The Spanish-born Rector of Holy Trinity with St Matthew’s Church, in south London, Father Hugo Adán, updates ACNS on how the church is doing one year on.
To read our first introduction to St Matthew's, click here.
This is a chaos!
As much as I like the parish I have to admit it, St Matthew’s is a chaos. It has been a year now since we started this wonderful project of being a bilingual parish.
Our Spanish congregation has grown, and we even have another full-time bilingual priest working with us, but the project is still a bit chaotic.
If it is demanding to run a PCC in normal circumstancies, imagine that you have half of the members speaking one language and the other half speaking a different one. The same with your churchwardens, leaders, volunteers…
The fact that people speak different languages is not what make our parish a bit chaotic. It is the cultural background of which the language is the most evident expression but not the only one by far. I’m sure you can imagine what a person born in a small village in the north of Nigeria and someone who was born in the coffee mountains of Colombia have in common. Apparently their faith in Jesus and not much more.
Well, at St Matthew’s we try to help people realise that in fact we have lots of things in common regardless of where we come from. Normally we don’t see these things but there is more that unites us than divides us. Human beings are good at focusing on everything that divides us: not only language but also preferences, football teams, cities, music…even streets!! We live in a London area where gangs fight each other only because they are named after different streets.
Sometimes at St Matthews we have the temptation to fight over these things too: what language comes first in the publicity; we use “us” and “them” to define people only by the language they talk. Sometimes we elect people for leadership positions only because “they can guarantee” our rights (the rights of those speaking a particular language). We are like this.
But also, we really want to be an open door church for everyone. We want to do our best to welcome new people. We have hundreds of new friendship stories across languages and cultures, we are a vibrant and active parish church which witnesses the Gospel in both Spanish and English at this side of the Thames river.
God is good with us.