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Talk about Multi-cultural Church

By John Beveridge

It’s one thing to say that you want to be a multi-cultural church: the hard bit is the sheer amount of work needed to achieve this within limited resources. So it was great to see a new language service starting at Kensington to allow Iranians at the Church hear the Sunday morning service live in their own Farsi language. This means a great deal when you’re a long way from home, still learning the English language and getting used to the UK culture.

Behind the new service, which started on April 27, was detailed preparation by regulars from the main Church and the Iranian Group, which meets at the church building on Thursday evenings. At the launch, PA desk volunteers helped with the technical setting-up beforehand and live monitoring/adjustments during the Service. And it was a first for Manesh (pictured) who bravely volunteered to do the live translation from a small booth via a wireless link to his fellow Iranians sitting in the main church wearing headphones.

“It’s a small service at this stage as we’re feeling our way – but it might well grow in future depending on the demand, and the resources we can actually provide week after week”, said Ziba, who helps leads the Group. In addition to spiritual support, the Group also offers practical Christian support to Iranians, some of whom face major problems with accommodation, language barriers and loneliness whilst away from their loved ones in Iran. Already the Group has slowly but steadily progressed since it started in 2009 from meeting only once a monthly, then fortnightly, and now every week. After the Thursday service (which can be fairly lively!), the Iranians meet for food as this is an important part of their culture. All are welcome. And recently there was a wonderful celebration at the Church when eleven Iranians made a public declaration of their Christian faith by being baptized in front of a packed congregation. Most had powerful stories to tell of how they made such a radical change in their lives despite Iran being a Muslim state.

Overall, we have members from close to 50 different countries – a “rainbow people” who come together to study the deep truths of the Bible, pray to the Living God and share their common faith. But as a Church we recognize the road to a more responsive multi-cultural practice is an important, continuing challenge. This is something we are seriously working at, in conjunction with our brothers and sisters in Christ from many different parts of the world.

Jonny Herring

Jonny is serving as Assistant Minister at The Village congregation. He is married to Charlotte and they have a daughter called Amelia. As well as spending time with his family, Jonny enjoys playing squash and dabbling in photography.