We are a group of Deaf and Hearing people who worship God
together in the Episcopal tradition.
Photo by Garland Reeves
A short History
The Episcopal Church began ministry among Deaf people more than 150 years ago - when the Rev Thomas Gallaudet began
services in sign language in New York City in 1852. St. Ann's church
for the Deaf, still very active, is considered the "mother church" of
all congregations of Deaf people in the United States The Rev. Dr.
Gallaudet was personally responsible for organizing many more
Episcopal deaf congregations throughout the country. It is thought
that St. Ann's was the first organized church of Deaf people in any
The Episcopal Church also claims the honor of being first to ordain a
Deaf person. The Rev. Henry Winter Syle was ordained in1876 beginning
a long tradition of clergy who are Deaf in the Episcopal church.
Henry Winter Syle and Thomas Gallaudet share a feast day (August
27th) set aside in their honor.
In order to organize and promote the Episcopal Church's ministry
among Deaf people, the Conference of Church Workers Among the Deaf
was founded in 1881. In the beginning, only clergy were normally
members of this organization. In 1961, the Conference was reorganized
to make specific provision for lay delegates and lay members.. And in 1970 the organization's name was officially changed to
the Episcopal Conference of the Deaf.
Today the ECD represents many ministries with the Deaf in the
Episcopal Church through out the United States. This includes styles
of ministry that vary from Deaf congregations worshipping in American
Sign Language with interpreters for Hearing members and visitors to
Hearing congregations with interpreters for Deaf members of those
The challenges facing the modern day church are in attracting new
deaf laity and clergy from a largely unchurched Deaf population.
The Rev. Thomas Gallaudet
The Rev. Henry Winter Syle