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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Singing a new tune

From coast to coast, worship languages expand

Next time you pass a church where the congregation is praising God in an unfamiliar language, don't be surprised if it's an ELCA worship service in Swahili, Amharic or Oromo.

Richard Vevia Jr., pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran in San Diego's Oak Park neighborhood, recalls a man of Southeast Asian descent standing on the church patio reading a brochure about Lutheranism that he'd picked up. To his right a praise team was singing contemporary Christian music in Spanish, and to his left was a service in Swahili with drums. As the man left shaking his head, Vevia said, "I wondered what he was thinking." 

Calvary partners with the ELCA's Ethiopian Evangelical Christian Church and holds three services each Sunday: one each in English, Swahili and Amharic (Ethiopian). The church also serves as host to services for an English- and Spanish-speaking congregation and a Nigerian-led independent evangelical congregation.


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