Woodlawn United Methodist Church in Panama City hosted a Deaf Prayer Service for members of the local Deaf Community impacted by Hurricane Michael on November 24, 2018.
Reverend Mark Ehrlichmann, pastor of Center Ridge United Methodist Church in DeFuniak Springs, FL, led the prayer service and through his agency – Agency for Deaf Advocacy and Services, ADAS – provided donations of clothes and other items. ADAS also donated two visual alert systems.
Rev. Ehrlichmann is one of the few trained pastors serving the Deaf Community and has been in Deaf Ministry since 1998 as a lay leader and graduated from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC, in 2007 with a Master of Divinity. He was ordained in 2008 in Garfield, Minnesota.
Rev. Ehrlichmann continued working in Prison Ministry focusing on Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals upon ordination and receiving a call to serve as Missionary at large from Christ Lutheran in Belmont, MA, as the only Deaf Missionary/Pastor in Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ. He served in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area since 2007 and recently moved to the Florida Panhandle area in 2016. He worked to establish a ministry presence and developed a Deaf Advocacy Service and began serving Center Ridge United Methodist Church in DeFuniak Springs, FL in July 2018.
Deaf Ministry is his focus, but he serves all. What is unique and challenging about Deaf Ministry is that the Deaf Community is statistically the highest unchurched population group at 98%.* There are no accurate statistics for how many Deaf and Hard of Hearing people live in the Panhandle area. Most however, live in large metro areas. Yet, in his advocacy and ministry experience in the past two years, has travelled extensively throughout the Panhandle area due to contact from Deaf themselves or family and friends looking for help in communication and employment discrimination issues, job searches, direct spiritual care, and prison/jail ministry. Deaf people face insurmountable access issues in every part of social life, including the church. Even Rev. Ehrlichmann experiences challenges in accessing resources available to all pastors. Churches do not have an understanding of providing and using a Sign Language interpreter services because they do not have an understanding of the impact of hearing loss on communication.
Rev. Ehrlichmann provides consulting services and speaking engagements to increase understanding of how hearing loss impacts a person’s life and function in an audio-centered world. Please contact Rev. Ehrlichmann to learn more about how God desires all of us to be Ephphatha to His efforts to have a relationship with all of us, including those with diverse needs. For the Body of Christ is made up of all various parts for various reasons that through this Ephphatha learning we will gain a deeper connection to The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit, and to each other.
*https://www.deafbiblesociety.com/ Around the globe, only 2 percent of Deaf people have been introduced to the gospel. There are not enough Christians among the Deaf to establish and grow their own churches.