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1. In OT, deaf were protected by law (Lv 19:14). In NT, Jesus healed deaf (Mk 7:32–37). Word “ephphatha” (“be opened”), often used in work among deaf, was spoken by Jesus (Mk 7:34). Deafness is also ascribed to those who hear but do not understand (Is 42:18; 43:8; Mt 13:14). Healing deaf a sign of messianic kingdom. (Mt 11:5; Lk 7:22)

2. The condition of the deaf in the Greco-Roman world was deplorable. They were often regarded as defective and their rights were curtailed. Augustine* of Hippo held on the basis of Ro 10:17 that deafness hinders faith (Contra Julianum, III iv 10). For cents. the ch. made no organized effort to reach the deaf.

3. J. R. Pereire* originated a method of signing the alphabet with one hand. C. M. de l'Épée* perfected this method. T. H. Gallaudet* and L. Clerc brought this sign language to the US

4. In the 19th c. institutions for the deaf were est. in many parts of the world. Govts. and such educators as H. Mann* became interested in educ. of deaf. The RC Ch. est. the St. Joseph Inst. for the Deaf, St. Louis, Missouri, 1837.

5. In the 19th c. ministers of the Gospel led in bringing educ. to the deaf. Many clergymen served as administrators and teachers in residential schools. As educ. of deaf became more specialized, the clergy withdrew from school staffs and concentrated on Gospel ministry.

6. Thomas Gallaudet (1822–1902), son of T. H. Gallaudet, while serving on the faculty of the Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb, NYC, organized a Bible class and began conducting religious services for deaf; it soon became St. Ann's Ch. for Deaf-Mutes, inc. 1854. Edward Miner Gallaudet (1837–1917), another son of T. H. Gallaudet, was a noted teacher of deaf-mutes in the Am. Asylum, Hartford, Connecticut, and head of a school for deafmutes, Washington, D. C.; part of the latter school became Gallaudet Coll. 1894. Henry Winter Syle, a deaf man, was ordained to the Episc. priesthood 1883.

7. The Southern Bap. Conv. does extensive work among deaf in the South. The Meth. Ch., Ch. of Christ, Assemblies of God, and other Prot. chs. are active in deaf work.

8. The Christian Deaf Fellowship is an interdenom. organization that began work in Akron, Ohio, in the early 1940s and is spreading to other parts of the US and Can. The United Ch. of Can. has missions in Ont. and a large ch. in Toronto.

9. The Desoms (Deaf Sons of Masons) were organized in the 1940s.

10. In 1873 an assoc. of Mo. Syn. congs. founded an institute for deaf-mutes in connection with an orphanage in Royal Oak, Michigan; its 1st dir. and teacher was G. P. Speckhard.* New property for the Royal Oak inst. was acquired 1874 at Norris, Michigan, near Detroit. At the instigation of Edward J. Pahl (d. November 4, 1945), a grad. of the Detroit school, adult work among deaf was begun. Among Mo. Syn. pioneers in work among deaf were Hermann Daniel Uhlig (November 8, 1847–August 15, 1913; dir. of the Detroit inst. 1879–1900) and E. A. Duemling.* A. Reinke* conducted the 1st Mo. Syn. service for deaf March 4, 1894; within a few months he conducted services for deaf in Fort Wayne and Elkhart, Indiana; he requested the Mo. Syn. at its 1896 conv. to undertake miss. work among deaf and a syn. commission for deaf was est.; he also urged students at the St. Louis sem. to study sign language under tutelage of a Mrs. Jacobi. Two students, Hermann Adam Bentrup (November 24, 1872–October 29, 1948) and Traugott Martin Wangerin (October 21, 1873–September 9, 1951), were sent out in the 1st yr. By 1897 three missionaries were conducting services in 14 cities; total average attendance: 300.

11. In 1965 the LCMS had nearly 60 workers among deaf. Deaf were served in over 200 cities and numbered over 5,000 communicant mems. Pastors also minister to deaf in state hospitals and other govt. institutions. Training programs are conducted at Conc. Sem., St. Louis, Missouri; Conc. Sem., Fort Wayne, Indiana; and several prep. schools. The work is supervised by the Bd. for Miss.

12. For. work among deaf by the LCMS was begun 1964 in the Far East under the direction of William Reinking as resident counselor in Hong Kong. Contacts for work among deaf have been made in Australia, Brazil, Nigeria, New Guinea, and elsewhere.

13. The Luth. Friends of the Deaf est. the Luth. School for the Deaf, Mill Neck, New York, 1951; it publishes educ. materials (e.g., the John of Beverley Series of religious workbooks).

14. The Ephphatha mission of The ALC centers its work in the midwestern states among Scand. people. This miss. began 1898 when the United Norw. Luth. Ch. in Am. first considered expanding its home miss. work to include deaf and blind. Gilbert H. Bakken became its 1st part-time and H. O. Bjorlie the 1st full-time pastor to deaf.

15. Beginnings of work among deaf by the LCA date back to the early part of the 20th c. in E Pennsylvania and centered in Philadelphia, where students from the sem. conducted classes and services for children in the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Mount Airy, Pennsylvania


K. W. Hodgson, The Deaf and Their Problems (New York, 1954); H. Best, Deafness and the Deal in the United States (New York, 1943).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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