Date published: 23 January 2013
St Andrew's, Dearnley and Smithy Bridge
A member of the Anglican clergy who was born profoundly deaf is fronting a move to make churchgoing more appealing to the deaf community in Rochdale.
As chaplain to deaf people in the Diocese of Manchester, the Rev Cathy Nightingale is keen to encourage at least one church in each town across the diocese to provide services in sign language.
She said: "Ideally, I would like to see a church in each area where deaf people are made to feel particularly welcome and where their special needs are provided for.
"In order for this to work we will be making contact with Rochdale Deaf Club. As far as I know there are no Church of England services in Rochdale at the moment which cater specifically for the deaf on a regular basis."
She will be starting her mission in Rochdale at St Andrew's, Dearnley, Littleborough tomorrow (Sun) morning where she will be leading the Eucharist in British Sign Language and later talking about her work in the deaf community. Also present will be a British Sign Language interpreter.
The service starts at 10am at St Andrew's, which is situated on Arm Road, Dearnley OL15 8NJ, just off the main Rochdale to Littleborough road, about 100 yards past the Union Road entrance to the former Birch Hill Hospital on the Littleborough side.
"We are extending a special invitation to anyone who is deaf," said the vicar of St Andrew's and Dean of Rochdale, the Rev Sharon Jones.
"We don't even have one deaf person who worships with us regularly and that in itself may suggest that it is something the Church needs to look at."
The Rev Nightingale, who is priest in charge of St John's, Mossley, added: "If it works out well on Sunday we could look at the possibility of doing something on a regular basis, as we do at St Matthew's, Stretford, where we have a very good sign language partnership."
It was while studying at the University of Birmingham that she began to get involved with the deaf community.
"I tried going to several different churches," she added: "but I rely on lip reading and in each case I was frustrated because I couldn't understand everything that was going on.
"My first job was working with deaf students in the further education sector and it was then that I could no longer ignore the fact that God was calling me into ministry to carry the good news to deaf people, especially to young people in the deaf community.
"I trained at Queen's, Birmingham and since my ordination I have divided my ministry, working both as chaplain to deaf people and also in a parish as priest in charge."