Deaf Ministries Resumes at Southeast Church
Story by Cecily Bryant
Allegheny West Conference's Southeast church in Cleveland recently opened more accessibility to in-person worship because the Deaf Ministries Department has resumed its weekly sign language interpretation. According to Donna Dixon, disabilities coordinator, “We are working on how to bring that [sign language] to all of our platforms so that deaf people, no matter where they are, can enjoy our services.”
Before the pandemic, the Southeast Deaf Ministries was a creative group featuring a well-known signing choir called Hands-in-Ministry (H.I.M.). At its peak, H.I.M. extended beyond church walls, reaching many in the community who experienced God through music and sign language.
Dixon states, “A successful Deaf Ministries is one that has made the church accessible and welcoming to the deaf community, has deaf members who are active in church and who see themselves as integral to the congregation. Only two percent of deaf individuals globally have been introduced to Christ. We still have such a work to do, and, whether we know sign language or not, each of us can share Christ on some level with them.”
Conducting sign language classes over Zoom has allowed the ministry to expand, with students attending from as far away as Louisiana and Brooklyn, N.Y. They do not have to be members of Southeast, says Dixon: “They can take what they learn back to their own churches. It’s all about God, not just about Southeast. Deaf Ministries is a collective effort. To me, that’s what makes it special.”