April, 5, 2004
EVANSTON, Ill (UMNS) - United Methodist officials have expanded efforts to help international delegates gain entry into the United States for General Conference, the denomination's top legislative meeting.
to information from the denomination's Commission on General
Conference, many delegates who previously were unable to schedule visa
interviews now have interviews scheduled.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News media can contact Linda Green at (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.