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Maugansville Baptist offers bilingual service

December 10, 2007|By BETHANY TREMBLAY, Herald-Mail Intern

Someone attending the noon service at Maugansville Baptist Church would be in for a surprise ? one service in two languages.

The bilingual worship service is the newest ministry project at the church on Maugans Avenue. The service, presented in English and Spanish, began about a month ago.

Pastor Scott Johnston said about 80 percent of all churches have nonEnglish speaking worship groups that meet in the church facilities but are not affiliated with the churches. At Maugansville Baptist, the bilingual worship service is run by the church, allowing attendees to become members.

The church has always held a multicultural service, but the vision of two members of the church brought the idea of a bilingual service to life.

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Earl and Maria Wentzel wanted fellowship at the church to be "a beautiful opportunity for people to share cultural differences," Johnston said.

The ministry, started by the Wentzels, took months of planning and preparation. The bilingual service is presented in two languages at the same time.

"There is a certain rhythm to it," Johnston said.

The ministry provides materials in both English and Spanish that Johnston describes as "transitional steps to help Spanish-speakers learn English."

The service is interpreted by Maria Wentzel, who explains the English sermon in Spanish as it is given. In addition to Wentzel's interpretations, the church has PowerPoint displays with two columns in English and Spanish, Spanish/English Bibles and songs that are sung alternating Spanish and English verses.

"It works out well, smoother than most people would realize," Johnston said.

Earl Wentzel leads most of the service, with assistance from Johnston, who said he lets everyone in the church pursue any idea they have for ministry.

"It is the Wentzels' ministry, they do most of the work for it. I just help out where they need me," Johnston said.

Earl Wentzel has been a pastor for 10 years. His wife, Maria Wentzel, is originally from Costa Rica. The Wentzels began their involvement in bilingual ministry in New Jersey. The couple established bilingual services in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Maria Wentzel said.

Wenztel said since she speaks Spanish and her husband speaks English, they are always surrounded by Spanish-speakers who want to learn English and English-speakers who want to learn Spanish.

"There are Spanish-speaking people in Hagerstown who want to learn English. We thought this would be a beautiful integration of culture, because you can worship God in any language," Maria Wentzel said.

Even though she and her husband have been involved with bilingual ministry, the services they worked with were still separate English and Spanish services, she said. This is the first time they have been able to have a simultaneous Spanish and English worship service.

Starting the first Sunday in December, services at Maugansville Baptist Church started with the traditional service, followed by Sunday school combined with students from the English and bilingual services and ended with the bilingual service.

The church has about 30 members and an average of seven or eight people attend the bilingual service, Johnston said.

Wentzel said she is happy with the response from both the Spanish- and English-speaking members of the church.

Johnston hopes the ministry will bring two cultures in the community to grow together.

Through the new bilingual service ministry, Johnston said the church would like to teach members about culture, allowing people to better communicate with the community around them, as well as break down cultural barriers.

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