A few lessons from the deaf community

I had the wonderful privilege earlier this week to talk with Cindy Dively, a deaf worship leader/pastor. It was the first time I've used a relay service to talk to someone, which is an operator service that lets people who are deaf call someone through either a keyboard or video device. To be honest, I thought it was a little weird to have someone mediate for first conversation, but I couldn't have done it without this service.

Here are a few lessons I learned from my new friend:
1. Drums are used to help keep rhythm by feeling the beat...literally.
2. Songs translated from English to ASL convey the meaning of the song versus a word for word translation...in some cases.
3. On a typical Sunday there is only one person up front to lead worship. During special occasions like Christmas or Easter they will have a choir.
4. The deaf worship leader tells the PowerPoint person when to go to the next slide.
5. Deaf worship leaders incorporate poems, as well as songs during the worship service.
6. People from the congregation will raise their hands and sign the words amen or hallelujah when appropriate. In a hearing church we'd probably hear people shout it out during the sermon.
7. PowerPoint is being used by the deaf community. At Cindy's church you will typically see the English and the ASL on the PowerPoint.

I hope this gives you a little insight into how the deaf community worships. My time with Cindy was certainly a learning experience. I am at the beginning stages of learning about the deaf community, so I don't claim to have great knowledge about ASL or the deaf community.

Does your church have a deaf ministry? Are you deaf? How does your church worship? What are some things hearing people should be aware of?

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Peter Park
Blogger/Worship Leader/Speaker
(800) 453-3284

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Views: 41

Comment by Edward Rice on January 22, 2010 at 1:36am
The pastor of my church is deaf as are his two sons. It is really interesting to listen to his testimony. Someone with his level of hearing loss wouldn't normally be in a profession where public speaking is part of the job. He speaks very well though we do have a few funny moments from time to time. That being said, we don't have a deaf ministry.
Comment by Peter Park on January 22, 2010 at 4:19am
Interesting. So, your pastor knows how to talk, but he's deaf. Awesome. Where do you go to church?
Comment by Edward Rice on January 22, 2010 at 9:25pm
Columbia, MD. It kind of sits between Baltimore, MD and Washington DC. The other interesting bit is that he doesn't really sign. His wife who has normal hearing does cued speech which helps folks who read lips. I have a good amount of hearing loss myself and typically wear hearing aids but I don't wear them when I am on stage because the monitor levels cause them to overdrive and distort.
Comment by Elman Authement on January 23, 2010 at 4:22pm
My wife has been signing for the deaf for many years. We don't have a deaf ministry though in our church because we have "no deaf people". Edward, evidently your Pastor must have gradually lost his hearing if he can speak so well, right? I have many deaf friends who were born deaf and there speech is very impaired to where they couldn't lead a congregation. But if you learned to speak and then lost your hearing, at least you have an advantage.


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