Moscow, October 3, 2015
On October 4, 2015, a new social and missionary center for work with deaf and hearing-impaired people was opened at the Church of All Saints of Russia in the Novokosino district of eastern Moscow, reports Patriarchia.ru. A Divine Liturgy with sign language interpretation was celebrated at the church in Novokosino on that day. The service was headed by Bishop Panteleimon (Shatov) of Orekhovo-Zuyevo, chairman of the Synodal Department for the Church Charity and Social Ministry. From that day on every Saturday Divine Liturgies at this church will be accompanied with sign language interpretation.
After the Liturgy a prayer service was performed before the icon, “Healing of the Deaf”, painted by the “Spas” (Savior) Orthodox deaf community in Nizhny Novgorod, in honor of the center’s opening.
The new center intends to carry out an extensive social and missionary work with deaf and hearing-impaired people. For this purpose two church workers are currently learning the dactyl alphabet and sign language. In the near future, a sign language school is to be opened at this church for volunteers.
“There are thousands of people around us who do now know God,” comments the church rector, staff member of the Synodal Department for Charity and Social Ministry Archpriest Michael Zazvonov. “The faithful must exert every effort so that all who desire might be able to enter the Church consciously and to know the joy of being with God. If people with disabilities cannot reach a pastor due to objective reasons and if his sermons are inaccessible to them, then the pastor himself must reach these people. And here we must spare neither strength nor resources.”
The organizers of the new center are the Coordination Center for Work with Deaf and Hearing-impaired People of the Synodal Department for Charity and Social Ministry along with the Church of All the Saints of Russia in Novokosino.
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There are around 360 million deaf and hearing-impaired people throughout the world, 13 million of whom live in the Russian Federation. One of the chief issues of deaf people is lack of sign language interpreters. Only about 900 sign language interpreters work in Russia at the moment, and approximately 100,000 deaf people are the share of each interpreter. 49 parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church on the territory of Russia work with the deaf. 13 priests and 5 deacons know the Russian sign language.
Earlier, on September 26, 2015, right before the International Deaf Day (established in 1951; celebrated for the last full week of September, especially on last Sunday of September), a Divine Liturgy with sign language interpretation was celebrated in Moscow for deaf, deaf-blind and hearing-impaired people. Over 50 people from 9 Orthodox communities of Moscow, the Moscow region, Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh, Kirov and Yoshkar-Ola came for the service. The Liturgy was headed by chairman of the Coordination Center for Work with the Deaf, Deaf-blind and Hard-of-hearing of the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Ministry Bishop Panteleimon of Orekhovo-Zuyevo.