Farnborough Church for the Deaf
The Church was founded in January 1980.
Our Register of services for Farnborough/Aldershot Church for Deaf People started on 1st January 1980. There were services before this date and deaf people regularly attended Holy Trinity Church in Aldershot, these were organised by Revd Percy Corfmat, RADD Chaplain in Surrey but were stopped in 1963 after which the nearest services would be in Guildford.
Mike Sabell was a social worker for Hampshire in 1979 and had approached Clive Davis to help start services in Farnborough. Mike himself being hard of hearing was based in Winchester and through Boyd and Kathleen Burgess and their deaf daughter Christine started a church service for deaf people at St Peter’s Church, Farnborough.
In 1996 the Deaf Church moved to the Church of the Good Shepherd as the Parish centre at St Peter’s was being rebuilt. The Church of the Good Shepherd proved to be very suitable for the deaf people and we have remained there ever since. In July 2012 the PCC formally welcomed the Church for Deaf People into the North Farnborough Team under the Church of the Good Shepherd.
Having hearing people attending means that our church has included music where in the past most deaf churches would have hymns signed but not to music. Our first pianist was George May followed by the lovely Marian Kelk. We have enjoyed the band from St Peter’s, led by David Barnes, join us at special services such as the Christingle. Music has been and continues to be part of our services and we appreciate all those that offer to support us in this way.
As Farnborough is in Hampshire but the church is part of the Diocese of Guildford this meant that after Mike Sabell moved in 1982 we had two chaplains, Revd John Studd and the Revd Harold Webb. At this time church members helped Harold make videos for the deaf people in sign language about Holy Communion, Christenings and getting married.
Following on from John and Harold moving away from the area the Revd John Whittle became our chaplain, he worked for the Guildford Diocese. After John left we had our very first lady chaplain, Sister Susan Bloomfield who served our congregation until she moved to Nottingham in 2011.
Back in 1980 there were 26 deaf and hearing people at our first service and that number has remained much the same throughout the years. The Christingle services do attract more people as we celebrate and reflect on the meaning of Christmas when making the Christingle.
We are an integrated church of deaf and hearing people throughout the years and continue that way up to the present time. Deaf people attending are not only from Farnborough and Aldershot but many come from surrounding areas such as Farnham, Guildford and Basingstoke and sometimes we even have a people travelling from Eastleigh and Aylesbury.
Although we no longer have a Chaplain for the Deaf, since Susan left in 2011, we have continued to hold services once a month as arranged through the committee. We always aim to have Deaf speakers and we have been very blessed by the strong support from Revd Rachel Bennetts, however she left in 2017 for a new and exciting assignment, but the clergy at the Good Shepherd continue to offer their support and oversight. As we have both hearing and Deaf speakers and service leaders it is important to grow with the changing needs of those attending our services. We strive to continue in the way our history started and by using the loop system, providing voice-over, BSL interpreting and making use of the overhead projector we hope to make the word of God accessible to all that come. Over the recent years we have also started to provide lip speaking for those that require it.
Our services are always followed with time for tea and sandwiches/cakes and this would not be possible if it were not for the large team of helpers and cake bakers; a remarkable service which is always appreciated by those coming to the services.
We have financially supported a number of places such as Park Barn Deaf unit in Guildford now known as the Lighthouse, Grove School. We have also supported schools for deaf children in Africa and the Third World through donations to the Doreen Woodford Foundation. We annually donate to the work of BSL Daily Devotions and BSL Bible Translation Project.
We are very proud of our church family and the willingness of people to obey God’s calling. A number of visiting speakers regularly make the journey to Farnborough and we thank them for their service. Over the years four of our congregation have become Communion Assistants and Catherine Farmbrough became the first Deaf Pastoral Care Assistant in our Diocese.
So whether you are local or not, Deaf or hearing we look forward to being to welcome you at one of our services which are held on the 3rd Sunday of the month at 4pm apart from August when we join together with the morning congregation and December when the Christingle/Christmas Service is held on the second Sunday in December.
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You can also access daily devotions in BSL at http://bsldailydevotions.co.uk/
Find out about other churches and Christian events for Deaf People at http://www.gosign.org.uk/