deaf people at goldings
Goldings Church has a growing deaf community within our church. Our deaf people join us for an integrated morning service EVERY SUNDAY. The service is interpreted into BSL (British Sign language) by interpreters Kim Sandy and Gill Hawkins. We are also excited to have Sophie Roberts on board. Kim is the hearing daughter of deaf parents, and Sophie has a deaf brother. Our Pastor is also a fluent sign language communicator.
We have recently run a deaf awareness course, which was fun and informative. We currently have a number of people learning sign language! Goldings Church is a place where people from all backgrounds and abilities are welcomed among us.
The picture above shows our Heavenly Hands Choir, where mainly deaf people (and a few hearing people who's lives are touched by deafness) worship God together in sign language. The choir is a powerful expression of worship and loved by the congregation at Goldings. They are a great team, who share in common the desire to exalt Christ through their expressions of worship.
Deaf People and Hearing People worshipping side by side.
My passion for the church is that we should be an all-inclusive body of believers. To me that means that whether we are young or old, black or white, deaf or hearing, we should find ways of accepting each other and breaking down barriers that divide and separate us. Only then can our church be pleasing to God. ‘For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.’ Ephesians 2 : 14
I strongly believe that in our church we must give deaf people space to be themselves, to worship God together in their own language, and to reflect their own culture. Deaf people thrive on opportunities to develop their own skills and gifts and currently we have deaf preachers, and teachers who lead meetings when its just the deaf people present. However, there must also be a time when we, deaf and hearing, come together, breaking down those barriers that Satan just loves, and worship God as one complete body.
I can understand why many deaf people can’t face the thought of being in an ‘integrated’ church and I don’t blame them! Why should deaf people only be observers of the service? Why should they sit in the corner and watch the hearing people doing everything? What is the point of that? No wonder some may feel left out and frustrated! That’s not real church!
At Goldings church we have had deaf people lead the service (with voice-overs), they can pray in the service, and share in sign language to other deaf people with a spoken voice-over provided so that we can all understand. We have deaf people on the welcome team, deaf people who collect the offering, and serve holy communion. We have had a deaf person give the children’s talk, and deaf people give their testimonies. We have had deaf people baptising people, and we have deaf members who participate in church meetings and tell the church what they want and how they feel. It’s wonderful! God has given His deaf people many wonderful gifts and abilities.
I am excited about the future and believe very strongly that many churches attitudes towards deaf people are going to be seriously challenged when they see what amazing things God is doing at Goldings Church.
© Jeremy Sandy 2018. Pastor of Goldings Church, Loughton
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