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MINISTERING TO THE DEAF

BY KAITLIN HOLLEY

Though COVID-19 has put a stop to church services, Andalusia local Pennye Anderson still takes the time to work and teach others about the First Baptist Church’s deaf ministry.

“I have taught many classes and have been ministering to the deaf community for 23 years and it has been a blessing to me,” Anderson said. “Linda and Roy Weaver were attending First Baptist Church. They were seriously contemplating and praying about the ministry where they wanted to serve. Linda had previously signed several years prior to moving to Andalusia, Alabama.  She spoke with then pastor, John Foster. As Linda Researched deaf ministries, she learned there was no church of any domination in all of Covington County who had services interpreted for the deaf.  That was 35 years ago, and the deaf ministry is alive and well, still in Andalusia First Baptist Church.”

Through the years, Anderson said the deaf community in Covington County got closer to the church because they could speak their language.

“It has been said the deaf cannot enter the world of hearing, but the hearing can enter their world,” Anderson said. “When people do just that, it is a blessing that requires a time commitment. One has to learn a new language; one must learn how to sign to the deaf, and how to read their signs during the conversation.  Sunday School classes have been provided for the deaf all during these thirty-five years.

Several Andalusia locals formed the first-ever sign language classes.

“Linda Weaver started teaching sign language classes,” Anderson said. “John Foster’s wife Betty loved the deaf and was a faithful student. Connie Seale, Brenda Mooney, and I are among the original interpreters. Jennifer Dansby currently signs sermons and music. In the past, Mary Hill, John Twitty, Kathy Jones, Charlotte Taylor and Suzanne Fairley, have interpreted for the deaf and serve the ministry, as well. Mary Hill, who, at age ninety, is still interested in the deaf community. Joe Vick was very helpful to deaf patients at Andalusia Hospital.”

In 2019, the First Baptist Church’s services became available on live stream, and can be seen via Facebook and the local cable channel. First Baptist also keeps an up to date website. That makes three ways for FBC to reach out to the deaf community.  When the pandemic settles down, there will be once again live interpreters for music and sermons. You can watch for on Facebook for about three days and on the website www.facebook.com/andalusia First Baptist and choose the like button. The church also has a website fbcandalusia.org where you can see music and sermons for a week.

For anyone who wants to worship God through music, sermons, and prayers, follow FBCAndalusia @fbcandalusia on Facebook and get updates on all of the live sermons and classes that they offer. The church website is fbcandalusia.org.