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Issue 8: July 2019

Serving at a Deaf Church

Rosie Borgaila (Honey Creek, Iowa), Junior Student

Many Bible college students have grown up in a Christian home, going to church every Sunday, participating in Bible studies and camps. My beginning is similar to that but with one significant difference: I grew up going to a Deaf church. The first reaction when I tell people this is usually a lot of questions: “What is a Deaf church?” “How does a Deaf church run?” and “How do they worship, do they sing songs?”

These questions are answered by knowing Deaf culture. Deaf church is exactly what it sounds like: a church with services all done in ASL (American Sign Language). If there are hearing people attending the church, we will have an interpreter voice the services so the Deaf people still have it in their language but the hearing people can understand as well.

The order of service also works a bit different from other churches. A hearing church might start out with a few songs, then go into communion and offering, sing a song or two for those, then have announcements and the message, finally closing in a departure song. (Lots and lots of singing!)

In a Deaf church we don’t have many songs, because it’s hard to enjoy music when you can’t hear it. We usually start services with prayer, asking God to move and be prevalent in the message. Then we greet visitors, followed by prayer time. This happens with everyone gathering around the room in a circle and sharing their praises and prayer requests with God. This promotes community and opportunity for God to be present since we are all praying ‘aloud’ for everyone to hear. After that we’ll have a time where everyone in the church greets every person. This usually lasts longer than regular greeting times since Deaf people don’t just shake hands. They ask questions and have a conversation that they might pick up later on after the service.

In the middle of the service we have a sermon. All of this is in ASL, though we sometimes use videos with words on it, or the ASL translation of the Bible by Deaf Missions. Having the church service in the Deaf person’s language helps them get the full meaning and not a translation. Finally we have communion, which will sometimes be in groups to further promote community.

Deaf church has helped me understand there is not one set way to do things. We must adapt the message to different groups. This doesn’t change the meaning of the gospel but how we say it and how we get the word out there.

Students like Rosie are part of our Servant-Leader Sponsorship program.

You can sponsor one of them or another student with a monthly commitment of $25 or more.

Click “Donate” below or contact Director of Donor Relations, Kevin Brown, at 660-372-2510 or kevinbrown@cccb.edu to sponsor a student.

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