Jehovah’s Witnesses reaches out to deaf congregants
Jehovah’s Witnesses eventin Richmond is presented entirely in sign language
The theme of this weekend’s convention series held by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Richmond is “God’s Word Is Truth!”
On Friday at an opening event at the Assembly Hall on Midlothian Turnpike in Richmond, the audience of 1,600 did not hear any words. And on the podium, no words were spoken.
Aimed at deaf believers, the event was presented entirely in American Sign Language. For the delegates attending the convention, this was a pilot project.
“This is the first time we are trying this,” said George Perez, news service coordinator with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. “We do not have any interpreters on the podium.”
The gathering drew people from six states and Washington. It is part of a larger meeting taking place this weekend at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.
Presenters, all fluent in sign language, were projected onto large screens throughout the Assembly Hall. There were even two recorded, dramatic sign-language plays that brought Bible lessons to life.
“Our program examines why we can trust God’s Word, the Bible and how it can benefit you and your family,” Perez said.
Among the hundreds of deaf attendees were 12 delegates who were deaf and blind. “These people have interpreters who sign in their hands,” said Donovan Greer, an assistant news coordinator.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses are hosting 10 such conventions nationwide this year, including the one in Richmond. “We’ve had a rapidly growing membership among deaf people because of a growing interest in the Bible,” Greer said.
Among the delegates traveling from out of state were Brandon Petty and his wife, Tasha, who is deaf. The couple came to Richmond from Raleigh, N.C.
“We were willing to travel for more than three hours because this is a very thrilling experience,” Tasha Petty said, with her husband translating. “There are no interpreters here because we all understand each other. It is a great way to make new friends, and it is a very special day for me.”
The convention for the deaf and deaf-blind continues today and lasts through Sunday, running from 9:30 a.m. until late afternoon at the Assembly Hall at 5607 Midlothian Turnpike. The event is free to the public.