Sermon in British Sign Language to be preached at St Paul's

News article
22nd September 2022

Sermon in British Sign Language to be preached at St Paul's

On Sunday 25th September at 11.15am, Baptist Minister Sue Whalley will preach a sermon in British Sign Language (BSL) for the first time at St Paul's.

We have included BSL interpreted services for many years, but this will be the first time a sermon is given entirely in sign language, with a spoken word interpretation. This historic preachment follows the International Day of Sign Languages on Friday 23rd September, marked across the world today as countries unite in raising awareness of sign language, the form of communication used by the majority of the 72 million Deaf people around the world.

The BSL Act was passed in April 2022 following years of campaigning, and recognises BSL as an official language of England, Scotland and Wales, and brings renewed focus on BSL and the Deaf community.

Sue Whalley will preach at the service with interpretation for the hearing members of the congregation. Sue began working with the London Deaf churches while on placement as part of her training for Baptist ministry. She stepped very ably into a leadership and co-ordination role when the then chaplain to Deaf and deafblind people moved and has covered this role with the help of the other Deaf church leaders for the past 2 years.

worshippers eucharist sunday services congregation

Commenting on her sermon, Sue Whalley, said:

"It will be an honour to give a sermon at St Paul’s and use sign language to share my reflections and thoughts on God. As coordinator for London Deaf Churches, I have seen how important Christianity and faith in Jesus Christ is to the many churchgoers from the deaf community.

“British Sign language is the fourth most used language in the UK, with over 125,000 adults using it to communicate. The church is a place for people from all different backgrounds and communities, and it is therefore essential that we are able to connect with all groups of people, including the segment of the population who are Deaf. I hope that this type of sermon is the first of many to come!”

John Beauchamp, the Diocesan Disability Ministry Enabler, added:

“Sue’s sermon at St Paul’s Cathedral will be a significant moment for the church in London and nationally, bringing attention to British Sign Language and the Deaf community.

Sue has just completed her training in ministry and has been fantastic at leading the London Deaf churches, always helping and engaging with members of the Deaf community with impressive dedication and being part of the diocese’s drive for greater inclusion, belonging and participation for disabled people.

“This sermon reflects the direction in which the Diocese of London is heading, as we continue to find different ways for all people to engage and participate in all our services.”