Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cuban Baptists Advocate for Church-State Separation

Ethics Daily ran my latest article today, which is titled "Cuban Baptists Advocate for Church-State Separation." It is the second in a three-part series on my recent trip to Cuba to attend the 40th anniversary celebration of the Coordination of Baptist Workers and Students in Cuba (COEBAC) and visit other ministry sites of Cuban Baptists. Today's piece focuses on the remarks of Raúl Suárez, a longtime Baptist leader in Cuba and member of the National Assembly of People's Power (Cuba's national parliament) on the separation of church and state. He offers some great comments that many U.S. Baptists need to hear. A photo I took of Suárez ran with the piece.

Jefferson Citian joins Baptist delegation on Cuba trip

The Jefferson City News-Tribune ran a nice article on my recent trip to Cuba. The piece is titled "Jefferson Citian joins Baptist delegation on Cuba trip." It offers some details about the Churchnet delegation and includes several quotations from me. I am thankful for the opportunity to share more about the trip.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

U.S., Cuban Baptists Build Bridges During Celebration

Ethics Daily ran my latest article today, which is titled "U.S., Cuban Baptists Build Bridges During Celebration." It is the first in a three-part series about my recent trip to Cuba to attend the 40th anniversary celebration of the Coordination of Baptist Workers and Students in Cuba (COEBAC) and visit other ministry sites of Cuban Baptists. Today's piece offered an overview about the COEBAC meeting and the Churchnet delegation to Cuba. It includes some comments from the COEBAC meeting and from Churchnet Vice President Forestal Lawton. It also includes a photo I took of COEBAC General Secretary Eduardo Gonzalez (one of our two hosts throughout the trip in Cuba). The next two articles will cover content from the COEBAC meeting in greater detail.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Some Cuba Photos

I have enjoyed reliving my recent week in Cuba by sorting through photos (which is a lot since with digital cameras I figure why not take a photo). I am splitting them into various albums to share so there is not one massive one. Here are the first three albums, with some captions to help tell the story. But feel free to ask questions in the comment sections of the photos and I will add more details about what is in the picture. I will post more albums later this week.

The key event I attended in Cuba was the 40th anniversary celebration of the Coordinación Obrero-Estudiantil Bautista de Cuba (Coordination of Baptist Workers & Students in Cuba). The group, usually called COEBAC, seeks to help Cuban Baptists engage in their context and society. The album from that meeting primarily features speakers: Cuba, part 1 (COEBAC)

The two-day COEBAC event occurred in Ciego de Ávila (a city in the middle of the island). Other than Havana (coming in a later album), Ciego is where I spent the most time in Cuba. I enjoyed the time in that city and hope the album captures it: Cuba, part 2 (Ciego de Ávila)

In addition to joining the COEBAC meeting at a Baptist church, we also visited a Baptist church in Pinar del Río, the seminary of the Western Baptist Convention in Havana, and the offices of the Cuban Council of Churches in Havana. These various visits to Christian groups are combined in one album: Cuba, part 3 (Christian groups)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thanks & Gracias

Late last night (actually early this morning) I returned home after spending just over a week in Cuba. I joined a Churchnet delegation to visit Cuban Baptists, which involved seeing several parts of the island nation and joining an important Cuban Baptist anniversary gathering. It was a great trip, and I will cover it in much more detail in news articles, blog reflections, and photos over the next several days. Today, however, I have focused on catching up on things I missed and playing with my son. I also have attempted to decompress after spending a week in a different context and culture. I caught myself several times just before saying "gracias" to someone instead of "thanks." Images of Cuba keep bouncing in my head, often clashing with those presently before my eyes.

As I caught up on emails and other items today, I noticed an Ethics Daily column by Robert Parham on "Word of Thanks: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due." His piece offers thanks to the various members of the Ethics Daily team who together make the organization a top-notch source of news, opinion, video, and more. He rightly sings high praise of Cliff Vaughn, Zach Dawes, Michael Leathers, Joel Emerson, and Brittany Jackson.

Parham did not toot his own horn, but he deserves much praise. Ethics Daily literally (and I use that word that correctly and not in the Joe Biden way) would not exist without his vision and tireless work. He has enriched Baptist life by filling voids left by misplaced priorities of fundamentalists and mediocrity of moderates. I am happy to be part of the effort, and appreciate the kind words he offered about me in his piece.

"Brian Kaylor, our contributing editor, offers our readers the best news analysis pieces on Baptist life available, unsatisfied with rewrites of press releases," Parham wrote. "His coverage of the Baptist World Alliance is unmatched. His substantive reporting unparalleled. His work builds constituency through deep content."

I appreciate the kind words and will strive to model such writing as I work on my pieces about Cuba and beyond. As I think about Cuba and transform the experience into words, I will offer a teaser from the trip. While in Cuba, I ended up on state TV (fortunately just in an audience shot). The news segment featured the Cuban Baptist meeting and noted the presence of a group from the United States (or at least that is what I was told the Spanish says). You can watch the short clip here.