Dear New Life Friends,
"Did you hear that?"
That’s a phrase most of us utilize without thinking of the implications.
I know I use it all the time. In fact, just this past week I asked… Did you hear the birds chirping this morning? Did you hear that truck go by? Did you hear that tight harmony? Did you hear that child laughing? and many more…
But the experience of thousands of individuals in the Richmond area who are deaf and hard of hearing is very different. Especially when it comes to choosing a church home.
Finding a church home can be a difficult task. Do you like the people? Do they provide adequate children and youth programs for our family? Can I connect with others like me? Do I find the sermon relevant to my life?
Due to the lack of services in our area, many deaf and hard of hearing individuals who may not have a church home, feel socially isolated from the church, and have a need or desire to connect with other people of faith.
Of the thousands of churches in the Richmond area, only four offer sign language interpretation for their worship services.
We want to make that five.
At New Life, our goal is to ensure everyone is engaged and has the opportunity to grow spiritually, but we now know we have a major shortcoming. We have members who are deaf and, therefore, cannot participate fully in our worship service, hear the sermons in real time, or communicate easily with other members of the congregation.
We have been attempting to facilitate their participation by providing the sermon notes to help them follow the worship service. However, we realize this is an insufficient solution. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). In order for the deaf to truly “hear”, feel, and be moved by the spirit and allow them to be more engaged in our worship, an interpreter is needed to communicate directly with them through sign language.
An interpreter does not just translate verbatim or sign each spoken word. Instead, an interpreter signs the meaning of the spoken language in a culturally relevant way. An ASL interpreter will enable our deaf members to truly “hear” the word of God, “listen” to the sermons, and engage in worship just as every other member currently does. Through our Deaf Ministry, we will be able to reach out to the larger deaf community in the area and invite others to become disciples of Jesus Christ and grow spiritually alongside us for the transformation of the world.
Twice a year, at Christmas and Easter, we have a special offering for a specific ministry. This year our Easter Offering, over and above our regular giving, will go towards supporting a sign language interpreter. We have received a grant from the Virginia United Methodist Church to cover 1/2 year of services and would like to secure the other half of the year by raising over $4000.
If you would like to participate in this offering, consider saving a dollar a day for the 40 days of Lent and either bring in the offering on Easter or contribute online marking it Special Easter Offering. If you choose to take this challenge over the next several weeks, I’m sure you will hear things differently when we celebrate the resurrection on Easter.
Did you hear that? That’s the sound of someone hearing and seeing and experiencing the good news of Jesus because of you!
Blessings in Christ,