Trinity UMC-Durand: Reaching the deaf


 Trinity United Methodist in Durand, Ga., is a small membership congregation with a great big heart.  Members have always been known for their generosity and willingness to help but are now reaching out to a population unknown to them a year ago. 
     "When I arrived at Trinity in June, I asked what ministries they envisioned for Trinity," said Rev. Angie Crummie, pastor. "Becky Sills, a new member and teacher of the deaf at the Roosevelt Institute, replied, 'Let's talk about a deaf ministry.' I had never thought of that possibility for a rural church but agreed to talk with her more about it."
    Sills began teaching a sign language class in the fall.  For this kind of ministry, it is important that some congregation members are able to converse in sign language in order to make the deaf guests feel welcome.  Sixteen persons took that first class and Trinity has three deaf persons attending on a regular basis.  A recent Christmas music program and the Christmas Eve service were interpreted in American Sign Language.
     The three deaf visitors are becoming very active in the church life, attending church suppers and other events. There are always several Trinity members ready and eager to welcome them and carry on a conversation in sign language.
     "It is exciting to see the members reaching out in this way," said the pastor. "One of our youth is working really hard on her sign language so that she may fill in when Mrs. Sills is out of town."