Mission & Service has been supporting the Deaf ministry in Newfoundland and Labrador for 33 years.
In 1987, the School for the Deaf in St. John’s wrote a letter to the local presbytery requesting pastoral care on behalf of the United Church. Beverley Ares, a lay delegate, was asked to consider the role. She was interested but concerned that she didn’t know sign language. Nonetheless, she answered the call, first as a volunteer and then as an employee. Beverley began learning American Sign Language and also took courses in theology. She was a quick study. Over the next 23 years she served the students and their families as an interpreter at worship services at First United Church in Mount Pearl, as a faith formation leader at the school, as an advocate for the Deaf community, and as a pastoral care provider and friend.
But by 2010, enrollment was greatly declining and the provincial government decided to close the school. Thanks to the vision and commitment of a local ecumenical committee, the Deaf ministry continued. Today, Beverley and others continue to provide community, worship leadership, and pastoral care to the Deaf community in and around St. John’s. Thanks to the support of local churches and Mission & Service, individuals like Beverley have made a real difference in the lives of many Deaf children and adults and their families.
Nancy Emberly, a former student, says, “While I attended church regularly as a child, I didn’t understand who God was until I met Beverley.” Nancy is now a teacher and has replaced Beverley as the coordinator of Deaf ministry in Newfoundland.
If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much! If you have not given, please join in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith. Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.