The Diocese of London has hosted the first ever service given entirely in British sign language at St Paul’s Cathedral.
The service took place at 11.15am on Sunday, September 25, led by Baptist minister Sue Whalley, who is deaf herself.
There was an interpreter present for hearing members of the congregation.
St Paul’s has included BSL interpreted services for many years, but this was the first time a sermon is given entirely in sign language, with a spoken word interpretation.
In the UK, approximately 151,000 people use BSL, and of these 87,000 are Deaf. In April this year, the BSL Act was passed, recognising BSL as an official language of England, Scotland and Wales.
John Beauchamp, the Diocese of London’s Disability Ministry Enabler, said: “Sue’s sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral will be a significant moment for the Church in London and nationally, bringing attention to BSL and the Deaf community. This sermon reflects the direction in which the Diocese of London is heading, as we continue to find different ways for all people to engage and participate in all our services.”
This historic talk follows the International Day of Sign Languages, marked across the world as countries unite in raising awareness of sign language, the form of communication used by the majority of the 72 million Deaf people around the world.
Minister Sue Whalley said it was an an honour to give a sermon at St Paul’s and use sign language to share my reflections and thoughts on God.
“ I hope that this type of sermon is the first of many to come. As coordinator for London Deaf Churches, I have seen how important Christianity and faith in Jesus Christ is to the many churchgoers from the deaf community.
“The church is a place for people from all different backgrounds and communities, and it is therefore essential that we are able to connect with all groups of people, including the segment of the population who are Deaf.”
(Picture Courtesy: Getty Images)