Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Saints of Summer: Thomas Gallaudet and Henry Winter Syle

Thomas Gallaudet (1822-1902) and Henry Winter Syle (1846-1890) were pioneers in the education and inclusion of the deaf in the life of The Episcopal Church. Galladet, born in Connecticut, followed in his father's footsteps as an educator of the deaf.

Thomas (in the color image) was not deaf, but his wife, Elizabeth was deaf. He was ordained in The Episcopal Church, and established St. Ann's Church in New York with worship services primarily in sign language.

One of Gallaudet's students, Henry Winter Syle (black and white photograph) became the first deaf person ordained an Episcopal priest. Syle, born in China, educated in Gallaudet's school, was encouraged by Gallaudet to seek ordination. Syle went on to establish his own congregation for the deaf.

The work and witness of Gallaudet and Syle are great reminders that our church has long sought to include all of God's children at the Holy Table. We follow giant footsteps as we continue their work.


Janice Dean said...

Jim, thank you for pointing out the role of the Episcopal Church in the historical American Deaf community. I have taken several semesters of sign language and have family and friends touched by deafness; however, I never learned that Gallaudet's son became an Episcopal priest. Still, I wanted to point out that 'hearing impaired' is considered offensive by the Deaf community--the appropriate phrase is 'hard of hearing.' Given that people in the Deaf community do not believe that they have an impairment, we should not label them as such. You wouldn't call me 'maleness impaired,' would you? :-)

The Rev. James Richardson said...

Thanks Janice -- I got this edited using my Blackberry, but, alas, I couldn't leave a post mentioning it for some reason (I was away from wifi). Anyway, thanks for pointing this out, and please forgive the sloppy writing.

Janice Dean said...

Thanks, Jim. I'm just glad you care. :-)