Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary - July 2015 Update

The Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary (SET) was established in 1946 as an ecumenical pastoral training center. SET seeks to provide a high quality, diversified theological education program to prepare young church leaders to meet the challenges of growth in existing local congregations and in pursuing new church developments throughout Cuba. The Outreach Foundation’s Marilyn Borst recently visited and writes:

It was a typically hot and steamy June morning in Matanzas, Cuba, but the excited grads (plus their families and friends) and the faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminary (SET) seemed to take little notice of it as they packed the chapel for the ceremony – almost 40 men and women received their degrees or certificates. Special acknowledgments in this service of worship went to former grads (who are now husband and wife) who were just granted their doctorates in Canada and have returned and for a pillar of the Presbyterian Church in Cuba, the Rev. Orestes Gonzalez, who graduated in 1950 and is just now retiring as a serving pastor! There was a poignant remembrance of Professor Carlos Camps Cruell who passed away this past year and had faithfully served both the Church and the seminary for over half a decade. But a significant part of the day’s celebration was centered on a “passing of the torch” for SET’s president of eight years, Dr. Reinerio Arce, who was stepping down even as Dr. Carlos Emilio Ham was being installed. Dr. Ham, pictured above, has recently returned to Cuba from serving the broader Church, having been posted to Switzerland for nine years with World Council of Churches where he had responsibilities for mission, evangelism and diaconal work. In addition to his call as the new president, he will also pastor a congregation in Matanzas.

Dr. Arce, pictured right, gave the address based on Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” His message to the broader community assembled and to the graduates, specifically, could not have been more focused: 

We are living in a special moment. If we were to describe this in theological terms, I believe that we are living a real “Kairos moment” for our nation and, therefore, for our churches and for the Cuban ecumenical movements of which the seminary is a part – and has the great responsibility for the biblical-theological formation movement. Therefore, in the midst of this “Kairos moment,” we need to think about the meaning of our discipleship. Discipleship is the essential characteristic of anyone who wants to be called ‘Christian.’ Because Christians are no more than this – followers of Jesus Christ. Or at the very least, since they call us this, we are to aspire to become disciples of the Nazarene called Jesus, the Christ. For you who today finish your studies and for this institution and for all here, this is the most important challenge – how to be his disciples in our time, as his disciples in our Cuba today…

Much beloved and much admired, all assembled in the room were grateful that, following a sabbatical of teaching and writing in the U.S. and Canada, Dr. Arce will return to the seminary as a full-time professor.

Most of the students are already serving in or assigned to places of ministry, like Liz Eleyne Capo Lima, seen here with one of her professors, Dr. Ary Fernandez. Liz Eleyne will be the new pastor for the congregation of Jagüey Grande – whose church building The Outreach Foundation helped to “resurrect” thanks to the gifts of several congregations here in the U.S., especially Peachtree Presbyterian in Atlanta.

Would you like to reconnect with or meet the Presbyterian Church in Cuba and explore the possibilities for partnership with your congregation? Consider one of the two mission-vision trips which I will be leading in February 2016.


Marilyn Borst 
Associate Director for Partnership Development

Cuba Mission Vision Trip for Wee Kirks     February 5-13, 2016 

Join me and The Fellowship Community board member, the Rev. Dr. Herb Codington, for a unique journey to Cuba for pastors and leaders of smaller member congregations! Our time will be divided between Matanzas and Havana where we will learn from church leaders and visit congregations (most of which are small) of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba to explore possible partnership opportunities.

See God at Work through the Church in Cuba     February 12-20, 2016 

We will stay mainly in Matanzas where the Evangelical Theological Seminary will host us but will also spend several nights in Havana. Along the way, we will be learning from church leaders while we absorb the history and culture that shape the ministry context for our partners to the south and discern how changes in relations between our nations will affect them. 

Application deadline for both trips is October 1, 2015. Space is limited to 20 participants per trip, so please apply soon. The estimated basic trip cost for both trips is $1,800 (double occupancy) and includes international airfare, Cuban visa, transportation, food and lodging in Cuba. It does not include your domestic travel to/from Tampa (est. $250-$300) or overnight stay in Tampa on Friday (est. $60/person) which is required for the early departures to Havana.

For more information about either trip please contact Lisa Dill at

Read more about the ministry of Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary by clicking HERE.

Amount needed in 2015

The Outreach Foundation seeks to raise at least $3,400 per month for Matanzas Seminary. To make a donation, click the Donate Now link in the sidebar.

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