The Revd Susan Myatt was commissioned as the new Deaf Chaplain for the Diocese of Lichfield at a special service in Penkridge.
Susan's appointment has come about in a unique partnership between the Church of England and the Baptist Association in the Midlands in a move to encourage deaf people to play a leading role in local worship.
Deaf Church brings deaf and hearing Christians together through services that use British Sign Language (BSL) as the main means of communicating.
It has spread to various congregations across the Diocese of Lichfield an area with a population of over two million which includes Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, the Black Country and most of Shropshire in recent years.
Baptist Minister Susan was commissioned by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Right Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, (both front row centre above) as Diocesan Advisor to the Deaf Church at the service at St Michael and All Angels in Penkridge.
She will lead and coordinate monthly Deaf Church services at St Michael and All Angels and oversee pastoral care for deaf people across the Diocese.
Susan, who was born profoundly deaf, has established a Deaf Caf at Rising Brook Baptist Church in Stafford where she is a minister. She works with Baptist churches nationally on deaf issues and is a trustee of Deaf Anglicans Together.
Colin Townsend, who uses sign language at St Matthews in Walsall and was at the commissioning service, said: "It's truly wonderful to have a deaf person overseeing this ministry - at last! I cannot over emphasise just how much it means to the deaf community to finally have BSL first and not have to rely on an interpreter to access services, Bible studies and so on. It's so empowering."
Susan said: I love to find unity across the whole church and it is important to me that both deaf and hearing Christians are able to worship, pray and enjoy their faith together, using British Sign language as our main language.
I am passionate that deaf people are empowered and encouraged to worship God in their own language and to explore their faith using creative and visual ways in prayer, bible study, drama and crafts.I also feel called to help the hearing Christian community join in with this so that deaf and hearing together can express their faith and worship. I hope that all this will lead us to a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Susan will work alongside local Anglican priests who use BSL and will support her with the celebration of the eucharist. She carries on the crucial work of previous chaplain the Revd Dr Leonie Wheeler who established and developed Deaf Church in the diocese, aided by Dr Gill Meller.
Find out more by emailing Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org