Nigerian UMC Launches Deaf Congregation

Source: United Methodist News

The Nigeria Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church marked the start of 2022 with the planting of its first deaf congregation – First Wesleyan United Methodist Church of the Deaf in Mutum Biyu, Gassol, in Taraba State new congregation.

The new church is composed of 30 members and is led by Deacon Albert A. Pena, the first ordained Deaf pastor in The United Methodist Church in Nigeria.

During the inaugural worship service of Holy Communion, Area Bishop John Wesley Yohanna asked the congregation, “Do you believe that God is calling you to worship in The United Methodist Church? If so, can I hear you affirm that?” Signing in unity, all responded, “Yes, we believe.”

In his sermon shared with the congregation, Bishop Yohanna empathetically declared, “Time is coming when no one shall be physically challenged.” Reading from Matthew 11:1-11, he recalled a conversation between Jesus and a follower of John the Baptist. Jesus advised, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

“We need only believe in God,” Yohanna said. “One day, we will be healed of every kind of challenge when Jesus returns to take us home. We will be like Jesus as we all dwell in his presence,” he continued.

Responding to the sermon in his remarks Pastor Pena thanked the bishop and recalled his experiences as a seminarian at Banyam Theological Seminary where in 2015 address to his colleagues he highlighted the need for a deaf congregation. He said, “About 80% of them [deaf worshippers] either take solace with a nearby church, where they are half-fed or become passive Christians because of lack of a good shepherd.”

This new congregation is working to change that.

After the worship service using sign language, one of the founding congregants Patricia Joseph captured the sentiments of many of the members, “I am very happy with the response of The United Methodist Church, who welcomed us into their family. Our dream of becoming a church is fulfilled today. Glory be to God!”

Source: United Methodist News