Unique partnership to encourage Deaf Church
A unique partnership between the Church of England and the Heart of England Baptist Association will encourage deaf people to play a leading role in local worship.
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 with a population of over two million which includes Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the Black Country and most of Shropshire – in recent years.
Now, Baptist minister the Revd Susan Myatt (pictured) 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.
She said, '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 British Sign language as our main language.
'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.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 Revd Dr Leonie Wheeler who established and developed Deaf Church in the diocese, aided by Dr Gill Meller.
Commenting on the new partnership between the diocese and the Heart of England Baptist Association, the Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Revd Dr 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.'
The Revd Adrian Argile, Regional Minister and Team Leader from the Heart of England Baptist Association 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.'
Baptists Together magazine invited Susan Myatt to participate in a filmed conversation with co-Principal Glen Marshall reflecting on how Susan’s time at Northern Baptist College has equipped her for the ministry to which she has been called.
Click here to access the video and read an edited transcript of the conversation.
Picture | Diocese of Lichfield