Five Christian denominations will unite this weekend to broadcast a special online ecumenical carol service led in British Sign Language.
Led by Deaf Christians, the service will revolve around the theme of The Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, with translators interpreting into spoken English.
Mary-Jayne, a member of Deaf Christians who will lead the carol service, told Premier this represents an opportunity for many in the community to “fully grasp the meaning of the words of the songs”.
“I would say that there's roughly about ten per cent of the UK deaf community who are able to worship at church in a deaf-led environment. So, to have the opportunity for the carol service to be streamed online means that it opens it up to so many more deaf people to be able to experience God,” she said.
This marks the first time the Deaf community has taken centre stage in a carol service across five major denominations in the UK. For Mary-Jane, this is not about giving her community “access” but rather the opposite.
“This is an opportunity for the hearing world to have an insight into the deaf world and the deaf church and our values and our community. And that's beautiful,” she continued.
The participating denominations include the Church of England, The Church of Scotland, the Church of Wales, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, and The Baptist Union of Great Britain.
The service was recorded in a location in Derbyshire over several days involving a diverse team of over 20 people, including both deaf and hearing crew members, access interpreters, and cast members.
Speaking to Premier, Tom Pearson, spokesperson for ChristianBSL.com, the organisation collaborating with the denominations, emphasised the service as a significant step towards inclusion.
“We can all think of deaf contestants in game shows and on various other television programs what we haven't seen is something quite this significant within the Christian world. The bringing together of five denominations, all showing that they support this level of inclusion, all saying online, on their social media, in their press releases, and to their congregations, that this is important that this inclusion is important is truly significant.”
The Christian BSL Carol Service will feature brand new audio recordings of beloved Christmas carols, performed by David Luke, John Wilson, and Chris Orton-Gibb.
The service will be broadcast simultaneously on all denominations' social media platforms on Sunday at 9 am.