Delegates travel far to be part of General Conference

Gulshan Titus traveled from Jaipur City, Rajasthan State, India, to attend the 2004 United Methodist General Conference, and so far it has been “an exhilarating experience.”

She only has one complaint.

Dressed in a beautiful magenta sari, she says, “I wasn’t prepared for the weather (which dipped to temperatures in the 30s some evenings). They should have warned me to bring warmer clothes!”

For several of the delegates to the quadrennial assembly, going back home for a sweater would take a few days.

It took Titus about 22 hours to arrive in Pittsburgh.

Humphrey Sarfraz Peters says traveling from his home in Peshawar Cantt, Pakistan, took more than 30 hours. Peters is the general secretary for the Methodist Church of Pakistan.

Librada A. Lozano had to spend the night in the airport at Manila as part of her travel ordeal. She left home in Davao City, Philippines, on April 23 and arrived in Pittsburgh on April 24.

The Rev. Paul Matheri, a delegate from the East Africa Annual Conference, says, “It was a long way to Pittsburgh.” He traveled from his home in Naivasha, Kenya, to Amsterdam to Detroit before arriving at General Conference.

Despite the distances and difficulties, everyone agrees that it has been worth the trip.

Peters says of the 140 million people living in Pakistan, only 2 percent are Christians.

“It is a very good feeling to come here and feel the presence of the body of Christ,” he says. “You know that you are not alone and you can share the Good News.”

Matheri says he has been a United Methodist for four years, and by “God’s grace” his church is growing.

“It is a very poor area, very dry, but the Christians there have the heart of giving,” he says.

“Seeing all the United Methodists coming from all over the world is a very big encouragement,” Matheri says. “We are members of a very big and strong body. When I go back home, I will tell my people we are not just this small family that we see here, but we are also members of a bigger body.”

Titus agrees. “I have never seen such a great gathering. It is a very nice experience.”

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7.
After May 10: (615) 742-5470.

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