Live Lutheran worship services for the deaf are offered each week on www.DeafJesus.org, a Web site that uses RealVideo streaming media technology to offer video programs over the Internet.
The Web site was started last year by two LCMS pastors who serve deaf worshipers in Wisconsin — Rev. John Reinke of Our Savior Lutheran Church, Madison, and Rev. William Palmer of Emmanuel Deaf Lutheran Church, West Allis.
Each Sunday, at 9:45 a.m. Central Time, the Web site features a live LCMS worship service, conducted in sign language, from one of those two churches.
Previously broadcast deaf worship services also are available for viewing, and the site also offers a number of “signed” devotions, Bible stories and religious vocabulary words in QuickTime movie format.
Reinke says the Web site was started as a way to bring worship to deaf Lutherans in Wisconsin. In addition to their congregations, he and Palmer also take turns leading worship for deaf Lutherans at 10 other sites. Depending on their schedules, the pastors try to make it to each site monthly or every few months.
“We wanted to serve these people more often than that,” Reinke said. With the Web site, deaf Lutherans can view, in sign language, daily devotions and live weekly worship services, he said, giving them a regular connection to God’s Word.
The site is accessible to anyone with Internet access, and who has installed the RealOne player and QuickTime plug-in that are available free on the www.DeafJesus.org Web site.
Now that the site is up and running, Reinke is turning his attention to outreach. He and Palmer are working with the Synod’s Deaf Ministry Task Force and deaf Lutherans to create two more Web sites that would be designed to attract deaf people “who do not believe in Jesus.”
“We have so many deaf people who do not go to church — the number is 95 percent and above,” Reinke said, and he believes Web sites would be an ideal way to reach them.
“Deaf people have computers, they have the Internet and we can reach out to them in a way they can understand,” he said.
He said he is hoping at least one of the Web sites will be operational by 2005, and he is seeking volunteers with Web-site experience to help design the sites. If you’re interested, or if you have questions about www.DeafJesus.org, contact Reinke via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted June 17, 2004