SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (March 6, 2018) – Kacye Castenir has four sons who love to attend events like Resurrection and Rez Kidz, just as much as other Holston Conference youth and children.
Castenir is married to the pastor of a Hispanic congregation, and her children speak both English and Spanish. About five years ago, she realized that people who do not speak English couldn’t fully participate in Resurrection, an annual spiritual weekend for about 10,000 youth and counselors held in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
“The whole idea behind Resurrection is for youth leaders to go back and expand on what was said for their youth, but they can’t do that if they didn’t hear it,” says Castenir, a member at St. John United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tenn.
Castenir decided to do something about that. She talked to the Resurrection Design Team about providing language translation for youth or counselors who want to attend Resurrection but who don’t speak English.
While everyone else is sitting in the auditorium listening to the music or message, Castenir is behind the scenes, standing behind a curtain or in a production room. She listens to the words spoken or sung in English and repeats them in Spanish into a microphone. The microphone is connected to a transmitter which broadcasts to listeners wearing headphones in the audience.
“There was such a need for this that we requested our production company to acquire the equipment,” said the Rev. Jason Roe, leader of the Resurrection Design team. “Now we’re using it at other events. Resurrection was a pilot for that.”
ON THE SAME PAGE
Castenir says that other volunteers have helped with the translation ministry, but not all bilingual speakers can translate quickly and for multiple three-hour stretches over three days.
“There’s a mental tiredness, and then I can’t think straight and I don’t know what language I’m speaking,” Castenir says of the long interpretation stints she does at Resurrection each January.
Castenir is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, married to the Rev. Daniel Castillo, associate pastor at St. John (San Juan) United Methodist Church in Maryville. Castillo’s home is Querétaro, Mexico, and his first language is Spanish.
At Resurrection, about five or seven listeners benefit from the Spanish translations, typically adults, she says. Hispanic youth can usually speak both English and Spanish and so they don’t need the headphones.
At Rez Kidz, a children’s ministry event held Feb. 3-4, about 15 Spanish-speaking United Methodists (mostly parents) from three congregations used the headphones.
“It’s important to put the adults and parents on the same page as the younger generations,” Roe said.
Holston Conference currently has nine Hispanic congregations, including natives of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, El Salvador, and Brazil. About five congregations have had members who participated in Holston events with help from Castenir’s Spanish interpretation, including San Juan (Maryville), El Ministerios del Espiritu Santo (Sevierville), Manantial de Vida (Abingdon, Virginia), and First United Methodist Church (Pulaski, Virginia).
“It was great for us to know all that was said. We don’t know much English. It is better if someone is translating. This way we got more blessings,” said Aaron de la Cruz, a member at San Juan who attended Rez Kidz in February. (He spoke in Chinanteco, indigenous to his hometown in Oaxaca, Mexico.)
“I enjoyed a lot in the event,” de la Cruz said. “I learned from the word of God … I even shed tears.”
OFFERING IT TO OTHERS
After seeing the translation successes at Resurrection and Rez Kidz, St. John United Methodist Church and the Holston Conference United Methodist Women (UMW) purchased their own transmitter systems.
Three languages can be transmitted at once, and both the UMW and St. John have 10 headphones each. The production company that works with Resurrection has 30 headphones. The transmitter system can also be used to provide “assistive listening” for people with hearing loss.
Castenir said the UMW hoped that offering interpretation through the transmitter system would foster more events in which English-speaking and Spanish-speaking members could join together.
Planners for the Holston Annual Conference have also been requested to provide Spanish translation for the June 10-13, 2018, meeting in Lake Junaluska, N.C., which could encourage more Hispanic church members to participate.
“If Hispanic pastors promoted Annual Conference as something important, there might be people who would come, even if it’s just for a certain session or for a day,” Castenir said. “Interpretation would definitely open some doors, just by offering it, and then the pastors and people could decide if it’s possible.”
Contact Annette Spence at annettespence@Holston.org.
Photos below: (1) Kacye Castiner interprets Rez Kidz on Feb. 3. (2) Norma Orellana of St. John UMC joins in Rez Kidz with the help of language translation through headphones.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.