Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Churches Offer Deaf a Welcome Sign Hearing Impaired Find Interpreters at Many Services

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Churches Offer Deaf a Welcome Sign Hearing Impaired Find Interpreters at Many Services

Article excerpt

Community churches are tuning in to the plight of the deaf.

Several are opening Masses, services and Sunday School classes to the hearing impaired through sign language interpreters, sound technology and visual aids.

Sign interpreters Lisa Smith and Doreen Lawman are visible during the 9:30 a.m. Sunday service at United Methodist Church of the Shepherd on McClay Road in St. Charles County. On the third Sunday of each month, Smith and Lawman stand to the right of the altar and interpret scripture, sermons and songs.

Following the service, Gerald Graner, a deaf lay minister from St. Louis County, holds Sunday school classes in sign language for adults and children.

The Rev. Bruce Antle, associate pastor at United Methodist Church of the Shepherd, said churches are becoming more sensitive to people with handicaps that cannot be seen.

"Churches have installed wheelchair ramps, for example. But serving the hearing impaired is something we haven't done much about," he said.

Antle said that United Methodist Church of the Shepherd is targeting hearing impaired members of all ages.

"These are people for whom a hearing aid isn't even an option - those who can only communicate through sign, lip reading or a combination," Antle said.

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in St. Charles offers a sign interpreted Mass by Deaf Link every Saturday at 5 p.m. The church also has a sound system that provides hearing aids to the congregation, allowing members to hear the service without outside interference.

The Rev. Richard Tillman said the church has offered services for those who are hearing-impaired since Borromeo's restoration in 1991.

"We have one woman who comes regularly to the sign-interpreted Mass along with several others. We have about 15 people who take advantage of the hearing aids," Tillman said.

Lisa Smith is a part-time sign interpreter for businesses, schools and churches and a member of United Methodist Church of the Shepherd. …

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