The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, USA, opened work in Cuba in 1883 through Cuban Methodists residing in Florida. The first church was organized in Havana that year with 194 members. The Spanish-American War interrupted this flourishing work, and it was not until 1898 that American missionaries were sent to Cuba, and Bishop Warren A. Candler, of the Florida Annual Conference personally visited the island. The Cuban Mission was organized in 1907; a Mission Conference in 1919; and the Cuba Annual Conference in 1923. At Methodist Unification in 1939, the Conference became a unit of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. In 1964 the General Conference passed an enabling act to allow the Cuban Methodist Church to become autonomous if it so chose. Autonomy was declared on February 2, 1968, and Rev. Armando Rodriguez elected as the First Cuban Bishop.
During the past few years a lot of new members have helped create almost 200 new congregations in the church, plus the 120 that were founded by the Cuban and American missionaries. The current membership is close to 13,000 and other 50,000 are attending church, although they are not yet members. More than 100 pastors work full time in preaching the Gospel. Methodists in Cuba hope to win “Cuba for Christ” through their evangelistic work. They are praying for opportunities to print Christian literature in Cuba and broadcast radio and television programs with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church has been trained to reach large numbers of people.
Since 1969 the church has been self-supporting. There is well organized work with women, youth, young adults, men, and activities in the area of Evangelism, Christian Education and leadership development. Twenty-three students are currently studying at the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary, to become pastors, and seven others are studying in Garrett Evangelical and Perkins Seminaries, in the United States.
Together with Methodists in the United States, the Caribbean and Central America the Methodist Church in Cuba participates in studies and projects of missionary work in countries in the region where there is no work of the Methodist Church. Recently, Bishop Armando Rodriguez (retired) and his wife Alida were appointed as Cuban missionaries to Honduras, the only Latin American country where there is no Methodist church.