News by email Donate

Suggestions

Top Stories

Most Read

Popular Videos

REV HANNAH LEWIS BANNER.jpg
REV HANNAH LEWIS.jpg
World News

Churches need to learn from Strictly Come Dancing, says chaplain to the Deaf Community

by Glyn Jones

BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing has important lessons for UK churches, according to Rev Dr Hannah Lewis.

Rev Dr Lewis has recently been appointed as chaplain to the Deaf Community in the Diocese of Oxford.

One of the contestants scoring high marks in the dance competition this year is EastEnders actor Rose Ayling-Ellis. Like Dr Lewis, Rose is deaf and both women are bilingual in English and British Sign Language.   

Rev Dr Lewis believes the primetime TV exposure will help churches, and society in general, recognise that the potential of deaf people is often underestimated.

“I think the church can learn that deaf people have a lot of capabilities. (Deaf people) are called to be leaders. We’re called to mission. We’re called to preach. We’re called to do all sorts of things in the church. But it’s often frustrated by lack of access.”

The chaplain to Oxford’s Deaf Community also welcomes the fact that Rose Ayling-Ellis is using sign language on the show and is working with British Sign Language interpreters. 

Rev Dr Lewis told Premier: “It’s been really affirming to have one of us up there. We can be a very hidden, a very invisible community.”

“I really think that what Rose is showing is that with proper access you can do things - we can do things. And I really think the church needs to wake up a little bit to all these wasted gifts in their midst. And I sometimes wonder if God gets as frustrated as we do. He’s given us all these gifts, all these capabilities. But we aren’t always able to take them forward.”
-------------------------------
Rev Dr Lewis suggested that a full transcript would help people from the Deaf Community access the interview. That seemed like a great suggestion.

Premier: What was your personal reaction when you first heard there was going to be a hearing-impaired contestant on Strictly this year?
Rev Dr Lewis: I was really, really excited because having a deaf person on primetime Saturday night TV in a programme that everybody talks about is just going to be amazing. And also the fact that she’s just taking part – she’s not focussing on her deafness.

Premier: And before this series of Strictly Come Dancing started were you aware of Rose Ayling-Ellis as an actress from the soap operas?
Rev Dr Lewis: I don’t watch soap operas (laughs) and so I’ve never seen her. I was vaguely aware through the grapevine that we had an actress in a soap opera. But that was it really.

Premier: The show’s on again tonight. Each week she does really well and gets very high scores. Do you sit on the edge of your seat, looking forward to it?
Rev Dr Lewis: I really am looking forward to tonight. I’m just wondering what she’s going to do next. I love the way that she and Giovanni have been pushing the boundaries – trying different things in the dance - using sign language. The silence last week. It’s really been amazing. There’s just so much more going on than just entertainment, I think.

Premier: And what’s been the reaction among the deaf community?
Rev Dr Lewis: By and large very excited. It’s been really affirming to have one of us up there (laughter) we can be a very hidden community, a very invisible community. We sometimes feel (pause) frustrated. But I also think it’s really important for the deaf community that they showed Rose using a sign language interpreter to access. They’ve shown Rose talking about the joy of being deaf.

She’s not just a positive role model because she’s doing it – she’s positive about who she is and confident in her identity. That’s who we are. We know we’re like that but so often the hearing world doesn’t see it. So having someone show that is brilliant

Premier: Do you think that the churches could learn something from this? From the impact, Rose is having on Strictly?
Rev Dr Lewis: Absolutely, I think the church can learn that deaf people have a lot of capabilities. We’re called to be leaders. We’re called to mission. We’re called to preach. We’re called to do all sorts of things in the church. But it’s often frustrated by lack of access. And I really think that what Rose is showing is that with proper access you can do things - we can do things. And I really think the church needs to wake up a little bit to all these wasted gifts in their midst. And (pause) I sometimes wonder if God gets as frustrated as we do. He’s given us all these gifts, all these capabilities. But we aren’t always able to take them forward.
 

Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email

Connect

Donate

Donate