a few days, with the fever. I pity these poor fellows. We are having the fever in earnest. Three funerals yesterday, and two to-day. I have just left the bedside of three dying men after performing the last office for the living."

JULY 18, 1879.--"We are having indeed a dread time. One hundred and thirty six persons died of yellow fever here yesterday, and the sickness seems to be increasing.

"One dear good fellow died night before last, in a terrible condition. He was crazy even in his last moments, but I do not think he suffered much.

"Yesterday we were compelled to put a straight-jacket on one man. We have lost two American captains within two days. Thirty are now lying sick, extremely ill. We have scenes here daily enough to move hearts of stone."

JULY 29, 1879.--"I have just come from the steamship 'Niagara' (Mr. Ward's line), lying in the harbor. Mr. Elwyn C. Weld, the purser, died on board late this afternoon of the yellow fever. He was a young man, a good friend of mine, and took much interest in our work. We brought his body ashore, after laying it out, and I shall bury him tomorrow. The sickness increases, and it is not only the sick who have to be looked after, but everything else must be taken care of. I visited forty-three sick to-day. It is horrible to see the stages of the disease, and makes me constantly sick."

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