From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Commission helping United Methodist delegates with visa dilemma

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Mon, 5 Apr 2004 11:17:16 -0500

April 5, 2004	News media contact: Linda Green 7 (615)742-5470 7 Nashville,
Tenn. 7 E-mail: 7 ALL-AF-AS-I-HIS {156}

EVANSTON, Ill (UMNS) - United Methodist officials have expanded efforts to
international delegates gain entry into the United States for General
Conference, the denomination's top legislative meeting.

According to information from the denomination's Commission on General
Conference, many delegates who previously were unable to schedule visa
interviews now have interviews scheduled.

Church officials had discovered that a large number of delegates from Africa
and the Philippines had not obtained visas from the U.S. government to travel
to the April 27-May 7 meeting in Pittsburgh. Directors of the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries, meeting March 22-25, agreed to urge
United Methodist legislators in Congress to help solve the crisis and
appealed to other United Methodists for assistance. 

By early April, only five delegates from the Philippines and 10 of 12
delegates from
Nigeria had been unsuccessful in scheduling appointments for visas or had
been given an appointment date after General Conference concludes, according
to the commission.  Efforts continue to move appointments to earlier times to
enable delegates to obtain the necessary visas in time.

The Commission on the General Conference is coordinating efforts to obtain
visas for foreign delegates, working closely with staff from the Board of
Global Ministries and General Council on Ministries.

The Rev. James Perry, commission chairman, representatives of the commission
asked United Methodists to contact their U.S. representatives and senators to
urge them to assist in cutting through bureaucratic red tape to obtain the
needed visas for foreign delegates.

He added that U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, (R-Ind.), an active United Methodist
who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, is working to obtain visas for
delegates who have been refused entry by the U.S. Embassy Consulate Section. 
Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, (R-Ill.), also has tried to provide
assistance with visa appointments.

The Commission on General Conference has sent letters of invitation to
delegates and embassies, indicating the denomination is responsible for the
delegates expenses while in the United States.


United Methodist News Service
Photos and stories also available at:

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home