Father Hugo Adán, Spanish-born Rector of Holy Trinity with St Matthew’s Church, in south London, writes on being a fully bilingual Church.
This blog is also available in Spanish
Este blog también está disponible en español
The peculiarity of my parish is that I think it is right to say we are the first fully bilingual parish in the Church of England. Now I have the tendency to say “fully” bilingual because to say just “bilingual” does not fully reflect life in the church. We have services in both English and Spanish. Normally we have different services for the English speaking congregation and for the Spanish one while on main occasions and festival services our tendency is to come together. But we are fully bilingual in the sense that Spanish is the language of the parish just as much as English.
Our PCC, our Churchwardens’ meetings, everything we produce, print, write and discuss is always in both languages. There is nothing like an official language, English, and a “guest”’ one, Spanish. Both have equal value, are equally appreciated and protected in the parish. Our model is taken from the letters of St Paul, when he reflected on the nature of the Church. We are one body, one parish, one community, one family.
Just as a human body, we breathe through our two lungs. Each of the lungs has its own characteristics and needs, its richness and challenges, its uniqueness. But having both is what makes us what we are, a very open, inclusive, friendly and welcoming family. There are always challenges as both communities have different needs and ways of expressing them, but we are learning how to walk together and celebrate together our common faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
One of the big joys of having “two lungs” is the missionary spirit of our church. Both communities are experiencing growth and we are running a number of initiatives to equip the leaders of both communities so we can start forming new groups of discipleship. Our Church stands within the open Catholic tradition of the Church of England so we run Alpha courses and various other training session courses and workshops (spirituality, leadership, evangelism) with a clear emphasis in incarnational and sacramental theology.
I feel very privileged to be part of this wonderful project. There is a huge potential in the area and the possibilities of growth are enormous. It is not always easy to navigate through the tensions that diverse cultural backgrounds can raise. But above all, being part of this project is a blessing.