If there are any posters familiar with the inside operation of Watch Tower's deaf ministry, please PM me.
http://www.pe.com/localnews/corona/stories/PE_News_Local_D_deaf10.22bb969.html Click on the link and photos can be seen.
Hundreds of deaf, hard-of-hearing Jehovah's Witnesses gather in Norco for annual conference
11:19 PM PDT on Friday, July 9, 2010
By DAVID OLSON The Press-Enterprise
Video: Norco convention is silent, but spiritual
Every summer for the past seven years, Aaron Hairston has eagerly awaited the annual 3-day Jehovah's Witnesses convention for the deaf and hard of hearing, which began Friday in Norco.
Hairston, 25, of Moreno Valley, enjoys learning about the Bible and strengthening his spirituality among hundreds of other deaf Jehovah's Witnesses.
"My primary language is American Sign Language, and when a speaker is directly speaking to me in my own language, there's more of a bond," Hairston said through an interpreter.
The regional convention is expected to draw about 1,500 people -- mostly from Southern California, Arizona and Nevada -- to the Norco Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. The meeting in previous years had also been geared toward Jehovah's Witnesses from other parts of the West, but the growing turnout in Norco -- which last year was 2,100 -- spurred the religious denomination to last week inaugurate a similar conference in the Bay Area.
Caleb Chapman traveled 340 miles from Phoenix to attend the meeting. Chapman, 26, said it's fulfilling to be among so many other deaf Jehovah's Witnesses.
"We're like a family, spiritual brothers and sisters," Chapman said through an interpreter. "We have this bond and unity with each other when we all convene like this and come together to worship as one huge group."
The meeting features Bible talks, ASL songs, Bible dramas and other activities.
Participants are notified of the beginning of sessions by the flickering of lights and a man who walks around with a sign that says, "Please Be Seated. Session to Begin." Two giant screens allow attendees in the assembly hall's auditorium to see presenters' hand movements. Claps are replaced by the deaf equivalent of shaking one's raised hands.
As hundreds of people Friday morning signed to the opening song, "Welcome One Another," virtually the only sounds were the whishes of suit coats and dresses and a few crying babies.
Jehovah's Witnesses, which has long put a priority in seeking new members, is a leader among religions in reaching out to people in their primary languages. The denomination's website includes information in 403 languages, including 39 sign languages.
There are 145 Jehovah's Witnesses congregations nationwide that are entirely ASL, including four in the Inland area, said Pasch McCombs, one of the organizers of the conference.
Many faiths rely primarily on ASL interpretations of spoken services, an approach that Jehovah's Witnesses has moved away from and which Hairston said doesn't convey the same meaning.
"When there's someone interpreting English, it's not as clear," he said.
Reach David Olson at 951-368-9462 or [email protected]
IF YOU GO
The southwestern regional conference of deaf and hard-of-hearing Jehovah's Witnesses continues today and Sunday.
Where: Norco Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 1001 Parkridge Ave.
When: 9:30 a.m. to 4:55 p.m. today, 9:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. Sunday.
Information: [email protected] or 619-243-9388