Billy and Mary Ann Deters, a couple from St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Titusville, became the first deaf persons from the Florida Conference to complete the UMC Advanced Certified Lay Servant training.
The couple completed the basic CLS class last year. With encouragement from their pastor, Rev. Mark Charles, the Deters enrolled in the advanced training in April and believe that the skills they gained will enhance their ministry in the church and community.
They oversee their church’s deaf ministry. They also are active in the Global Ministries Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries.
"I'm so glad for the opportunity to complete the advanced training. I feel more empowered to help others and to better connect the church with other deaf people in my community," Billy Deters said.
His wife added, "We are glad to have completed the training. They were helpful by providing us with interpreters. We love serving the church, and this training gives us more skills for serving."
The Deters also expressed gratitude to their faith community for its support.
Lay servant classes are often offered by districts and annual conferences.
They prepare people for such things as leading Sunday school classes and worship, outreach ministries and congregational care.
The Deters intend to continue serving in deaf ministry, assisting in worship, and teaching sign language classes. They are working with their pastor to see how else they can serve.
They can serve their faith communities through their gifts of language, culture or by their presence. They have spiritual gifts for serving the body of Christ.
They are hopeful others will follow their example.
"I want to see more deaf people take the training,” Billy Deters said. “Pastors need to ask them."
Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. is a consultant, Global Ministries United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries; chairperson, Baltimore Washington Conference Commission on Disability Concerns, and associate pastor, Magothy United Methodist Church of the Deaf.