Minsk, September 16, 2022
Thanks to the efforts of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, a special school of Orthodox sign language was organized in Minsk, attracting students not only from all over Belarus, but also from Russia and Lithuania.
The school, which was held from August 29 to September 7, was organized by the Church’s Synodal Department for Religious Education and Catechesis and the Brotherhood of St. John the Theologian of the Diocese of Minsk, reports the Belarusian Church.
The Sign Language Summer School was launched last year with two trial classes. This year, the program was expanded and was also offered in an online format in addition to in-person participation.
The Church has used advanced sign language interpreters to train participants in the basics, with more emphasis on ecclesiastical terms. They also had the opportunity to attend the Divine Liturgy with simultaneous sign language translation, which many students attended for the first time.
They also had the chance to put their training to the test – the Church of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem where the liturgy was served has an active community of deaf and hard of hearing people for over 20 years now.
The liturgical vocabulary of Belarusian Sign Language was developed by a special commission over the course of 25 years. Each word or phrase has been meticulously compared to the ancient Greek language, and scholars have referenced how certain words are signed in Ukrainian, Polish and other languages.
So far, there is one church in Minsk that provides full sign language translation of the Divine Liturgy, but volunteer interpreters can be assigned to other parishes upon invitation.
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Source: Orthodox Christianity