A unique partnership between the Church of England and the Baptist Association in the Midlands, United Kingdom will encourage deaf people to play a leading role in local worship, the Diocese of Lichfield posted on its website.

Deaf Church brings deaf and hearing Christians together through services that use British Sign Language (BSL) as the main means of communicating.

It has spread to various congregations across the Diocese of Lichfield—an area which includes Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the Black Country, and most of Shropshire—in recent years.

Now, Baptist Minister the Reverend Susan Myatt has been appointed as the new Deaf Chaplain for Lichfield Diocese. She will lead and coordinate monthly Deaf Church services at St Michael and All Angels in Penkridge and oversee pastoral care for deaf people across the Diocese.

Susan, who was born profoundly deaf, has established a Deaf Café at Rising Brook Baptist Church in Stafford where she is a minister. She works with Baptist churches nationally on deaf issues and is a trustee of Deaf Anglicans Together.

“I love to find unity across the whole church and it is important to me that both deaf and hearing Christians are able to worship, pray, and enjoy their faith together, using BSL as our main language,” said Myatt.

“I am passionate that deaf people are empowered and encouraged to worship God in their own language and to explore their faith using creative and visual ways in prayer, bible study, drama, and crafts,” Myatt said. “I also feel called to help the hearing Christian community join in with this so that deaf and hearing together can express their faith and worship. I hope that all this will lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.”

Susan, who is set to be commissioned at a special service next month, will work alongside local Anglican priests who use BSL and will support her with the celebration of the eucharist. She carries on the crucial work of previous chaplain the Reverend Leonie Wheeler who established and developed Deaf Church in the diocese, aided by Gill Meller.

Commenting on the new partnership between the diocese and the Heart of England Baptist Association (HEBA), the Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Reverend Michael Ipgrave, said: “I am really pleased that we have appointed Susan to develop our ministry to bring deaf and hearing Christians together across the Diocese.

“Working across Christian denominations in this way is a practical outworking of the Gospel by showing that there is greater strength in unity as we serve together,” said Ipgrave.

The Reverend Adrian Argile, regional minister and team leader from HEBA added: “I am delighted that we can partner together to see Susan released to serve the congregation at Penkridge. This partnership expresses our commitment to work together in sharing the love of Jesus and we pray that it will strengthen relationships and bring much fruit for the Kingdom of God.”

Source: Diocese of Lichfield

Image: Diocese of Lichfield