Two newsy items I came across recently got me wondering: In how many languages do people in Charlotte worship God these days?
I counted at least 20 – not a surprise when you consider how diverse our faith community has become. And I bet some of you could add to my list. (And hopefully will – see below.)
Those two newsy items:
- At 7 p.m. on Thursday (Dec. 11), thousands of Spanish-speaking Catholics are expected to converge on Bojangles Coliseum, 2700 E. Independence Blvd., for the annual celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe – or “Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.”
- A Polish-language Mass will be celebrated at 3 p.m. on Dec. 21 at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 8015 Ballantyne Commons Parkway.
To be sure, most local houses of worship still send their prayers up to “God.”
But, all over town, the Supreme Being is increasingly invoked by other names: “Dios” (in Spanish); “Gott” (German); “Elohim” and “Adonai” (Hebrew); “Allah” (Arabic); “Deus” (Latin); “Bóg” (Polish); “Theos” (Greek); “Dieu” (French); and many others.
I consulted a few folks in town who chart Charlotte’s growing diversity – including historian Tom Hanchett of the Levine Museum of the New South – and came up with a list of the languages of worship in the Charlotte area:
- The Catholic Diocese has parishes where some or all of the Masses are in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean and Latin. A few parishes periodically host Masses in other languages, including Polish and Tagalog (from the Philippines).
- Orthodox Christian churches have services that are partly or totally said in Greek, Russian, Serbian, Armenian and Arabic.
- The Jewish synagogues include prayers in Hebrew.
- Muslims attending masjids, or mosques, are led in prayer in Arabic.
- Various Protestant denominations – Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist – have immigrant congregations that worship in German, Khmer (the language of Cambodia), Korean, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Tagalog.
- Buddhist temples are the spiritual homes to immigrant communities that speak Chinese, Lao (from Laos), Vietnamese and Khmer.
- The sacred language at the Hindu temples is Sanskrit.
- Haitian churches have services in French.
- Immigrant churches with congregations from African countries worship in such indigenous language groups as Akan (from Ghana) and Amharic (from Ethiopia).
OK, that’s our list. What languages have we left out? Email them (and any related houses of worship) to: email@example.com
-- Tim Funk