GUMCD Conference Report

July 14-17, 2005

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

from past President Candis Shannon

The UMCD 2005 Global United Methodist Conference of the Deaf was a wonderful experience for me and I hope for all who attended. New information and perspectives expanded my mind. And we, as an organization, did the same thing as we committed to creating a new and truly global organization: the World Methodist Federation of the Deaf.

The conference began Thursday, July 17th with a flag ceremony, followed by introductions and a welcome to all. Then followed dinner and our opening worship. The following days were filled with Bible study, worship and workshops during which Deaf ministries in various countries around the world were discussed.

People attended from Korea, Japan, Kenya, Guam, Zimbabwe and many other countries and of course, the United States. The presentations were inspiring. The presenter would stand on the stage. For example, if the presenter was signing in American Sign Language, standing next to the presenter would be the Korean and Japanese interpreters. Sitting on the stage were the Kenyan and Zimbabwean interpreters. Voice interpreters faced the stage. Additional American Sign Language interpreters could be found throughout the audience. Computer-assisted real-time text translation put the words being shared up on a screen for all to read, and an FM system allowed hard of hearing people the ability to hear clearly.

Saturday night at the conference was a major highlight. Bishop Schol spoke on greatness, sharing anecdotes and urging us to maintain focus on three things to achieve true greatness: to surrender, work for strong character formation and to pursue something greater than ourselves.

After Bishop Schol's presentation, the Korean signers/dancers gave a dramatic performance on Christ's life, death and resurrection. Their professional performance was thrilling to watch, feel and experience.

So many new signs learned! Different countries, different cultures coming together to share. I loved dinner as we had a chance to really learn face to face from each other.

At the UMCD General membership meeting on Saturday afternoon, the new ByLaws were passed and new officers elected: Dan Kenyon, President, Rev. Joo Hai Kang, Vice-President, Pat Lancet, Secretary, Tom Hudspeth, Treasurer. Committee Chairs will continue on as Committee Chairs, but will no longer be officers. And, Rev. Nam from Korea will head up a new Planning Committee to help make the World Method Federation of the Deaf a reality.

Jurisdictional Presidents are David Ennis, Northeast Jurisdiction, Debbie Bennett, Southeast Jurisdiction, Curt Keller, North Central Jurisdiction, Julie Howard, South Central Jurisdiction, Eke Sharma, Western Jurisdiction and Amos Muyambo, Central Conference President (International Representative).

Many thanks to Wineva Hankamer, Past SEJ President, Marian Aiken, past Western Jurisdiction President, and Lisa Harvey, who stepped down as our Secretary. They all promised to continue to serve and help as we have much to do.

David Ennis was an awesome MC during the event. That is such a hard job and he made it look easy. Many thanks to Carol Stevens and Michelle Menefee and all of the interpreters…..wonderful. There were interpreters every where you looked.

Rev.Jason Hays handled the technology so smoothly! People using the FM System were saying that the sound system was so good they could practically use the sound system by itself. The CAN and CART operators were fantastic. It was so smooth that we could forget about the communication access and focus on what was being shared.

Rev. Peggy Johnson and the members of the NEJ Planning Committee, the members of UM Magothy and Christ Church of the Deaf…..thank you. There are so many people to thank I can’t name them all here, but your hard work was appreciated.

Our next conference in 2007 will be in Orlando, Florida and in 2009….let’s go to Korea!