NEC CAMP MEETING MEET NEEDS OF THE DEAF

7th July 2017

The North England Conference (NEC) Camp Meeting at Southport was a great experience and for many of the team providing services at the site a very tiring event. Two of the most tired people on the site were Angela Walker and Lorna McKenzie who had provided signing communication for the adult audience throughout the week, 26 June - 2 July.

British Sign Language is likened to taking a sentence and turning it into a picture for a person to see what is being spoken about.

Standing to the right of each speaker and often in camera vision for the streamed presentations the ladies worked in shifts retelling the message of the speaker in ‘hand-pictures’ using BSL, British Sign Language. With one known Deaf person in the audience and unknown others the service was provided not just because of a simple need on the day but also to set an example of the need for every church to be able to provide sign language communication for regular worship in churches around the Conferences and Missions. The congregation experienced first-han1H3A7616d a minor example of the frustration a Deaf person must feel as Pastor Jeynes interviewed Lorna McKenzie on the Sabbath afternoon – in complete silence – seeing only hand gestures.

Lorna explained that it is estimated that only 2% of the world’s Deaf people have heard about Jesus. The lack of Deaf people in our congregations is not because of the fact that we are blessed with good health but it is because we simply do not provide a service for Deaf people. We exclude Deaf people from the gospel. Providing a hearing aid loop, it seems, is simply not enough to minister to Deaf people.

Angela explained that as she signed for a party of Deaf people in another faith setting one member of the faith group explained that her visit was the first time her church leaders had been able to explain her faith to her.

A visit to a Jehovah’s Witness assembly or a Mormon church would likely find a Deaf person able to be welcomed and signed for during worship. To take the theme of the Children’s Ministries programme, we truly hide our light under a bushel when we do not provide communication for people who are Deaf and visitors who need sign communication.

Lorna explained that sh1H3A7642e and Angela were part of a team who provide BSL communication for churches. Led by Pastor George Hamilton, who is based in Bradford, the group have provided basic instruction to the Wolverhampton and Bradford churches and can provide further training. The team, ‘Sign the Word’, suggest that every church should, at the very least, be able to greet a Deaf person in sign language even if a full communication service cannot be provided.

The NEC, through Sister Grace Walsh, Health Ministries director, have committed funds to helping develop sign language use in churches. Our local churches truly ought to be realising that while we may wish to reach our neighbourhoods, our friends or our Moslem neighbours, we also need to reach out to Deaf people or people who are finding it difficult to hear.

Our BSL communicators received warm applause and a grateful thank you for their efforts during the week at Camp Meeting. They truly had been able to help share the gospel during the week as well as opening up a world of potential involvement and excitement in God’s remnant church.

 

 

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