Who we are and
How we came to be

WOLD is one of a handful of Deaf congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  

The three videos below are in sign language only, but you can click for transcripts.  The first video explains WOLD’s relations with the wider church – the ELCA, our Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Deaf Association (ELDA).  A transcript for that video is here.  

Scrolling down, the next video tells the story of how WOLD came to be (click here for that transcript), and the last video, at the bottom, is a helpful explanation of “What to expect on your first visit to WOLD (transcript here).



Videos to watch on this page:

  • WOLD Relations

  • Short History

  • What to Expect

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Did you know…?

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WOLD received the “City on a Hill” award at the 2018 ELDA biennial conference!

The “City on a Hill” award is based on Matt. 5:14. The award is “for any congregation or organization in recognition of their donation of resources, programs or ministries that strengthen the Church’s outreach to Deaf people with the Gospel anywhere.”

WOLD council members expressed their gratitude at receiving this honor with these statements: “We feel humble to receive it, and we feel encouraged to do more.” “The award helps us to think not about ourselves, but about others.” “It reminds us that ‘church’ is also what we do outside of worship.” WOLD leaders appreciate the recognition of its members’ work that the award brings.

A telling statement about what it means for WOLD to receive the award was made by one council member, herself a chartering member of the congregation — “It helps us see the difference in ourselves from long ago to now.”

WOLD’s church council recognizes what it means for any ELDA member site to receive this award, by saying in a recent council meeting, “It is important for this award to exist, so others know there are Deaf churches doing God’s work.” It is in this sense that WOLD proudly bears the award.


Did you know…?

WOLD will celebrate its 25th Anniversary in 2019!

WOLD was founded on Feb. 20, 1994, to give Deaf people in the Lancaster area an authentic expression of worship through American Sign Language (ASL).

ASL allows – in ways that interpreted English cannot – ministry that Deaf people can experience personally, through their own culture and language. ASL “breaks down the walls of disability,” and gives Deaf people a means to participate in God’s grace, furthering and empowering their discipleship of the Risen Lord.

WOLD's unique ministry reaches beyond Lancaster, and draws Deaf people from 13 surrounding zip codes! WOLD’s mission statement is “We share God’s love in the Deaf community, so that together, we can develop our Christian faith.”

WOLD’s priority in outreach is for Deaf people. Locally, WOLD supports the work of social service agencies focused on serving the Deaf population. Nationally, WOLD aided the Texas School for the Deaf and a Puerto Rican Deaf agency in their recovery from hurricanes. Internationally, WOLD has given support to a Deaf mission in Jamaica, and the Deaf Centre of the Lutheran Christian Church of Nigeria. WOLD faithfully supports the annual Lenten & Thanksgiving appeals from ELDA.

WOLD engages in regular midweek Bible study. Bible studies used at WOLD have been presented at Hearing congregations to favorable reception. WOLD also serves the community by hosting movie events of different sizes. Here’s to 25 years…. and more!

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