Epworth United Methodist Church in Rehoboth Beach has announced a new ministry to the deaf community. Its Sunday worship service at 9:15 a.m. is now recorded with an American Sign Language interpreter as the main focus with a picture-in-picture of the church service. The recordings are now available online.
This opens the possibility of worship for deaf people around the world who know American Sign Language but do not have access to worship in their language. The recording includes the audio track in case a hearing person who may not know ASL is watching the video with a deaf person.
Any church anywhere may develop a deaf ministry easily by showing the Epworth recording on a big-screen TV. Epworth is providing a downloadable copy of the worship service bulletin as well as a copy of the song lyrics for each service.
For nine years, Epworth UMC has offered an interpreted worship service in its effort to have open minds, open hearts and open doors. Deaf people actively participate in church life by signing scripture, offering prayers, singing (by signing) with the praise team, attending a deaf Sunday school and serving as ushers.
Carol Stevens, deaf ministry coordinator for the Peninsula-Delaware Conference of the United Methodist Church, quotes statistics that say in the U.S., only 1 percent of deaf people consider themselves active Christians. There are very few churches with deaf members and an interpreted worship service. Now, deaf people who desire to may worship and learn about God in their own language.
Funding for the new ministry came from several sources including the David Fariss Memorial Fund at Epworth and a grant from the UMC Peninsula-Delaware Conference. Funding also came from the UMC NorthEast Jurisdiction and the United Methodist Committee for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries.
Epworth United Methodist Church is at 19285 Holland Glade Road, just north of Rehoboth Beach off Route 1. Epworth UMC is a church exploring faith and embracing community, truly practicing open doors, open minds and open hearts as a member of the Reconciling Ministry Network, and includes American Sign Language services. For more information about Epworth, go to www.eumcrb.org.