By Neill Caldwell
ALEXANDRIA – Representatives from around the world gathered May 1-3 to talk about the growing Methodist mission in Cambodia.The United Methodist Church is one of five denominations working in the Southeast Asia nation of 16 million that is still recovering from the 1977-79 genocide that wiped out millions, mostly the educated and professional. Aldersgate United Methodist Church, not far from George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, hosted a gathering of Cambodian guests and others from California to Switzerland who are involved in ministry there.
During the three-day gathering participants worshiped together, shared America meals, danced to Cambodia music and heard ministry reports.Perhaps the most special of the special guests was the Rev. Sok Sovandy, the first native Cambodian to hold the position of Mission Superintendent, or head of the Cabinet in Cambodia. Prior to his taking office last September the position had been held by a Korean pastor.“Our vision statement is ‘To grow stronger and grow more rooted in Jesus Christ,’” he said. “We are working to equip clergy and lay people, encourage young people as leaders, create self-supporting churches and plant new churches.