News from the
United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Ministries,
a unit of the General Board of Global Ministries

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In this issue: Tom Hudspeth thinks about connections and we review the year.

Blessings to you this New Year of 2023


As consultant for the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries, I celebrate the year 2022 as a remarkable time of growing for our Church’s witness in ministry with, of, by and for Deaf and hard of hearing people. 


One of our committee members, Rev. Leo Yates of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, initiated a Deaf Awareness micro-grant program that awarded 14, $500 grants to churches from Zimbabwe to Prescott, Arizona. These churches sparked conversations about including Deaf people in the life of the church. In one example, a Deaf ministry in Dallas cooked hamburgers for the congregation, teaching basic ASL signs, Deaf culture, and captioning technology. After the event one church member committed her captioning/court reporting company in providing captioning in a hybrid Sunday School class and for in-person worship. In another awareness event in Nashville, the church received such a positive response, that their plans for 2023 is to provide interpreter in worship and ASL classes. 


Apart from these micro-grants, efforts in Zambia by a local Deaf teacher of the Deaf, Martin, led to the first Deaf UMC worship service in that country on December 11, 2022. Meeting in classroom space negotiated with the headmaster of a Deaf school in Kabwe and with support from the District Superintendent of Lusaka, Rev. Mainsa Daiman, 17 local Deaf met for worship and praise. They are developing a plan for teaching job skills such as welding and animal husbandry, as well as teaching in sign language God’s Word in Christ. Partnering with Martin was the United Methodist Congress of the Deaf, which donated funds for Martin’s travels and interpreter in his meetings with Rev. Daiman. This vision in Zambia is also happening in a larger scale in the Tanzania Annual Conference, as the Yatosha Deaf team are at work in three locations: Dar Es Salaam, Mwanza and Sengerema. They have a big dream project of building a Deaf Center that will serve around 300 students (K-12) in the Lake Victoria area.


This good news begat more good news as our 2023 program budget was increased by $7500 by the GBGM. We also received commitment to support a small team to meet at the UMC’s flagship Africa University in Zimbabwe. This team will celebrate the graduation of the first Deaf theology student (whom we helped sponsor) at AU and to further support sign language access for more Deaf students.


Our committee welcomed a new pastor to our work, Rev. Zach Holler of Grace UMC in Waverly, Ohio. As a person who is Deaf-Blind, Rev. Holler’s participation will drive further gains that our connection receives when ALL are included. Our hopes this year include a Deaf Lay servant training event. Please consider this ministry in your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Our Advance Special can be found at https://umcmission.org/advance-project/982562/


Grace and peace, Rev. Dr. Tom Hudspeth

Consultant

First worship service, Kabwe Deaf UMC, Zambia and first worship participants, Kabwe Deaf UMC, Zambia. Leader, Martin Sichone (standing, at far right):

four people stand in front of a classroom
many people gathered after church service

2022: The Year In Review


In the past year, the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries Committee (DHM) has remained committed to providing guidance, advocacy, and support to churches throughout the United Methodist connection. As part of this work, we have completed a number of tasks to support the denomination. Some of what was accomplished includes:

  • Partnering with the United Methodist Congress of the Deaf (a Deaf caucus) to support a special service commemorating International Deaf Awareness Week
  • The committee approved over 20 grants to churches that will provide assisted listening systems, fund new ministries, and conduct outreach among Deaf and hard-of-hearing populations
  • The committee also approved 3 scholarships for leaders in Deaf ministry
  • We have advocated for communication accessibility, such as captions and ASL interpretation across the denomination
  • We provided consultation to churches to improve accessibility and inclusion of Deaf and hard of hearing persons, and supported churches and ministries in community outreach
  • Through social media, newsletters, and other media, we have promoted Deaf ministry and church events that include Deaf and hard-of-hearing persons
  • Through the UMC's connectional system, we have forged stronger partnerships with ministries in Tanzania and Zimbabwe
  • Through the UMC's ecumenical interests, we have participated in the Disability Ministry Network, an offshoot of the Congregational Access Network, which seeks to create a list of services, ministries, and methods to exchange ideas and best practices, and ensured that the needs of Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are represented
  • Maintained a website with a variety of resources, including an online directory of virtual and physical worship services that are accessible or are Deaf led
  • Supported the start of a Deaf-oriented care site, https://pastoral-care.org/


We are blessed to partner with churches so Deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened, and Deafblind persons are discipled and have deeper and meaningful relationships with churches and ministries.

By Rev. Dr. Leo Yates, Tim Vermande, Bryan Branson

Resource UMC

The article "How Hearing Loops Revolutionized my World" by Ibrahim (Ib) Dabo in our last newsletter was picked up by Resource UMC and published on their Facebook page: How Hearing Loops Significantly Improved My Understanding of Speech



Looking for an ASL or captioned service? See the Ministry Directory and add your church if it's not listed, or send a correction: umdeaf@gmail.com. 

BWC Accessibility Conversations


The Commission on Disability Concerns of the Baltimore-Washington Conference sponsors a series of conversations on disability, accessibility, and sharing, on the first Friday of every month at 11:00 Eastern time. More information


The UMCD Facebook page has started again: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100083694045336

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