Church reaches out to the Deaf

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Quakers Hill, New South Wales

As a Church, we have done little for this demographic. The Church has a clear mission to reach all tongues and peoples, the Deaf among them, and so is funding the initiative.

For the first time, the Adventist Church is presenting and broadcasting a weekly AUSLAN-signed church service for the benefit of the Deaf community.

New Hope, a church plant at Quakers Hill in Sydney’s west, in partnership with Christian Services for the Blind and Hearing Impaired (CSFBHI), has added live signing to its Sabbath service broadcast.

“As a Church, we have done little for this demographic,” said Lee Dunstan, CSFBHI manager. “The Church has a clear mission to reach all tongues and peoples, the Deaf among them, and so is funding the initiative.”

New Hope, with 200-300 members attending each week and an audience of up to 1000 online, plans to promote the signing service among the Deaf community. 

Mr Dunstan said New Hope was chosen because of its welcoming, informal format and location, but mostly because of its professional video team, who live broadcast Sabbath services to YouTube, which are rebroadcast on Hope Channel.

“For me personally, it has been a 35-year dream to see this, as my mum was deaf,” said New Hope video producer Andrew Hunt, who delivers the broadcasts. “I’d always wanted to do sign language, so when Lee approached New Hope with the proposition and funding, we jumped at the opportunity.”

To ensure high production values and continuity of delivery, CSFBHI has contracted professional signers from the Deaf Society, which according to Mr Dunstan, come at considerable cost—some $10,000 annually. CSFBHI is funded by a bi-annual offering, bequests and donations.

“We’ve committed to making our Church more inclusive and its unique message more accessible to the Deaf,” Mr Dunstan said. “Most of the Deaf, Adventist or otherwise, don’t attend church as there are very few signed services available. CSFBHI sees the New Hope initiative as a model, something that each conference will take up.

“For example, the South Queensland Conference is supporting the Logan Reserve church, which has a once-a-month signed church service. The church records the service and puts it on YouTube.” 

Logan Reserve also runs an annual camp for the Deaf, with the next in late October. Watch the video above, or head to Vimeo to download and share the video with your friends. For further information, visit www.sdadeafdu.org/camp2016.

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