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Soul's Harbor celebrates anniversary of becoming bilingual

Soul’s Harbor Church of the Nazarene is celebrating its one-year anniversary of being a bilingual congregation.

Co-pastors Will Robertson and Fred Cedeno joined forces in September 2012, and every Sunday, they conduct church services in both English and Spanish.

“We have a fully bilingual service,” Robertson said. “It’s a very unique model.”

Often, Robertson will give his sermon in English, with Cedeno at the pulpit alongside him, translating phrase by phrase.

“It’s definitely made me change the way I preach,” Robertson admitted. “Usually I stick to a single point instead of the three points we normally do. It makes it more focused.”

Not only are sermons given in both languages, but the hymn service covers songs in both languages as well.

“There’s something about singing in different languages that makes it easier,” Robertson said. “The people from both congregations have been very receptive to the changes.”

Robertson first got the idea for having a bilingual church when he visited the Navajo reservation in Nazlini, Ariz., last summer. It was still fresh in his mind when Cedeno, whose congregation was renting a space from another church, approached him about combining.

“It was getting difficult for their kids because they speak English most of the time and the church service was all in Spanish,” explained Robertson. “And our doctrine is much the same, so they came to us. We felt led by God to do this. He gave this to us and we obeyed and it worked.”

He said the children have more youth programs to take advantage of and the two congregations, which used to average 40 people gathering on Sundays, are now rolled into one service of about 100 people every week.

“So not only have we merged, but we’ve grown,” Robertson said.

And the congregation now looks a lot like the community of Woodburn, Robertson said, with Hispanic members totaling around 60 percent of the church.

“We don’t just stick to our language groups or cultural background,” he said.

All are invited to the church’s one-year celebration service on Sept. 8 at 10:45 a.m. The celebration service will be followed by a potluck.



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