The believers who meet at the Culver Palms Church of Christ worship God in Chinese, Korean, Spanish and English. Once per year, they do it all at the same time.
The Los Angeles church hosted its annual International Day recently, combining four separate language services into one multilingual morning of praise. About 350 people attended.
Located in the city’s diverse Palms district, the church offers services in English, with senior minister Mark Manassee, and Chinese, with Chinese minister Shifan Man. Two other congregations, with their own ministry staffs and leaders, meet in Culver Palms’ building. Youngman Kim preaches for the Korean congregation.
Fernando Santos preaches for the Spanish church.
During the Sunday service, Shifan presented devotional thoughts as the congregation prepared to take the Lord’s Supper. Ushers waited until the meditation was read in all four languages before passing the trays so church members could take communion at the same time, said Matt Bush, Culver Palms’ worship minister.
The service incorporated other languages as well. Brent Bost, who grew up on the mission field in Brazil, read John 3:16-21 (“For God so loved the world …”) in Portuguese and English. Farzin Madjidi, a church member from Iran, read Psalm 96 (“Sing to the Lord a new song …”) in Farsi and English.
“One of the touching moments for me this year was hearing Clark Leon, a Haitian brother, pray in his native French publicly for the first time,” Manassee said.
The international potluck that followed the service was “a taste of God’s kingdom banquet,” he added.
Church members regularly interact with internationally born people in their community, Manassee said. The church offers weekly classes in FriendSpeak, a program that helps immigrants improve their English skills using the Bible. The program has enrolled students from Mexico, Guatemala, China, India and Turkey.
As the international service concluded, church members sang “Bind Us Together” in four languages simultaneously.
“It is truly a cacophony of sound — more like a joyful noise,” Bush said, “but it always brings a smile to everyone’s face.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: Billie Silvey