It started in the late 1990s when Teresa Froese agreed to sign for her Deaf friends if they attended her church, West Portal, in Saskatoon. For 1 year, Froese signed all services herself. Another year, a video with interpretation was provided, but the congregation’s imagination had been captured and volunteers came forward. West Portal now provides ASL interpretation every Sunday at the first service, to 7–9 regular Deaf and hard-of-hearing attenders. Dickie Crandall, who is self-taught in ASL, schedules 2 interpreters each Sunday: 1 for songs and announcements, 1 for the sermon. The interpreters receive the lyrics and text ahead of time to prepare. “Every Sunday I do the sermon, I learn new words,” says volunteer Joanne Stein. It’s a different form of worship, members say about sign interpretation. “We love to watch you sign,” the interpreters are often told.
Moms praying for moms
Mennonite Brethren women in southern Ontario are praying for unwed pregnant women and mothers in crisis. Rehoboth Homes near Aylmer provide housing and support for pregnant women or mothers of newborns whose reasons for staying include agency referral, abusive situations, unplanned pregnancy, and others. The main house offers family-style living until the child begins to crawl, and a transitional home provides an apartment and continuing support programs for mothers with young children. Each mother is matched with a “prayer mom,” a woman from a church in the surrounding area who commits to pray for the young woman. Initially minimal information is shared, but as the resident becomes comfortable with their partner, they may give more information. “Although I have never met the girls for whom I pray, God knows them intimately,” says prayer mom Carolyn Nethercott from Port Rowan MB Church. “I am confident that he hears and responds to my prayers on their behalf.”