By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.
Deaf and hearing people, both individuals and families, came from a variety of church groups and traveled from different parts of the country to work as partners at the Red Bird Mission Work Camp in Beverly, Kentucky during the week of August 11-16, 2019. The diverse group of about 75 persons represented various racial ethnicities, ranged from hearing well to hard-of-hearing to Deaf, and included some with physical disabilities. The group included lay and clergy, and, of course, sign language interpreters. All of these gathered and embodied the mission team. They came to do needed home repairs in the Appalachian Mountains.
|Work crew preparing to go to a work site.|
This Deaf and hearing partnership was the first of its kind at the Red Bird Mission, and showed how hearing and Deaf people can work together as a team for a common goal. This one-of-a-kind joining together for a missional purpose was led by Bishop Peggy Johnson. Johnson has over two decades of experience in Deaf ministry. Hearing team members were oriented to some basic signs so they could have simple conversations with Deaf and hard-of-hearing team members. Sign language interpreters were on hand and participated on the mission team to bridge communications when necessary. Examples included daily devotions, worship, instructions at the work-site, and team meetings.
|Deaf and hearing people working together.|
|A sign language interpreter working.|
|Team-building exercise with Deaf and hearing team members.|
With this in mind, plans are being considered for future mission trips where more Deaf and hard-of-hearing youth and young adults will be invited to join a mission team. Keep a watch on the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Committee and United Methodist Congress of the Deaf Facebook pages for news.