Signs Of
Deaf Awareness

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Planning an international convention is a huge job.  Now imagine how hard it would be if the delegates couldn’t hear.  But at one conference, language barriers didn’t stand in the way of a better understanding of issues facing the deaf.  Kim Riemland reports.

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(Locator: Baltimore MD)

They share a world without sound, so they chose to speak with their hands…in five different sign languages.

The Rev. Peggy Johnson/Christ United Methodist Church of the Deaf: “The language issues were many.  But so was the blessing, once we all got together to see it.”

People from over a dozen countries gathered in Baltimore, for the first-ever United Methodist Global Conference of the Deaf.  It was an opportunity to celebrate the challenges of serving this community.

The Rev. Peggy Johnson/Christ United Methodist Church of the Deaf:  “Deaf people find themselves often minimized by society. The world looks down on them as handicapped or disabled when really they are very capable people.”

Living in a world of silence didn’t stop a South Korean deaf choir from making a joyful noise.

(Choir performs)

This conference emphasized the need for more deaf pastors and churches…because in a hearing world, those who can’t often feel left out.  And, as this African pastor noted, when a church responds, it can ease a sense of isolation.

Amos Muyambo (my-yam'-bow)/ Deaf Pastor in Zimbabwe: “They were living lonely, lonely lives and they didn't know about God.”

Candis Shannon/President, United Methodist Global Conference of the Deaf:  “We need deaf pastors.  We need more connection to the deaf community.  We have different worlds to connect with.”

So, while this gathering overcame the language difficulties, barriers remain for the hearing-impaired.

Joo Kang/Deaf Pastor: “Deaf people, they don't think there's any reason to go to church, there's no need to do that.  We need to preach and emphasize that God loves deaf people, also.”


South Korea is one country that’s leading the way in deaf ministries.  Those attending the conference say the country now has 150 deaf churches.

For more information about deaf ministries, contact the United Methodist Congress of the Deaf.