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Cuban seminary commemorates 65th anniversary

Dean Reinerio Arce says God calls all to give a reason for hope

October 20, 2011

MATANZAS, Cuba

“In the complex religious and ecumenical situation, but also the economic, political and social one that we are living, God calls us as the Evangelical Theological Seminary (SET) of Matanzas, each one of us who attempt to respond to that call, to give a reason for hope,” said seminary president Reinerio Arce Valentín in his message on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of SET, celebrated Oct. 3-4.

SET, a leading institution of theological education in Cuba, honored its anniversary with the theme of “The mission of the church and theological education in Cuba today,” analyzing its contributions in the areas of theology, ecclesiology and ecumenism.

At the first session, the Rev. Ofelia Miriam Ortega, a former dean of the seminary, lectured on “65 years of Ecumenical Education in Cuba,” in which she considered SET to be like a “house” (oikos) of ecumenical formation and Latin American unity, in addition to its role in Cuban civil society and expertise in theological formation in the country.

She shared how curricula have recently been added in gender perspectives, feminist theology, and the inclusion of handicapped persons, as well as missionary extension to the east of the country. 

The anniversary celebration was also the occasion for the release of two important new books: Infinite Sowing: Itineraries of the Protestant Missionary Work and Evangelization in Cuba by the late Rafael Cepeda and Carlos R. Molina; and My Stronger Vocation has Been the Ecumenical One: Articles and essays in honor of Adolfo Ham Reyes, edited by Manuel Quintero Pérez.   

In addition to numerous national leaders, guests from abroad included the Rev. Isaac López, dean of the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Mexico: Bishop Wilfrido Ramos, representing the Episcopal Church of the United States;  Peter Verhoeff, moderator of the Protestant Church in the Low Countries; Carlos Emilio Ham, executive secretary for Diaconía Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Council of Churches; Jo Ella  Holman, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s regional liaison for Cuba and the Caribbean; and Dean Lewis of the PC(USA)’s Cuba Connection organization. 

Arce’s lecture focused on theological education in times of survival, in which he insisted on the necessity of focusing the theological work on mission, using biblical-theological and pastoral training as the main instrument.

Arce also indicated the need for contextual interaction in dialogue with other disciplines, such as the social and economic sciences, and an ecological vocation that grows out of basic ethical principles such as love and justice.

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