Diocese of London Deaf Church bids farewell to old friends and heralds new era
London’s Deaf Chaplaincy has held an uplifting service to mark the 90th anniversary of its use of the Church of St Saviour’s as well as to bid farewell to the Diocese of London’s outgoing Deaf Chaplain, the Revd Anne Richardson, who has served the Deaf community in London for almost a decade.
Communion at the service was led by the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, with the sermon given by Anne and signing choir led by the Revd Vera Hunt, M.B.E – a retired Deaf priest and stalwart of the capital’s Deaf Christian community.
The venue, St Saviour’s, is a purpose-built church for the Deaf, owned by the Royal Association of Deaf People (RAD). Sadly, it is one of a number of buildings being sold by the RAD. Acton’s local Deaf church group will therefore begin to meet in a new venue from the New Year. A poignant addition to the service was the attendance of the great-granddaughter of the sculptor Joseph Gawen, who created the statue of the Good Shepherd for the first St Saviour’s in Oxford Street, one of the many important pieces by Deaf artists to be housed in the building.
As well as marking the place that St Saviour’s has held in the life of the London Deaf community, the service was also an opportunity to mark the contribution of Anne Richardson.
Anne, who is hearing, a qualified interpreter and an ordained Methodist Minister since 1996, has been the Diocese of London’s Deaf chaplain since 2005. During her tenure, the provision for Deaf Christians in London has strengthened exponentially, growing to five regular Deaf church groups each with increased regular attendance. A particular achievement of Anne’s has been her cross-denominational work and her success in building links with other Deaf church leaders in the capital. One example is the much loved annual BSL carol service held at the Church of the Annunciation, Marble Arch.
The Revd Anne Richardson, outgoing Deaf Chaplain in the Diocese of London, commented:
"It has been a joy and privilege to serve the Deaf community for the past nine years. My last official act was to celebrate 90 years of the Deaf Church and club at St Saviour’s – a really special occasion, with over 100 members and friends gathered together. It feels like the perfect time to hand on the baton to Rev Catherine. I’m sure she will love being part of the Deaf Community in London, as much as I have, and that the Church will thrive under her leadership."
Although the departure of Anne and end of the use of St Saviour’s is a poignant moment, the Deaf Chaplaincy in London is going from strength to strength, with the Revd Catherine Carlyon due to be licensed as the Diocese of London’s new Deaf Chaplain in December.
Catherine will be coming to London having been Chaplain among Deaf People in the Diocese of Exeter since 2006 as well as a parish priest of a hearing church near Exeter. Catherine made an early debut in London by joining the service to sign the Bible story and prayers. Following her licensing at the BSL Carol Service in December, she will lead a final Christmas service at St Saviour’s, followed by a Christmas dinner.