The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
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Deaf Ministry

Deaf missioner for Connecticut: The Rev. Eric Anderson-Krengel, DeafEpiscopalCT@aol.com.
Congregations: St. Paul's, meets at St. John's, West Hartford; Ascension, meets at St. Luke's, Darien (or in homes)

Update 5/7/12: The deaf missioner has announced his plans to retire in 2012 and all those involved in and/or interested to join an online group are invited to discuss the future of deaf ministry in CT. The group is at www.ctmissionconnect.org. You will need to join the site first (free, open to everyone) if you haven't, already. To prevent spammers your "application" will be reviewed, generally within 24-48 hours and sometimes in much less. Once you're in, go to the "groups" tab and search. Here's the direct link: http://ctmissionconnect.org/group/the-future-of-deaf-ministry-in-connecticut

The Diocese of Connecticut has a history of ministry with deaf people dating back to the early 1900s. The diocese is also tied to the beginnings of the national Church ministry with the deaf.

The Rev. Erich Anderson-Krengel at his ordination to the priesthood on Feb. 16, 2002 in West Hartford, CT. It was the first ordination of a deaf man to the priesthood in Connecticut in nearly a century. Right, Anderson-Krengel, at center, is kneeling before the bishop, who is seated. They are surrounded by priests who will participate with the bishop in the laying on of hands. The Rev. Ray Andersen, former diocesan missioner with the deaf, is standing second from the right.

Photo by K. Hamilton

History
In 1876, the Rev. Henry Winter Syle was the first deaf person ordained to the priesthood in the Episcpal Church. Syle's mentor was the Rev. Thomas Gallaudet, a hearing priest born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1822 to a deaf mother and an educator father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet founded the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford in 1817; it is the oldest school for the deaf in this country, and the birthplace of American Sign Language. Thomas Gallaudet's younger brother, Edward Miner Gallaudet, helped start what is now Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., becoming its first president.

The ministry with the deaf in Connecticut started in 1905 with a congregation that met at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford. George Hefflon oversaw the ministry initially as a layman; he was later ordained deacon in 1907 and priest in 1910 by Bishop Brewster, then diocesan bishop of Connecticut. Hefflon ministered until 1925 when he was killed. He was followed by the Rev. Stanley Light, a hearing priest, from 1925-1963. Light made a continuous three-month circuit of the deaf congregations in New England. During Light's years, a second congregation met at St. John's, Bridgeport. From 1963-1966, a lay reader named Gordon Clarke kept the Hartford mission going.

Under then-diocesan Bishop Esquirole, the diocese decided to support full time mission work with the deaf. They hired the Rev. Camile Desmairas as vicar of the congregation known as St. Paul's Mission of the Deaf, which met at the Cathedral. Desmairas, who was deaf, was a graduate of Gallaudet University as well as the Episcopal seminary in Virginia. In 1972,  the diocese hired the Rev. Raynor Andersen, a hearing priest, as full time missioner, following Desmairas' departure for another position in Birmingham, Alabama.

For more information about deaf ministry in the diocese of Connecticut, contact the Rev. Anderson-Krengel by email at DeafEpiscopalCT@aol.com.

 Link to the national Episcopal Conference of the Deaf.