By Rev. Larry Gerber
In 1981 the Reverend Magee Wilkes, Sr. Pastor of Grace United Methodist in Mesa, AZ. instructed me to organize a Youth Team to take a John Wesley Heritage Tour to England and then spend two weeks in Prestatyn, Wales on a work project. The three week tour allowed me and my wife Jane to get to know the 24 youth from Grace United Methodist Church in Mesa, AZ. very well. Being the only adults (35 and 37 years of age) leading 24 high school and college age students seemed like an awesome task. Reverend Wilkes set the rules and it was quite simple: if anyone behaved inappropriately, according to Gerber, he had the authority to send them packing at their parents’ expense. I am proud to say that I never had to really threaten anyone.
We toured many of the important places of John and Charles Wesley’s ministry, got to know how church and state could work together, saw many important historical sites in London and Wales, and did a major makeover on a Methodist Retreat Center in Prestatyn.
One of the youngest youth on that tour was Sharon (Telford) Pajak. Sharon could have been voted as the “most outstanding youth” on that tour if we were to take such a vote. Sharon went on to become one of our leading pastors in our conference and is currently serving as pastor of Desert Chapel United Methodist Church in Apache Jct., AZ. Many of the youth from that tour went on to become leaders in their respective churches. I am proud to say that Jane and I were instrumental in the shaping of many of the youth on the work team/tour 32 years ago.
This fall, November 11-19, 2013 Jane and I are leading a John Wesley Heritage Tour to England. This is an opportunity to witness first hand our United Methodist Heritage as we visit the home of the Wesley’s in Epworth, visit the Wesley Chapel in London and walk on Aldersgate Street where John Wesley had his conversion as well as visit Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, and other important sites. We invite you to join us on this historic heritage tour. This is an opportunity to witness our heritage and receive a heartwarming experience. To learn more contact me at or 602-509-4299.