By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.
Almost a generation after its founding, Magothy United Methodist Church of the Deaf is still going strong. It is one of only two Deaf churches in the United Methodist denomination, and is now celebrating over 35 years as a church.
Magothy began as a missional congregation in 1975. The Deaf congregation was approved and chartered as a church in 1982. Flo Johnson, one of the founding members tells of its inception. "My husband, Ed, and I lived in Pasadena, MD. One of the deaf worship services in the area at that time was at the Baptist Church. We weren't drawn to their tradition. In fact, we quite enjoyed Wesleyan history and Methodist hymns. Most Deaf people do not enjoy music since they do not hear it, but we did. We often led hymns during worship,” says Johnson.
"Magothy has evolved over the decades, which initially served the Deaf and hard of hearing individuals and their families living in Anne Arundel County, to now serving both Deaf and hearing people. In fact, many of the Deaf and hard of hearing individuals attending Magothy Deaf Church are seen serving hearing people in their community, such as assisting with coordination of the church's Door Step Mission (food pantry), making bag lunches for the annual winter relief, through sign language classes for the community, and other ministries. While there is a hearing focus, Magothy still has a deaf focus that includes ministries such as the Deaf Seniors Program and a deaf addiction recovery support group," says Rev. Leo Yates, Jr., a provisional deacon appointed to the church.
“Our Deaf church is very important to my family and I’m thankful it is here for the Deaf community,” says Darlene Koontz, a long-time church leader.
The worship experience caters to both deaf and hearing people, where songs are signed and sung, says Pastor Emily Smiley, the current pastor. "Thirty-five years is a long time for a church and we are grateful to the Baltimore-Washington Conference for financially supporting the church over the years," says Pastor Smiley.
To celebrate this important milestone, Magothy Deaf Church does what many United Methodist churches do: host a potluck lunch after worship. The dinner will be April 29, 2017.