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Deaf Churches

Worshipping with Other Deaf People

By

Updated September 05, 2011

If you are fortunate enough to live in a region with enough deaf and hard of hearing people, there may be deaf churches near you. Some deaf churches, a relative few, have their own buildings. The majority seem to be churches within a larger "hearing" church.

Why Go to a Deaf Church

Why do deaf people go to deaf churches? For the same reason that some deaf people enjoy socializing with other deaf people: to be with others like themselves. In addition, the experience in a deaf church is more direct -- one doesn't have to rely on an interpreter. Being in a deaf church also gives the deaf congregation member a sense of "family." Some deaf churches even have their own deaf pastors, priests, or leaders.

History of Deaf Churches

Deaf churches have been around for generations, dating back to the nineteenth century. For example, the Fulton-Siemers Memorial-Christ United Methodist Church of the Deaf in Baltimore, Maryland was established in 1895, and it is still operational. However, an even earlier deaf church was established by the Rev. Thomas Gallaudet (the son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet). On October 3, 1852, he started a deaf congregation, which grew into the St. Ann's Church for the Deaf. This church is still active today, and can be found within St. George's Episcopal Church on East 16th Street in New York City.

The All Souls Church for the Deaf of Philadelphia (established in 1888) had the first ordained deaf pastor, Henry Syle. Syle was ordained in 1876. Today, his memory is honored by the Henry Syle Memorial Fellowship for Seminar Studies, a Gallaudet University scholarship given to a deaf graduate student. Information on the fund can be found by reviewing the endowed funds brochure on Gallaudet University's Development Office site.

Do you prefer a deaf church or a hearing church? Discuss your preference on our forum.

Sources:

Gallaudet University Archives, http://archives.gallaudet.edu/. Accessed: October 28, 2007.

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