ak Hill UMC provides interpreters at the 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. worship services each week.

The presence of a deaf visitor named Caroline Koo in 2012 prompted church leaders to explore the need for deaf services within the United Methodist Church. What they found is that there are currently no United Methodist churches in Austin offering such services. The church felt compelled to support efforts to reach this part of our community by hiring interpreters, one being Jennifer Bryce. Jennifer is an advanced certified interpreter and teacher of the deaf. She explains, “Because OHUMC strives to serve all of God’s children and wants to open its doors to everyone, they have worked hard to find a team of qualified interpreters.”

As a result of this effort, Caroline has become a member of OHUMC. “I am so proud of OHUMC and feel blessed to be part of their community,” Caroline says, “Oak Hill United Methodist Church is a testimony to the United Methodist Church’s Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors. Not only do I have equal access to sermons and Sunday School, but also I enjoy learning and growing under UMC’s guidance. I am now able to appreciate being a fourth-generation UMC member as a direct descendant of Bishop Kaung with relatives who are very active in UMC worldwide.”

1383588_856669567701205_1476608130229112390_nFollowing the guidance of Caroline and Jennifer, OHUMC has embraced this ministry for the deaf. The church is using advanced certified interpreters to make their 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. worship services accessible for deaf visitors and members. In addition, interpreters are also available for Sunday School and special events upon request. “We are delighted to begin this new relationship with Austin’s deaf community,” Pastor Jim Roberts said. “Our church has a long tradition of warmth, openness, and fun blended with vital ministry and mission. We are honored and blessed to welcome our deaf friends to Oak Hill UMC.”

For more information, please contact Caroline Koo, Deaf Ministries chair.

The photo is from the 2014 Jurisdictional Deaf Ministry Conference, which Oak Hill UMC hosted.