Recently, the Millwoods congregation in Edmonton, Alberta, was blessed to celebrate a baptism in both English and Farsi. Several weeks earlier, an Iranian woman named Shahnaz had come to their church building hoping to speak with the pastor about baptizing her daughter and grandson. Shahnaz is still learning English, and Pastor Aaron Linville does not speak any Farsi, so Shahnaz’s son helped them by translating over speaker phone. After that first meeting, the congregation began providing their bulletins as well as the main points of the sermon in Farsi using Google Translate. After church each Sunday, they would have conversations through Google Translate and bits of spoken English.
When Pastor Aaron met with Shahnaz’s daughter, Delnaz, and grandson, Arshia, about their baptism, he translated the liturgy for baptism into Farsi and numbered the paragraphs so that they could follow each other through the prayers. This translated liturgy was also shown as a slide show during the baptism so that Delnaz and Arshia could follow along with what was being prayed and spoken in English.
Pastor Aaron Linville shared, “I know Google Translate is far from perfect, but love, compassion, and care (especially when paired with a little intentional effort to be inclusive and welcoming) are easily understood.”