At the Threshold (AtT) has a broad mandate to face the future of Christianity in this transitional age of secularization and globalization. One of the pressing matters has to do with the role of the church in societies undergoing significant change, especially in those cultures where the church has been viewed as out of step and even suppressed. AtT has taken a stand in favor of diplomacy with Cuba to work out national differences and enhance relations. Part of our hope is aimed at increased support for the church in Cuba. Thus, we choose to reciprocate the growing normalization regarding church-state relations in Cuban by offering our support for normalization of political and cultural relations. This includes taking a position to lift the embargo. The son of the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Cuba under the Castro regime, Romi Gonzalez, offers his grasp of what the U.S. needs to do.

By Romi Gonzalez

Upon hearing that President Barack Obama had announced a major shift towards the normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba, my initial feeling was one of relief, as if a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders. Then my thoughts turned to the recurring question – why has it taken so long?

The “burden” President Obama has lifted from many of us in the exile community has to do with freedom, particularly the freedom of expression.

Romi Gonzalez

Many Cuban exiles have recognized for years and years that the U.S. embargo and travel ban are failed policies that must be ended. We have come to recognize that these punitive relics from the cold war have done nothing to accomplish the regime change they were designed for. On the other hand, they have provided great benefits to powerful interest groups on both sides of the Florida straits and have handed Cuba an excuse for its glaring shortcomings. Meanwhile, it keeps the Cuban population in a wretched state while it awaits change. Anyone with any semblance of humanity must recognize that you can not allow the obsessive hatred of the demonized Fidel Castro to continue adversely impacting the lives of the 11 million persons stranded on that island. Engagement with China, Russia, Vietnam and others has worked. Why not Cuba (regardless of Florida’s electoral votes)? Although many Cuban-Americans in this country have understood this for years, they have silently “walked away from the discussion, lest they be branded as communists” or worse.

Certainly, the curtailment of  freedom of thought and expression in the exile community has rivaled the excessive measures of the most oppressive days of the Castro regime. The anti-Castro extremists in the exile community have been ruthless. In Miami pro-engagement advocates have been the object of bombings, seen their businesses and homes burned and suffered a marginalization which has savaged careers and families. These tactics have been emulated in other cities with prominent Cuban-American communities. In New Orleans, a prominent banker’s life and job were threatened when he dared to announce a trade mission to Cuba. When I was asked to speak of the historical ties between New Orleans and Havana at Spring Hill College in Mobile during a Cuba Trade Conference, my residence was rolled in toilet paper two weekends in a row. Since I began visiting Cuba in the mid 1990’s, many of my Cuban friends have not spoken to me. The most vindictive even undermine the non-profit efforts I undertake.
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By At the Threshold

At the Threshold (AtT) has a broad mandate to face the future of Christianity in this transitional age of secularization and globalization. One of the pressing matters has to do with the role of the church in societies undergoing significant change, especially in those cultures where the church has been viewed as out of step and even suppressed. AtT has taken a stand in favor of diplomacy with Cuba to work out national differences and enhance relations. Part of our hope is aimed at increased support for the church in Cuba. Thus, we choose to reciprocate to this growing tolerance and goodwill by offering our support here in the United States; this includes taking the position to lift the embargo.

Today we offer you a look at the point of view of one of the leading voices against the re-establishment of ordinary relations.

One of the leading Republicans on international affairs, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, took to the floor of the U.S. House in opposition to the President’s moves to normalize relations with Cuba.

“Cuba’s largest supporters, Russia and Venezuela, are struggling due to their own fiscal crisis at home so the Castro brothers needed a bailout from a new source and sadly they found one with President Obama,” she said.

In fact, Cuba has been able to blame the failure to develop an adequate economy on the embargo. This is true in at least significant measure. Those who suffer due to the embargo are not the officials and politicians who make decisions in Cuba, but the poor people. The embargo at least contributes to the poverty that pervades the island. Indeed, that is one of its purposes. The idea is to make life so difficult that the masses will rise to a counter-revolution. The reality is that this has not happened in more than half of a century and there is no indication that it will happen in the future. The policy has not worked, has caused suffering for the “little person,” and has only benefited the politicians who use a shrill voice to get elected to office. Of course, the embargo has also benefited the industry of those who have made anti-Castro rhetoric a full, and very profitable career.

“By increasing tourism travel on the island – the Obama administration will be injecting millions of dollars straight into the pockets of the Castro brothers. The Cuban police state runs the hotels,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

Many of the people of Cuba and the Cuban-American community are excited about American tourism allowing people in Cuba to help themselves. American supporters of normalization have become a majority – because it is beneficial to all, including Cuban-Americans with families still in Cuba. Read More…

Leo Frade, the Episcopal bishop of Southeast Florida, was born in Havana, Cuba. In 1980, Frade, along with At the Threshold president Joe Morris Doss, led a mission to bring more than 400 Cubans to the U.S. aboard “God’s Mercy,” a WWII submarine chaser. The whole fascinating story can be found in “Let the Bastards Go” from LSU Press. In the article below, Frade discusses the evolving relationship between the U.S. and Cuba and the reaction by some Cuban Americans. For comments, email

By Bishop Leo Frade

Bishop Leo Frade

Bishop Leo Frade

We were all able to witness an amazing engagement party. Words of hope and understanding were conveyed and the couple made their announcements of their future union that astonished us all.

Instead of rings, the Presidents exchanged prisoners and “wedding planners” were sent to Havana to deal with our Cuban counterparts to work out the details of their upcoming union. Actually, to me, it looked more like the preparation of a prenuptial agreement to assure everyone that human rights and dissidents were protected. The planning also looked to offer a new opportunity to be given to our American farmers and manufacturers to sell their goods.

It will be a joyous day when the American flag is able to fly freely in the old American Embassy by the Malecon where I got my I-20 student visa to attend my college and seminary studies in the USA; and when the Cubans are able to fly their Cuban flag at the old Cuban Embassy at 16th Street, NW in Washington.

What has been amazing to me is how Cuban Americans in South Florida have reacted. The majority of the people were tired of the same old policy of hatred and isolation. Oh yes, a small group of old men gathered as usual in front of Versailles restaurant to scream and insult the betrayal of democracy that in their obtuse minds seems to be the only recipe for change in Cuba. They prefer the status quo as a method of obtaining change. They blame the betrayal of democracy as they said repeatedly on that “Negro President” who actually believes that by negotiating we can obtain the changes that we were not able to achieve after more than five decades of isolation and insults. Read More…

When asked what future historians would say that the church is “up to” in the new millennium, that is, how might the church today make a difference in history, the great historian and Lutheran pastor Martin Marty did not hesitate: “I hope we will be successful in becoming a truly global church. It will be messy, like it is right now for the international Anglican Communion, but Christians of this generation have the chance to do it” (from a personal conversation).

Charles Graves

Charles Graves

What is presented below is a five-part article by Charles Graves, a third-year seminarian at Yale Divinity School. The article reflects on the historical involvement of the Anglican Church in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, particularly in the Gold Coast Colony, and how modern Anglicans in Ghana view that historical connection. Furthermore, Graves offers thoughts about how Afro-Anglicans on both sides of the Atlantic can continue bonding with one another and working together for the local and global church.

In April 2014, Graves went to Ghana to conduct research on the history of the Anglican Church of Ghana with respect to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He interviewed students, professors, and clergy from every diocese in Ghana. He studied, had experiences, reflected theologically, and learned. Graves focuses on three steps: acknowledging past injustices, forgiving one another, and gathering together regularly.

At the Threshold offers this as an opportunity for Christians to seek transformation and a newly international Christian Church in gaining some understanding of the history that has brought us to this moment and the opportunity for a global future church. 

The Path from Slavery to Fellowship Among Afro-Anglicans 

By Charles Graves

W.E.B. DuBois observed that Afro-Americans carry the burden of a sense of what he termed “double-consciousness”: “…this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness… two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body…this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.” (Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co.; [Cambridge]: University Press John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A., 1903)

Although DuBois wrote in particular about Americans of African descent, this double-consciousness extends equally to Afro-Anglicans sharing both the Anglican heritage of the captors and the African heritage of the captives.

In the centuries since the close of the slave trade and the gradual abolition of slavery in the former British trading posts, each successive generation has had its own mark on the Afro-Anglican identity. This evolution is highlighted by the earliest African converts to Anglicanism and the first African Anglican missionaries in the eighteenth century, the first black congregations, dioceses, and bishops in the nineteenth century, and the independence and rapid Afro-Anglican post-colonial growth of the twentieth century. The continuously changing generational landscape continues now in the twenty-first century in which Anglo-Saxon bishops are outnumbered by bishops of color, and the Church of Nigeria is the second-most populous Anglican province, trailing only the Church of England. At this juncture in time, the Afro-Anglican movement is undergoing another generational shift on both sides of the Atlantic. Read More…