A baker’s dozen of missioners from St. James’s Episcopal Church depart for Cuba today to work with the Episcopal Diocese of Cuba on improving their facilities including the development of a rural retreat named after a Virginian, Bishop Alexander Hugo Blankingship, who was the diocese’s Bishop from 1939 until the Cuban Revolution.
“The possibility of being among the first Episcopal missionaries in Cuba since the change in the United States policy towards Cuba was the furthest thing from our minds,” said Hollerith.
“We simply want to go and serve our Episcopal brothers and sisters in Cuba,” he explained.
The mission has been planned since mid-2014 and comes as a result of initial visits to the country in 2013 as part of an inter-faith team that included members from Temple Beth Ahabah and St. James’s, neighbors in faith on West Franklin Street in Richmond.
Missionaries DeWitt Casler, Anne Daniel, Anthony Donovan, Jane Dowrick, Carol Ann Fuller, Sam Fuller, the Reverend Carmen Germino, Edward Leake, Judy Philpott, Moses Reid, Zach Reid, Barbara Robinson, and Bobbie Smith got their approved travel documents from the State Department and Cuban government just days before President Obama announced the rapprochement between the governments of the United States and Cuba. They will return to Richmond on January 17.
Bishop Blankingship’s daughter, Toni Donovan, lives in Richmond and worships at St. James’s. She and her family arrived here after fleeing Havana in 1961 as Castro turned the Cuban government towards communism. One of her sons, Anthony Donovan, is on the team and is representing the family’s hopes for Camp Blankingship. That retreat was the recipient of a 2014 United Thank Offering grant from the Episcopal Church Women’s foundation through the Diocese of Florida’s Cuba Committee to continue work on the project.
Photos from the 2013 Mission