Language Deprivation is Spiritual Deprivation
a message from DHM consultant Rev. Dr. Thomas Hudspeth
Last month I visited with Caroline Koo, a PhD candidate in Austin, Texas who is a Deaf woman whose great grandfather was the first indigenous Chinese bishop of the Methodist Church in China. Caroline is a teacher and tutor in the Austin Community College system and is researching a thesis that Deaf adults experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from language deprivation.
She has discovered that there is trauma among middle-aged Deaf adults who realize how much language they have lost in their childhood and young adult years due to inadequate language instruction in home and school. I thought about what she said, and I thought of a connection: that language deprivation is also a form of spiritual deprivation.
Our spiritual life is fed by the language and stories of faith. In our churches, when there is a robust base of sign language, Deaf can access the narratives of our Christian faith. Yet only a scant 11 months ago, was the Bible completely translated into American Sign Language after a 38-year project by Deaf Missions in Council Bluffs, Iowa. For our English readers, could you imagine having to rely on Latin, Greek or Hebrew translations to understand the Bible? Not until 1560 did the English-speaking world first receive a bible in their language: the Geneva Bible. Now four hundred and sixty years later, Deaf people can draw upon their own language to more fully forge a biblical and theological language of faith.
From the book of Acts chapter 2, we are reminded that on Pentecost, Christ’s Church was birthed with the gift of languages, so that all could “understand the great things the apostles were saying about God.” (v.11) Our work as Christians called United Methodist, we are called to communicate the great works of God using language and technology (i.e., captioning) to minister to and with those who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late Deafened or Deaf Blind. May God’s grace help us to end spiritual deprivation wherever the Deaf may be.
Grace and peace, Rev. Dr. Tom Hudspeth, consultant
Church Interpreting Academy
On July 17, 2021, a church interpreting academy will be conducted, sponsored by the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries, Bethel AME church, and Emmanuel UMC.
This free virtual event offers three tracks:
- introduction to church interpreting--learning about the interpreter's role
- interpreting Scripture, for experienced interpreters
- introduction to sign language
The academy's goal is to prepare churches to be better inclusive of Deaf and hard-of-hearing audience, and to introduce the field to anyone interested in becoming a church interpreter. For seasoned interpreters, a track is being offered that offers techniques for message equivalency when engaging with Scripture.
In a time where many are striving for equality and social justice, this Church Interpreting Academy supports churches in taking concrete steps in doing so. The collaboration between The AME and UMC Deaf ministries shares a unique opportunity for working together in unity.
Deaf Lay Servant Training
Lovers Lane UMC, Dallas, and the DHM are offering a Deaf Lay Servant Training session. Both Basic and Advanced Certifications will be available. This CLS course has been adapted for those who are Deaf, Hard-of-hearing or Late-Deafened and will be taught in American Sign Language. For hearing people who want to be trained for Deaf ministry, this course will be of benefit to you as well.
Leading our CLS will be:
Carol Stevens (Director of Deaf Ministry Delaware Conference);
Rev. Dr. Kirk VanGilder (Elder and Assoc Professor of Religion, Gallaudet Univ., Washington D.C);
Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. (Deacon and Adjunct professor, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.);
Karen Miller (Lay Minister, Delaware), and;
Rev. Dr. Tom Hudspeth (Consultant UM-DHM and pastor of the Deaf, Lovers Lane UMC, Dallas, TX).
This CLS event will be in-person (no livestream), and will begin at 5pm, Friday, November 5, 2021 and end at 3pm, Sunday, November 7, 2021. Local hotel arrangements will be at Embassy Suites, Dallas Love Field.
For information about cost, schedule, and transportation, please contact Rev. Tom Hudspeth: