The Luz del Mundo (Light of the World) Church began its annual gathering in this western Mexican metropolis with the participation of about 240,000 people from 42 countries.

The welcoming ceremony to the Santa Convocacion, the most important festival of this Pentacostalist-inspired denomination, included a procession in which representatives of each country carries their flag and wore typical outfits from their homelands.

The delegations were received by Pastor Samuel Joaquin Flores - the sect's charismatic leader - in the interior of the church in Guadalajara, the international headquarters of this religion.

The faithful began gathering early Tuesday morning on the streets near the church, forming lines of up to half a kilometer (1/3 mile) in length.

With canticles and praises, the pilgrims listened to the sermon by the man they consider to be the apostle of Christ, Pastor Flores, who this year did not make his way around the church since he is recovering from surgery.

The main avenue near the church was broadened this year so that more pilgrims could gather there. And also, special illumination was installed along with a laser on top of the church that has a range of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), a beacon that can be seen from any part of the city.

It is expected that on Aug. 14, the day the Santa Cena (Holy Supper) is celebrated, some 300,000 faithful will congregate in the city where special shelters and dining halls have been outfitted for them.

The Luz del Mundo Church, which rejects the Trinity and the veneration of saints and the Virgin Mary, has some 5 million members all around the world.