A Celebration of Languages in our Churches this Pentecost 

‘When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them will filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.’ Acts 2:1-4

Across our churches, many are regularly welcoming people of different languages and coming up with creative ways to incorporate these languages into worship and the life of the church. We believe that God is at work powerfully through this, and in the lead up to Pentecost we wanted to share some of these stories.

At St Nic’s Nottingham, due to their extensive refugee support, there is a very international congregation with members from all over the world. At their 10.45am service, the Bible readings are on screen in England, Spanish, Cantonese and Farsi. There is also a Spanish interpretation of the entire service available, and worship songs are sung in English and Spanish wherever possible.

‘Amor y Esperanza’ is a fully Spanish service which takes place on Tuesday evenings, and the Spanish-speaking members of the church are now offering Spanish classes to the the non-Spanish speaking congregations!

The multi-lingual offering at St Nic’s has made those for whom English isn’t their first language feel truly welcomed into the community. Fatemeh, from Iran, shared, “Having a Farsi translation on the screen creates an environment where individuals from different backgrounds feel welcomed, understood and valued.”

“We come to church with hunger for His Word, and having it in our language makes us feel near him.”

Carlos, St Nic’s

Further north in the diocese, at Christ Church Worksop, they have delighted in welcoming new people from all over the world with incredible stories to tell and culture to share with the community. They offer free English classes and ‘Welcome to the UK’ courses which offer the opportunity to people to gather and make new friends.

As an increasing number of their 11am congregation spoke English as their second language, they began using the Microsoft Translator app which allowed people to get spontaneous translations of the service in every language on their phone or tablet.

Reader, Vanessa Hamon, shares, “I remember sitting behind two ladies, on Lithuanian and the other Ukrainian, both Russian speakers, who were using the app…the celebration of recognition was really touching! They could experience the service in their own language via their own private translator.”

Recognising that the translator app struggled more with Cantonese, Christ Church have been blessed to have an intern with them this year who works hard each week to translate the sermon into Hong Kong Cantonese. They also sing a number of songs that combine HK Cantonese and English with alternate verses, which has often been a deeply moving and joyous experience for everyone, with one church member sharing:

“It is a beautiful moment when we hear our brothers and sisters praising God in their own language.”

Although not all churches are able to provide translations, every church will be providing a warm welcome to people of all nationalities this Pentecost. To find a church near you use the link below ,or if you’d like to find out more about Muti-lingual services in our Diocese contact our comms team here

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