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Church in Nigeria welcomes first Deaf congregation (UM News)

March 23, 2022

The Nigeria Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church recently welcomed its first church of the Deaf.

Resident Bishop John Wesley Yohanna introduced the new congregation, First Wesleyan United Methodist Church of the Deaf in Mutum Biyu, Gassol, in Taraba State.

Deacon Albert A. Pena, the first ordained Deaf pastor in The United Methodist Church in Nigeria, said the congregation’s 30 members had belonged to several mainline denominations, as well as nondenominational churches, before joining the new church.

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.”

The congregation shared in Holy Communion and songs of praise.

Pena thanked the bishop, David, director of evangelism the Rev. John Simon Jatutu and Southern Nigeria Conference leaders for the successful establishment of the church. He also expressed gratitude to the Rev. Chan Kim for his immense support to the ministry of the Deaf.

In a 2015 speech at Banyam Theological Seminary, Pena said creating a new church for the Deaf was essential. “About 80% of them,” he said, “either take solace with a nearby church, where they are half-fed or become passive Christians because of lack of a good shepherd.”

The Deaf congregation began gathering for worship seven years ago.

Using sign language, Patricia Joseph said, “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!”