We offer gentle and honest Deaf-Culture-style worship
in the Episcopal Tradition.
We focus on love more than judgment.
We support Deaf-led spiritual and educational programs in our community, and partner with people of other traditions.
+ Worship Sundays 10am.
NOW 10:30AM on Zoom. See calendar.
In-person worship some Sundays 1pm
socially distanced every-other Sunday.
Outdoors if weather is mild.
+ Scriptures and Prayers SIGNED
so they make sense.
+ Deaf leaders
Sign scriptures & hymns
Lead worship responses.
Serve the wine cup during Communion.
Run our church.
Participate & lead Diocesan events & groups.
+ Social Time and Refreshments
after worship. (Gluten free too!)
+ offers opportunities for questions
+ focuses on God's glory, mystery & love.
+ is "liturgical" ~ similar to Catholic and
+ Voice interpretation if needed.
+ Baptisms and Preparation
to become a Christian.
+ Confirmation (when our Bishop visits
and education to prepare for it)
(Faithful couples of any orientation may
be married in the Episcopal Church.)
+ Funerals for anyone.
St. Thomas Deaf Church traces its ancestry back to the Reverend Thomas Gallaudet (1787-1851), elder son of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who introduced Sign Language to the United States. In 1817, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, Laurent Clerc and Mason Cogswell, founded the American School for the Deaf (ASD). In 1821, he married Sophia Fowler, a Deaf woman. They had two sons, Thomas (1822-1902) and Edward Miner (1837-1917).
The younger son, Edward Miner Gallaudet, was the first superintendent of a school for deaf and blind children in Washington DC, which became in 1864 the first college for the Deaf, now known as Gallaudet University.
The older son Thomas Gallaudet (no middle name) became an Episcopal priest. In 1852, he founded in New York City St. Ann's Church for the Deaf, which still exists to this day. He frequently traveled to different cities where he would gather Deaf people for worship in Sign Language. He also advocated for and mentored Deaf people who became deacons and priests in the Episcopal Church and carried Deaf ministry even further.
In 1876, Henry Winter Syle (1846-1890), became the first ever Deaf ordained clergyperson. Syle became a deacon in the Episcopal Church. A few months later, another Deaf Episcopalian —Austin Ward Mann— was ordained deacon. They were ordained to the priesthood together in 1883.
In 1876, the Rev. Austin Mann traveled to St. Louis, sought out Deaf people and asked them to invite their friends to worship together in sign language at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal). In 1891, this Deaf congregation officially joined the Diocese of Missouri as St. Thomas Mission for the Deaf, named in honor of Thomas Gallaudet, our Episcopal "Apostle to the Deaf."
Now meeting in the downstairs chapel of Grace Episcopal Church in Kirkwood, MO (or online, as needed), St. Thomas Deaf Church worships Deaf-Culture-style in ASL and continues under Deaf lay leadership with the Reverend Dr. Emily Hillquist Davis serving as Vicar.
A Missionary Chronicle: Being a History of the Ministry to the Deaf in the Episcopal Church
(1860-1980) by Otto B. Berg 1984
Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, wikipedia.org/wki/Thomas_Hopkins_Gallaudet
Thomas H. Gallaudet, Episcopal Conference of the Deaf
Edward Miner Gallaudet, Gallaudet University Archives
Henry Winter Syle, Episcopal Conference of the Deaf
Austin Ward Mann, St. Thomas Church for the Deaf
1881 ECD Conference, Episcopal Conference of the Deaf
2014 ECD Conference, St. Thomas Church for the Deaf
Deaf founder of St. Thomas Deaf Episcopal Church in St. Louis and Deaf ministries in many states.