OUR MISSION IN CUBA
OCTOBER 1874 – OCTOBER 1877.
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Diocese of New York, 2013
To the Christian Public.
I beg to call your attention to this report and accompanying papers. This Mission was organized by the House of Bishops of this country six years ago. It is a work of faith. It is dependent for support, entirely upon the contributions of the faithful. It certainly appeals to our national honor, and should, at least, have the support of the Christian men and women of our land. We have been enabled to clear ourselves from indebtedness, and we now need about $2,500 to help us prosecute our plans this year. I cannot beg of you from door to door, as heretofore, and must ask you to send your contributions to Mr. James M. Brown, Treasurer of the Foreign Missionary Committee, 23 Bible House, New York City, who will acknowledge your gift and deposit it with our trustees.
Sincerely and faithfully,
Grand Hotel, N. Y., February, 1878.
OUR MISSION IN CUBA.
REPORT OF THE REV. EDWARD KENNEY.
To The House of Bishops:
Right Reverend Fathers in God:—On the 29th day of October, 1874, after the consideration by your House of the first report of our work for Jesus Christ on the Island of Cuba, when certain resolutions were passed, [*see Appendix] and placed in my hands, I was inspired anew with courage to continue the labor which I had learned to love through many conflicts, and again on the 3th of November, following, when another resolution was passed. [*see Appendix] by your House, which seemed to secure the work against pecuniary embarrassments, your servant was all the more ready, with glad heart and willing mind, to put forth every endeavor for the binding together again in the one fellowship, the scattered and the burdened, the poor and the forsaken in a long neglected land, where indifference and unbelief and corruption, the very worst, prevail, and where Satan seems to reign supreme.
Many obstacles had already been removed and our work was established and recognized, as far as it could be under the laws of Spain then existing. We were holding our services regularly and without interruption in the city of Havana. We were able to take care of the sick and the dying by license from the Government of Cuba, in one of the oldest institutions on the island, to almost call it our own, to give the dead Christian burial, of which they had before been deprived, and, in the face of strong opposition, to extend our labors to other parts of the island amongst our own from every clime, for there was then as now a foreign population, scattered throughout the island, numbering over 9,000 souls, for the most part indifferent and careless. Our work was then exclusively amongst these strangers, and [4/5] was done from house to house, and by personal appeal to attend the services of the Church, for we are not permitted to use the public press, or to post notices. Nothing outside of the Romish worship had ever been tolerated on the Island before, and we were compelled to work prudently and slowly, relying upon the power and guidance of the Holy Ghost to increase our strength from day to day, and to enable us by force of example to induce the wanderers to come home. We have been doing the same work during the past three years without hindrance, endeavoring to avoid even the appearance of strife, although in the midst of confusion and crime, and our Heavenly Father has blessed and is blessing us by the increase of a holy zeal amongst the few, by teaching us the virtue of the sacrifice of self, and by gathering the lost, one by one, within the fold of Jesus Christ. The services of the Church have been held regularly at Havana, and without interruption during the past three years, except at such times when I have been compelled to come to the United States to look for money to carry on the work and for my own support. Throughout this time there has been a gradual growth in all that pertains to our Church life. A greater interest has been manifested, not only amongst the few, who are steadfastly at work in the line of duty, but also amongst the many who have hitherto paid little or no attention to the claims of the visible kingdom of Christ.
Help has come to us in channels where we least expected it. There has been a movement from all sides in the right direction, slow, but steady and sure, and showing signs of the presence and illuminating power of God the Holy Ghost. The average attendance at our services has been better. A more reverent attitude has been observed in the public worship. The Book of Common Prayer has been used and studied more than ever before. During the past year alone, I have had applications for, and have given away over 60 copies of the Spanish edition of our Prayer Book. There is a growing desire to learn about the Church and her ritual, her government and her discipline, and the suggestion has been made that a proper preface be written by one of our Bishops, explanatory of the Church and her claims, and bound up with the Spanish edition of The Book of Common Prayer. I would add, in this connexion, that the position of [5/6] the Church is not understood in Cuba. We are associated in the Spanish mind with every thing which lies outside of Roman Catholicism. About three months ago, two Spanish merchants came to the morning service at Havana, to gratify curiosity. During the service one remarked to the other, "Why! They worship God;" and again in great surprise, "Why! They worship Jesus Christ!" I cite this simply as one instance, out of the many which occur daily, of the gross ignorance which prevails on the subject of Christianity and the Catholic Faith. We have been able each year to hold a series of services in the harbor of Havana for our brave seamen; the attendance has always been large, and the worship hearty. On Trinity Sunday of this year we were able to establish a Sunday school in the suburbs of the city of Havana. It is in charge of two ladies, communicants of the Church and thus far has proven a success. Our hospital at Havana is a main feature of our work; here we are able to take care of the foreign sick. Since my last report the institution has been moved and many improvements have been made, the rooms are more comfortable, and the nursing is the best that can be had, under the present system of hired nurses. We are able to take care of all who come to us, and we have also perfect freedom in our ministrations, a blessing for which we cannot be too thankful when we consider that five years ago such work was not allowed on the island; the sick and the dying were left without the consolations of religion, and the dead were deprived of Christian burial. During the last three years 5,400 visits have been made to the sick, and during the same time we have had 258 deaths, nearly all from yellow fever, in the institution. I cannot lay too much stress on this branch of our work, it has already cost a hard struggle, much anxiety, and many heart-breaks. It is a work amongst our own people, amongst brave men who come to us, sometimes only to die and to be buried in a strange land. It is a work which needs help; it cannot be continued longer without it, and in behalf of those who suffer more than I am able to express or describe, I earnestly beg that some permanent provision be made, for the furtherance and continuance of this labor of love which our Heavenly Father has so richly blessed.
During the month of March, 1875, the Bishop of Minnesota, [6/7] accompanied by the Bishop of Huron, Canada, made a visit to the city of Havana. During their stay, the Bishop of Minnesota ministered the rite of Confirmation to six persons. Within the past few months steps have been taken to establish an English High School or College at Havana. We have long felt the need of such an institution in this metropolis. Parents at the present time are compelled to take governesses into their families, who for the most part are incompetent; thus the school discipline is either neglected, or, as in most cases, entirely set aside. Then again, strangers residing here by courtesy of the Spanish crown, are compelled either to resort to such mode of instruction, or else send their children to the schools of Europe or America. I do not look for immediate success in this important matter, as there are many, many obstacles in the way, but the prospectus is already in form to be presented to the Captain General for his approval; and it has the best wishes and influence of gentlemen high in authority, who are anxious for the establishment of such a school, where English, and English only, shall be taught in all its various branches of learning. Since my last report I have been able to make annual visitations to the interior of the island, to give lectures in private, and to hold services when it was possible to do so. I have been compelled, however, to suspend our Sunday services at the city of Matanzas, and to give up all idea of work at the city of Cardenas for the present, owing, in part, to failing health and the wretched condition of our treasury, which has made it impossible to provide for assistance.
During the year 1876, one of the largest estates on the island was placed under my spiritual direction, numbering about six hundred souls. A parish register was then opened. I baptized eight adults and two children, and held one marriage service, and many are now preparing for baptism and confirmation. Much has grown out of this work with which I have had little or nothing to do. One school has been established which is, according to recent advices, in a flourishing condition, and another will shortly be opened. Everything in connection with our work on the Island of Cuba seems to be moving in the right direction; but there is much indifference and little or no enthusiasm. The quiet example of a few earnest Christians [7/8] is beginning to have a marked effect upon the many who have hitherto kept aloof from us, proving the truth of that lesson of the gospel, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump."
The following figures may give some idea of the result of our work for three years:—
Number of Baptisms 39
Number Confirmed 6
Number of Marriages I2
Number of Deaths 271
Number of Visitations to the sick 5400
Number of Candidates preparing for baptism 32
Number of Candidates preparing for confirmation 42
Number at Havana 4
Number at Matanzas l
Number at Cardenas 1
Number at ___ Plantation 36
Number of Communicants 31
Number at Havana 30
Number at Matanzas l
I transmit with this report the reports of our Treasurer, Mr. Benjamin E. Lawton, of Havana, for the three years ending October 1st, proximo, together with the report of our Trustees, Messrs S. and W. Welsh, of Philadelphia. These reports show an indebtedness at the present time of $1,369.36.
From month to month since my last report I have not known where to look to make provision for our expenses during the next. Everything has been uncertain; promises have been broken, and we have simply toiled on in the dark; each year has marked a struggle for the very life of the work. At times it has seemed almost impossible to go on, and circumstances rendered it equally impossible for us to turn back. And yet our mission has prospered beyond expectation, and God has blessed all our endeavors. We have now come to the close of another year, and in debt. We are endeavoring to provide a permanent place for our services at Havana. Some place which we can call home—which shall be a centre for all work. During the last [8/9] five years we have been worshipping in the saloon of our largest hotel at Havana, which we have been able to hire for that purpose. It is not advisable for us to hold our services here any longer, if we can possibly avoid it, for reasons which I cannot explain in this report.
On the 15th Sunday after Trinity, I called a parish meeting to consider this question, and after some deliberation a committee of seven was appointed to provide for this pressing need. They met together on the following Thursday, September 13th, and after a careful interchange of views on the subject, passed the following resolutions, with the request that they be incorporated in the triennial report to the House of Bishops:—
"Resolved, That we are anxious for the continuance of this much needed work which has been the means of cheering so many hearts.
"Resolved, That in the present condition of Cuba, and considering the indifference which is manifested toward Christianity, and the prudent manner in which this work has to be done, that this mission must depend for the most part for its support, upon the American Church.
"Resolved, That we are anxious that some definite provision be made for the maintenance of our clergyman, and for such assistance as he needs.
"Resolved, That we will do all in our power towards the furtherance of this Christian undertaking, but before attempting to provide the much needed house for our services, we await the action of the bishops and clergy of the American Church."
The subscriptions to our work at Havana amount to $578 in Spanish gold, for the current year mostly from persons who do not attend Church. We have an Offertory at every service which is beginning to be recognized as an act of worship. It amounted to $241 in Spanish paper last year. It amounts to $1,000 in the same currency, which is worth less than half of its face value, this, which I am very happy to say, shows a growing earnestness and desire on the part of those who attend these services, to do what they can for their support.
It has been suggested that the time has come when greater publicity may be given to our work. If the suggestion meets with your approval, I ask for our Mission the consideration of the whole Church [9/10] in both houses of our General Council; and that some measures be taken to clear us from our present indebtedness; and also that some system or plan may be formed by which the whole Church may contribute towards the support of a work which promises to be the means of blessing an entire people in the future. If such action cannot be taken, and the much needed support and assistance cannot be granted by and through some co-operative system at home, after all these years of struggle and labor, your servant most humbly begs to be relieved from all care of, and responsibility for, the mission; and to be freed from present financial embarrassment. The work is certainly one which appeals very strongly to all our hearts, because it is peculiarly Christ's work amongst poverty, suffering, profligacy and distress; and in submitting this report I earnestly beg and pray that it may have all the aid and protection that the militant Church can give.
In charge of the Church's Work on the Island of Cuba.
Havana, Cuba, October, 1877.
To the Rt. Rev. Benjamin B. Smith, D.D., LL.D., Presiding Bishop.
DOCUMENTS RELATING TO OUR WORK ON
THE ISLAND OF CUBA.—LETTERS, ETC.
Christian Work on the Island of Cuba.
New Orleans, March 16th, 1875.
It has been our privilege as Bishops of sister Churches, which are one in a common faith, to visit the Island of Cuba. We desire to tell you of work which may be done there for the salvation of men and for the glory of God. In 1871 Bishop Whipple of Minnesota, visited Havana. There was a large population of English, German, Swiss and American Protestants, without the ministrations of religion. They were not only deprived of the help and comforts of public worship—they had no one to administer the Sacraments or give the dead a Christian burial. It was a wrong to our brave seaman and a dishonor to ourselves, that, while Spain guaranteed freedom of worship, we left our own people without spiritual care.
Bishop Whipple sent out the Rev. Edward Kenney in 1871. He is a devout, earnest and prudent man. Under great difficulties and some opposition, he has gone on quietly with his work. He has been at death's door by the yellow fever. His work has been confined to the foreign population. Public services are held every Sunday in the saloon of one of the hotels. One of the largest hospitals is under his spiritual care. He has baptized thirty persons, buried one hundred and twenty-five persons, and made over four thousand visits to the sick and dying. The time has come when this work ought to be placed upon a more secure foundation. We must rent a suitable building and provide for the support of the Pastor. We must soon provide for similar services in other cities. The Consul-General of Great Britain, Mr. Dunlop, the Consul-General of the German Empire, Mr. Zach, the Consul-General of the United States, Mr. Hall, and Mr. Beck and Mr. Lawton, have consented to act as a committee to receive and expend contributions.
Having been permitted, by the Providence of God, to see this work, and realizing its great necessity, we make this statement, and ask the aid of yourself and friends. We believe that it has been carried on in the broad spirit of Christian love and deserves the alms and prayers of all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth. Your gift may be sent to "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel," or ''The Colonial and Continental Society," London; the Missionary Committee of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 23 Bible House, New York; Messrs. S. & W. Welsh, Philadelphia, or to Benjamin E. Lawton, 13 Mercaderes street, Havana.
Assuring you of our kind regard, we are your brothers in Christ,
H. B. WHIPPLE, Bishop of Minnesota, U. S.
I. HURON, Bishop of the Diocese of Huron, Canada.
REPORT OF THE REV. EDWARD KENNEY.
Cuban Work, Nov. 1871 to Nov. 1874.
TO THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS.
Right Rt. Fathers in God:—In as few words as possible, I wish to give some account of the Cuban Church work which you authorized and appointed during the month of October, 1871.
Soon after the adjournment of the General Convention of 1871, difficulties arose in regard to the work, which, for a time, threatened to put a stop to it altogether. These difficulties grew out of a correspondence between our government and the authorities of Cuba; and when I consulted with the Hon. Secretary of State he advised the abandonment of the work, on the ground of its being an extremely hazardous undertaking. These difficulties are well known to the Bishops of Maryland, New York and Minnesota, and to Mr. William Welsh, of Philadelphia; and it is unnecessary for me to comment upon them now, except to say that, after consultation with my own Diocesan, the Bishop of Maryland, he advised me to take my letter of instructions, sail for Cuba, and endeavor to do that which had been committed to me.
I left New York on the 23d of November, 1871, and when I reached Havana was advised by our Consul-General and others to return home, as nothing could be done. The advice was well meant, but I was unwilling to take it. I sought opportunity to fulfill the trust which the Church had committed to me. God helped me; and now, with thanksgiving to Him who hath done it all, I am able to report that our Church work is established on the Island of Cuba.
Prior to the time when the Bishop of Minnesota visited Cuba, English, German, Scotch and American Protestants on the island were deprived of all religious ministrations, and it was a punishable offence for any clergyman, outside of the Romish priesthood, to hold a service, either publicly or privately, for the people. Five years prior to the Bishop's visit, burial was refused to the Protestant dead, and the sick and the dying were cut off from all consolation, except such as might be given by a corrupt ministry; and the fact that thousands and thousands of our own people and others have sickened and died in this way, now calls upon us to provide some permanent remedy for the future. This state of things has existed so long that the majority of our own people have lost all faith in Christianity, and their children are growing up in the same path of unbelief and infidelity.
There are over 2000 registered Americans on the island, about the same number of Germans, and a large English population. These have become almost entirely alienated from Christianity and Christian habits, and as they are living amongst a people probably the most corrupt in every particular on the face of our globe to-day, we cannot wonder at their course, especially when we consider that no one has been sent to teach them, and, by Christian living, convince them of the love of Christ which passeth knowledge.
I have found concubinage, and the worst kind of evil living amongst them. In hundreds of cases the law of marriage is entirely disregarded. I am now speaking solely of the religious status of foreigners. I speak of these alone. I think only of remedying this great evil first, because once having remedied such an evil, we shall have a sufficient Christian force to uproot the seat of the corruption, of which it is not wise now even to speak. I found that many of the children of our own people had been baptized in the Romish faith, and many, many more unbaptized, and their parents indifferent about the matter. I am baptizing [12/13] and ministering amongst these people as fast as I can find them out, but I am all alone, and it is necessarily slow work.
During the first year of our work on the island, I held our services in the harbor of Havana, under the guns of one of our largest Monitors. We had large congregations and many communicants, hearty responses and good Church music. I next sought refuge on shore at the United States Consulate, and having crept along thus far, I next held our services in a large saloon in the heart of the city, and have continued this work for nearly two years. The number of communicants at Havana ranges from 30 to 60. During the second year of our work on the Island I opened a mission at the city of Matanzas, 62 miles from Havana. During that year I held evening service there every Sunday. I have been compelled of late to limit my work there to every other Sunday. I need a clergyman for this place, and also for a mission which I have organized at the city of Cardenas, 120 miles from Havana, during the last year.
I wish now to lay some stress upon the work amongst the sick, the dying and the dead. Hundreds of Protestant people die at Havana and at the other seaports every year, of yellow fever. Through the courtesy of the Political Governor I have secured the charge of one of the oldest hospitals on the island, and in this institution I have been able to care for the sick and the dying, and to bury the dead. When I commenced our work in this institution our dead were being buried like beasts—without coffins, and frequently the clothes were torn from the bodies, and naked and without a word of sympathy or a prayer, our dead were consigned to a pit or trench. We now have a plot of ground outside of the city, where the dead are buried decently in coffins. This is a work which must be cared for and the fact that we are endeavoring to do it, and are confronting and conquering the usages of the past, gives greater strength to the cause of Christianity on the Island of Cuba, than all the sermons that might be preached.
During the last two years I have made nearly 4000 visits to the sick and the dying, and during the sickly season our burial office has been read, on an average, almost daily in the institution. I did my best last year to provide a chaplain for the hospital, but failed to secure the money to pay for such assistance. During the month of February last, I organized a Sunday school at the city of Havana. It contains 22 scholars, and I teach it myself. I hope to make it the foundation of a day-school for boys and girls. I have already formed from it a Confirmation class, consisting of four of the oldest scholars. About one year ago a young Creole from Santiago de Cuba presented himself to the Bishop of Long Island to be educated for this work. He is now pursuing his preparatory studies in New York City under my direction.
I submit with this report, the reports of our Treasurer, Mr. Benjamin E. Lawton, for the years 1871, 1872, 1873 and 1874, and the general account of the Trustees in the United States, Messrs. S. and W. Welsh, of Philadelphia. These papers explain themselves. Since the 1st of October, 1872, I have begged all of the money for carrying on this work, and now, as I write this report, I know not where the funds are coming from to pay expenses for the coming year.
I need, at the least, two prudent men to assist me. I need the money to support them and for my own support. In the present financial embarrassment in Cuba I am able to secure but little, comparatively speaking, there.
During the greater part of last year Spanish bank bills were at 150 per cent discount, and even when we are able to secure this money for Christ's work its real value amounts to almost nothing. The Consul-General of the German Empire, resident at Havana, has issued a circular calling upon his countrymen to aid our work, and suggests that steps be taken at once to obtain permission for the building of a chapel at Havana. The Consuls-General of Great Britain and the United States advise and suggest the same course, and I humbly beg that steps [13/14] may be taken to further this plan, and to place our work upon such a sure foundation as may insure for it the confidence and support of American Churchmen, and the sympathy and support of the Church throughout the world. I would here add that the Bishop of London is now working in our behalf.
Our work has been published in Liverpool, England, and I have already received many words of sympathy from the Rector of St. Paul's Church, Liverpool, and a draft for £17.
In charge of the Church's Work on the Island of Cuba.
To the Committee: Rt. Rev. The Bishop of Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Long Island.
RESOLUTIONS OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS.
The Bishops in Council.
St. John's Chapel, New York, October 29th, 1874.
From the Minutes: The Bishop of Pennsylvania presented and read a report from the Rev. Edward Kenney, a Presbyter of this Church, acting as a missionary in Cuba, and offered the following resolutions, viz:
Resolved, That the Bishops in Council hereby express their deep interest in, and hearty sympathy with, the work of the Rev. Mr. Kenney in Cuba, the report of which has just been read.
Resolved, That this Council cordially endorses the appeal of the Rev. Mr. Kenney for means.—
1. To support himself, and needed assistants, and
2. For a fund, which can be used at the discretion of Mr. Kenney, for such cases of need as appeal to him for help in his hospital and pastoral work.
Resolved, That each Bishop be requested to make, if possible, some collection, in such way as he shall think best, for this work, and to enable Mr. Kenney to secure at least two assistants in his important mission.
November 3d, 1874.
On motion of the Bishop of Albany, it was
Resolved, That a committee of five Bishops be appointed to take charge of the matter of making pecuniary provision for the continuance of Church work in Cuba.
The chair appointed the Bishops of New York, Pennsylvania, Long Island, Albany and Massachusetts.
Attest: Wm. Tatlock, Acting Secretary.
RESOLUTION OF THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS.
 The House of Bishops, recently assembled in Council, passed the following Resolution, On motion of the Bishop of Maryland:
"Resolved, That the Bishops in council assembled, authorize their commission to declare that the Rev. Edward Kenney is officiating in Cuba by their appointment, and with their entire approval of his work and course thus far."
According to the purpose of the above resolution, I hand it to the Rev. Mr. Kenney, to be used by him as it shall seem fitted to promote his undertaking.
Bishop of New York.
New York, Nov. 5th, 1875.
LETTERS FROM PROMINENT CLERGYMEN.
___ January 14th, 1878.
My Dear ___ I beg to introduce the Rev. Mr. Kenney, our missionary in Cuba. Perhaps I should rather call him the appointee of the House of Bishops to the care of the 9,000 Protestants in the island chiefly Americans, including our sailors. The Foreign Committee have not adopted it, having a heavy debt on their hands for their experiments in Africa and China. He wants and needs cooperation, and if you have any hesitation about adding this to your interests, as I had, I think you and your people only need to hear his statement (which is exceedingly well told) to give him the benefit of the doubt. My own conclusion has been, that if our aid to this Cuban work should turn out to interfere with any thing else in the way of Foreign Missions, this Cuban work should have the right of way.
Faithfully Yours, ___
___ January 21st, 1878.
My Dear Doctor ___ The bearer of this note the Rev. Edward Kenney was sent out by the House of Bishops six years ago to take charge of our Missionary work in Cuba. He will tell his own story to you, and if you think best to your people. He needs no indorsement, but I must say that the impression which his statement made upon the worshippers of Trinity Church yesterday was very great. All were interested in him and his work. Both the importance and the freshness of it conduced to that result. I feel sure that a knowledge of what Rev. Mr. Kenney is doing will kindle in almost every one who hears him, a desire to help him.
Yours Faithfully, ___