Alabama Baptist Conference for the Deaf (ABCD) took place at Coosada Baptist Church (Elmore Baptist Association) on March 8-10, 2019.
The event, attended by approximately 150 adults and youth, allowed the Deaf in Alabama to spend a weekend in fellowship and community, while also growing in their personal walks with Christ. The weekend focused on being the branches connected to the vine, as mentioned in John 15:5.
State Missionary Kristy Kennedy said ABCD was open for both the Deaf and those interested in Deaf ministry. She said the event has been “basically a family reunion” for her since she began attending eight years ago.
The weekend conference highlighted the need for Deaf ministry across Alabama, which is home to more than 50,000 Deaf people.
The Alabama Baptist State Convention has only three affiliated churches that were planted to specifically reach Deaf people. In addition, 20 other churches have ministries for the Deaf. In an average week, 200 Deaf persons attend one of these churches each week.
Kennedy said the need for mentoring and discipleship in the Deaf community is strong, and she is always looking for hearing people who have a desire to reach the Deaf with the Gospel.
One such person is Faryn Fryer. Fryer, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, was a first-time attendee at ABCD. She first became familiar with sign language in high school when her home church (First Baptist Church of Columbiana), needed interpreters for the Deaf who had recently begun attending.
Since then, Fryer has signed worship services, prayers, baptisms, and a few sermons. She said she attended ABCD to connect with the Deaf community and see friends she worked with at Deafquake, the State Board of Missions’ Deaf camp for children and youth.
“I enjoyed ABCD because it allowed me to learn about the goals of Deaf baptists in Alabama,” Fryer said. “It gave me the opportunity, as a hearing person, to learn how to be a better ally and support them.”
According to Kennedy, the Deaf remain one of the most unreached people groups in the United States because they are hard to find in society. She said events like ABCD and Deaf ministries throughout the state give these individuals the opportunity to know the Gospel, find community and be discipled.
“In my experience, I have found that Deaf people are receptive of the Gospel,” she said. “We just need more hearing people to learn sign language and reach out to share with their Deaf neighbors.”