Photo: Karen Huttenga
Synod translators hard at work
Photo by Karen Huttenga

Imagine spending a week discussing denominational matters and deciding on denominational policy. Now imagine doing it while most people are speaking a language other than your mother tongue. This is a reality for a growing number of delegates to the synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, and they are greatly supported by the service of translation.

Hidden in a quiet room overlooking the synod floor in the Covenant Fine Arts Center at Calvin College, a team of translators has been hard at work during Synod 2018.

Ha-jin Kim, a Calvin College senior, translated synod business into Spanish for one delegate. Born in Korea, Ha-jin grew up in Argentina and is trilingual.

“I enjoy translating -- I’ve been doing it since I was little,” he said.

Ha-jin said that Spanish is his most comfortable language, but translating church polity matters has proved challenging. Fortunately, he has established rapport with the man he is translating for and has found him to be gracious.

“He understands that I’m not a professional translator,” said Ha-Jin.

Jonathan Kim is also serving as a translator. He is a third-year Calvin Seminary student who also helps to pastor a local church. In the Korean church, Jonathan said, pastors are expected to be bilingual.

Despite this expectation and his fluency in Korean and English, Jonathan found his time as a translator to be challenging. He said that he has studied church government in seminary, but had never witnessed it first hand before this week.

Even with these hurdles, his efforts to translated synod sessions into Korean have been appreciated by several Korean-speaking delegates.

For continuous coverage of Synod 2018 including the live webcast, news, video recordings, photos, reports, liveblog, social media links, and more visit www.crcna.org/synod.