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Annual Address of
The Rt. Rev. Hiram Richard Hulse, D.D.
Bishop of the Missionary District of Cuba

Delivered before the
Sixteenth Annual Convocation
of the Church in the Missionary District of Cuba
Held in Holy Trinity Cathedral, Havana
June 21-22, 1922

[Extracted from the Journal of the said Convocation]



Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2011

Brethren of the Clergy and Laity of the Missionary District of Cuba

Peace be unto you and grace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The affairs of the Church in the District of Cuba have been cared for in the usual manner during the past year. There has been healthy growth in some places and in others we have held our own.

During the year just past the Church at large has been called on to lament the untimely death of the Rt. Rev. Troy Beatty, D. D., Bishop Coadjutor of Tennessee. Among our own Clergy the Rev. J. A. Holdcroft of La Gloria has been called to his reward and of the faithful laity Col. R. E. Ulbright of the Cathedral Congregation in Havana has entered into the rest remaining unto the people of God.

There have been some changes in the list of the clergy. The Reverend Wm. Watson has removed to Mexico. The Reverend H. B. Gibbons, D. D., has left Cuba for an indefinite period although his name still remains on our clergy list. The Reverend K. L. Houlder has been transferred to us from the Missionary District of New Mexico.

At the end of last summer a number of the clergy were shifted about to different cures; the result has been beneficial to the work and I think has also contributed to the happiness and comfort of the clergy. I believe that our work would profit if other changes of the same sort were made but it is an expensive undertaking to move a number of clergymen with their families over any distance of Cuba.

Sr. Ferro was moved from Santa Cruz del Norte to Marianao and appointed as teacher in the Boy's School. The Reverend S. E. Carreras was moved from Camaguey to Santa Cruz del Norte; the Reverend Juan McCarthy from La Gloria to Camaguey and the Reverend J. A. Holdcroft from Guantánamo to La Gloria. The Reverend J. M. Lopez-Guillén on returning from a year's leave of absence was appointed Archdeacon of Oriente, with headquarters for the present at Guantánamo.

[14] The Reverend K. L. Houlder was appointed last September by the Seaman's Church Institute of America to act as Chaplain for seamen in Havana. We were able to arrange that this work should be carried on in connection with the Marine branch of the Y. M. C. A. In addition to the work among sailors he has also been able to initiate a general City-Mission work, visiting the prisons and hospitals and holding services for all sorts and conditions of people. This has been a most useful and necessary work and I trust that we can continue and enlarge it. Its success has been largely due to the energy and judgment of the Reverend Mr. Houlder.

We have had an unusual number of Americans in Havana during the past Winter who for one reason or another were in distress. These have been poor people to be helped, tramp, and drunkards to be sent back where they belonged, so that they would no longer disgrace us in the eyes of the Cubans; sick people to get into hospitals and visited afterwards and, unfortunately poor folk in jail, some innocent, more guilty, but all human beings needing the help of the Church. Mr. Houlder has helped them all impartially to the extent of his ability. I ask for him the continuance of your support and your prayers. You can safely use him as your agent in the distribution of your charities in this respect.

The general financial situation in Cuba is still uncertain, which has had its effect on the contributions for Church purposes, in the main, however, they have held up very well. As they did not increase with prosperous times so they have not fallen off with hard times.

Our offerings for General Missions are larger than those of any other Foreign Missionary District. But I believe that they should be still larger. For the past two years the assessment for Convocation expenses has not been sufficient to pay for printing the Journal and I have had to meet the deficit myself. This year the assessment ought to be large enough to meet all expenses.

Those of you who live near Havana find that the expense of attending the Convocation is very small, but those who live at a distance find that the expense is very large and sometimes find it difficult to come on that account. The canon provides that the expense shall be met by the mission, but I am afraid that that is rarely done, and there is no reason why the Mission at Guantánamo should pay ten times as much as the mission at Matanzas for this purpose. The fairer way would be for the Convocation to pay a certain amount of mileage to each delegate and assess the cost on the missions as part of the Convocation expenses. This would add [14/15] considerably to our expenses but I am convinced not beyond our ability to pay, and would make it possible for all the clergy to attend the Convocation at an equal expense.

No new work has been started during the year, but work which has been discontinued has been reestablished, and I have found in many places a new enthusiasm which has been most encouraging. We are still hampered by lack of workers, especially those who can speak both languages. Our fellow churchmen from Jamaica are still coming to Cuba. We find them especially in Oriente and Camaguey. Where we can look after them in a permanent way good missions are being built up. But we have many more opportunities than we can take advantage of, two new workers could be placed at once in the Province of Camaguey and if they spoke both languages could organize congregations that would soon be largely self-supporting. We also need workers in Guantánamo and La Gloria.

The work on the Isle of Pines has been greatly helped through the opening of a new school in Nueva Gerona. We now own four church buildings, one rectory and one school on the Isle of Pines. Economic conditions are better there than last year and show signs of continued improvement.

The opening of the new school building in Guantánamo last September was a great event in the history of the Parish. It has added to the strength of the work there and also to the convenience of the teachers. It has been more than full this year and others are clamoring for admission. If its capacity could be doubled it would soon be full.

Last July we were able to purchase the building that we had been using for a Church in Camaguey. While it is poorly located, being on a side street it is already entirely too small for our congregation. The work here has been advancing during the past year most satisfactorily. If we could get a church and a school in a suitable location I am convinced that we could do a large work in this growing city.

The School for boys in Marianao has had a successful year. The parents of the children have all been satisfied with the progress made. I am sure that if we could find a good location for the school at a price which we could afford to pay that it would soon be an important element in strengthening the church and in improving the social life of the country.

Three new buildings have been added to our material plant during the year. One of them the school at Nueva Gerona being paid for by contributions made by the congregation of the Cathedral, while the expenses of remodeling it was met from contributions given locally. This is the first of all our [15/16] buildings which has been paid for by the District without asking for anything from outside.

This addition to our material equipment is gratifying but we still need a great deal more in this respect. Necessary as it is, however, we must not put too much confidence in material equipment. When we have all that we wish for we must remember that it cannot do the work for us; it is nothing but a tool in our hands, something given for us to use.

The primitive church won its great victories when it had very little material equipment. No churches, no schools, no hospitals. It worshipped in private houses, it had no endowments, no social prestige, but it spread like leaven through society, converting men and women here and there until it had honeycombed the whole Roman Empire and was the only force strong enough to hold the Empire together. That was because the early Church was not thinking of itself, not aiming to add to its power or influence. It was thinking only of doing the work it was placed here in this world to do.

We live in a material world and only become cognisant of the life of the spirit as we see it manifest in a body. So far as we can see at present in the conditions under which we live a body is absolutely necessary.

The spirit of man needs a body. It comes to consciousness of itself in a body. It uses the body as an instrument by means of which it can work its will on the world and accomplish its purpose and it grows and develops as it thus uses the body, comes to clearer knowledge of itself and to stronger purpose.

Yet while the body is thus absolutely necessary to the growth and development of the spirit it is also at times the greatest hindrance to the proper development of the spirit. The bodily passions and appetites and desires lead the spirit astray. When we think of the body as an end in itself and pamper it and satisfy its wants and live for it then the spirit shrivels up within us. Men have recognized this and have tried to provide against the dangers coming to us from the body by asceticism, denying the body the things it needs, starving it and macerating it, and crucifying the flesh. That way is just as fatal as the way of self-satisfaction; the body was given us for use and not for abuse.

The only way to overcome the evil these bodily temptations bring is to put the body in its place once for all as a splendid tool to be used by the spirit. There is no use trying to overcome them one by one, while you are getting the best of this temptation another will crop up; but if we can consistently bring ourselves to regard the body as nothing but a tool to be used by the spirit then everything will fall into its [16/17] proper place. A wise workman keeps his tools in good condition so that they are always ready for use when he needs them. A wise man keeps his body in good condition for the same reason; he neither pampers nor starves the body because both are injurious, regarding it only as a means towards a higher end, he is saved from the temptation to self-indulgence.

As the spirit of a man needs a body as an instrument for self-development, self-expression, and to work its will on the outside world so the spirit of Christianity needs a body, an organization for the same purposes. That organization it has produced in the Church. In the Church Christianity has come to consciousness, come to have a growing knowledge of its purpose here and has used the Church as an instrument to work its will on the world and accomplish its purpose. For these purposes the Church has been an absolute necessity and still is.

We look at the pervasive influence of Christianity, see how its spirit has touched and uplifted and changed all the interests of life, extending out far beyond organized Christianity, being felt indeed in heathen lands and among people who have never heard of Christ, and sometimes we think that the Church is no longer needed, it has done its work, and that therefore Christianity could live on as an influence in the heart of humanity. Not so. The Church, the body of Christianity is still needed. If it were to break down and disappear Christianity itself would fade away and its influence dissipate into thin air. The Church is the center, the heart, from which these influences are constantly being sent out to the world. When the heart stops beating the blood ceases to circulate. If the Church were to stop working Christian influences would stop operating just as surely.

While the Church is thus necessary to the continued manifestation of the Spirit it may also become a great hindrance to the spread of Christianity just as the body may hinder the growth of the spirit of man, and for the same reason, because we regard it as an end in itself. When we concentrate our attention on the Church, bend all our efforts to increase its power and wealth and influence and lose sight of the purpose for which it exists then the Church becomes a great obstacle in the way of the extension of the spirit's influence.

One of the great tragedies of history is the way in which men have thus defeated their own purpose. They have thought that they were obeying their Lord's command when they were building up the Church, adding to its endowments, increasing its lands, erecting huge buildings, organizing great institutions. When all the time they have only been throwing barricades in the road to hinder the triumphal onward march of the King.

[18] The Church exists not for its own glory, to add to its own strength and power or to increase its riches but to spread the Kingdom of God. If we can only keep that definitely before our minds then we will be able properly to use all the wealth men are likely to entrust us with. Just as it is foolish to starve the body in order to keep it under so it is foolish to think that we can save the Church by keeping it poor.

The task before the Church is tremendous. It is nothing less than that of converting every man, woman and child in the world into citizens of the Kingdom. Going out into heathen lands and reaching out after men one by one and converting each man individually and then helping him to find his place in the kingdom: going out into Christian lands and edifying the great body of believers, instructing the young, converting sinners, bringing each individual soul into personal relations with Christ, his master, and then through the influence of these citizens of the kingdom gradually modifying and uplifting and transforming all human institutions, the family, the state, business, education, recreation, social life; making them all over until these human institutions reflect the spirit of the kingdom, and all these human activities are carried on in obedience to the laws of the King.

Is not that a stupendous task and one which will require all the power we possess? Is it likely that we will ever have more wealth and strength than will be necessary to accomplish such an end? No, the remedy is not in keeping the Church poor, the remedy is in keeping the Church constant to its task.

Unfortunately the temptations of wealth have often proved too much for us and the days of the Church's greatest outward power and strength have not been the days of its greatest spiritual influence. There was a time in the Middle Ages when the outward power and wealth of the Church was enormous. A large part of the land of Western Europe became Church property, much of the industry of the country was carried on by the Church, and the Church's officials were among the most powerful officers of the state, and this was the time when the spiritual power of the Church was at a low ebb. All this material wealth was used to promote the comfort and convenience of the leaders in the Church and its mission was largely forgotten.

As we try to build up the outward body of the Church, we must avoid that danger and the way to avoid it is to concentrate our attention on the Church's work. We were not ordained to build up the Church, we were ordained to spread the kingdom and we are to judge of our success or failure as we are able to do this.

[19] If the members of the Church in their different communities are distinguished from the rest of the citizens by more scrupulous honesty, greater public spirit, a keener sense of justice, a wider charity and a more dependable character then the Church is doing its work whether we are worshipping in a Cathedral or a rented house.

We may build large churches and have fine parish houses and comfortable rectories and large grounds and considerable endowments but if our members carry on their business like bloodsuckers and their politics like pirates then our work is a failure.

To do our work properly we need better equipment, more tools, but do not let us put our trust overmuch in such things and think that we can do nothing without them. Let us use such resources as we have to the best advantage, keeping ever in mind that the end of our work in any town is not to put up a new church but to change the life of the community and the new church when we get it is only a tool to be used toward that end.

We must never forget that we have at our command great spiritual resources which are largely independent of all this outward wealth. The power of prayer, the influence of the truth spoken in love, the unseen and hidden operations of the spirit working in the hearts and minds of men and cooperating with our feeble efforts. All these are on our side when we devote ourselves to the spread of the kingdom and we can count upon them with sure confidence and it is these which will finally give us the victory.

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