Deaf Ministry in the LCANZ has entered a new era, with Julian Mazzeo ordained as a Specific Ministry Pastor of the Adelaide Deaf Community Church (ADCC) earlier this month.
Pastor Julian was ordained by LCANZ Bishop Paul Smith on 8 October and installed the same day to his role by South Australia – Northern Territory District Bishop Andrew Brook. Pastor Julian’s ordination service was held at Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Magill, the church where the ADCC is based.
Magill has both Deaf and hearing congregations who worship at different times, with Pastor Michael Prenzler ministering to both in a shared role since 2017. A hearing pastor with no prior experience of deafness, Pastor Michael spent several years learning Auslan before taking the call to serve at Magill. Now that Pastor Julian has been ordained, he will take over the lead ministry role for the Deaf congregation, with Pastor Michael’s support.
Earlier this year Pastor Julian, who is profoundly deaf, said felt a strong call to the role to which he has now been installed.
‘I feel that God wants me to speak to the Deaf community and that he is showing me how to teach, how to help to fix relationships, how to understand the best fit for Deaf culture and how to create opportunities and be an encouragement’, he said.
Preaching in the richly expressive and visual language of Auslan is also something that Pastor Julian finds rewarding. ‘Auslan is wonderful. It’s so creative, there’s so much storytelling and it’s clear and easy to understand.’
Pastor Michael echoed the sentiment. ‘I love the deaf approach to worship, where all members are encouraged to participate in and contribute to the service,’ he said. ‘I also find it personally satisfying to worship in Auslan. There is something very profound about worshipping God with one’s whole body.’
Technology has become an important tool for the ADCC, and the congregation is thankful for a live-streaming system that was installed at Magill in 2020.
‘In some of my earlier travels I met some deaf Christians interstate who said they had no local church to attend, and I asked whether there was something the ADCC could do,’ said Pastor Michael.
‘We then applied for and received an LLL Mission Grant, and with contributions from both Pilgrim and the ADCC we were able to install cameras in the church shortly after the COVID lockdowns began. We now have a few viewers from interstate who watch our service every Sunday. Without our videos, they would struggle to find somewhere to worship in Auslan, their heart-language.’
The church also has a video studio, funded through another grant, that is used for creating Auslan content. During the height of the pandemic, the studio played an important role in the creation of various worship-at-home resources, for both the hearing and Deaf congregations at Magill. The church plans to use the studio extensively in the future to produce more desperately needed Bible studies and resources for the Deaf community.
Deaf Ministry has been supported by the Lutheran Church since the 1970s and has evolved through many iterations to a current schedule of weekly Sunday services. Services are livestreamed so that viewers from afar can worship in Auslan, along with the Adelaide locals who attend in-person.
The South Australia – Northern Territory District has set up a fund that will go towards supporting Pastor Julian’s ministry, and his ongoing training, and to assist with providing interpreter services when he attends church events. If you or your congregation feels led to contribute, the bank account details for donations are as follows:
Account name: LCA AGFund
BSB: 704 942
AC: 1009 69623
To find out more about the Adelaide Deaf Community Church, visit their website.
This content was first published in stories on the SA–NT District’s Online Together eNews and on the district website.
Jess Smith is SA – NT District Communications Officer.