Tag Archives: Deaf Ministry

Lottie Riekehof and Assemblies of God Ministries to the Deaf

This Week in AG History — July 19, 1941

By Glenn W. Gohr
Originally published on AG News, 27 August 2020

Lottie Riekehof (1920-2020) was an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, author, and a pioneer in the field of sign language interpreting. She is also remembered for other ministry roles she filled in her almost 100 years of life.

Lottie Louise Riekehof was born in Germany on Aug. 13, 1920. She and her family emigrated to northern New Jersey in 1923 and settled in the town of Elizabeth.

In about 1945 she started working at Calvary Gospel Church in Washington, D.C., as the overseer of a home for Christian women and also assisted the church as a musician. She began learning ASL, a few signs a week, from a deaf woman she met at Calvary Church. She attended Gallaudet College in 1947-1948 and took ASL courses from Dr. Elizabeth Peet, who was considered one of the foremost experts on sign language at that time. This enabled Riekehof to become an interpreter and interpreter educator.

Riekehof earned a B.A. degree in 1951 at Central Bible College (CBC) in Springfield, Missouri, and served as dean of women for 21 years. During this time, she founded the CBC deaf program and trained both deaf college students and interpreters. She received an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University, where she was engaged in teaching and research at the New York University Center for Research and Training in Deafness.

In 1970 she became dean of women and professor of deaf studies at Gallaudet College. She continued as dean of women at Gallaudet until the college abolished that position in 1974. She became the new coordinator for interpreter training for the American Sign Language program at Gallaudet and later served as department chair until her retirement in 1990.

Riekehof knew that resources for learning sign language were limited, and this led her to write her first book in 1961, called American Sign Language. This book was revised in 1963 with a new title, Talk to the Deaf. Starting in 1978, it was revised again and called The Joy of Signing. Countless hours were spent illustrating and designing the book so that sign language illustrations could help people learn to sign. The book includes a wide range of vocabulary, diagrams, the history of signing, and how to produce signs, etc. That book has sold over two million copies and is still in print. A video version, which includes nine hours of footage, was also produced. Supplemental instruction is also found in two Joy of Signing puzzle books she helped to create.

Much in demand as a seminar speaker and interpreter, Lottie Riekehof conducted workshops on sign language and deaf interpreting in various places in the U.S. as well as in Canada, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and other places. She was also selected as interpreter for special occasion in Washington, D.C., such as President Gerald Ford (in the oval office), Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, Mrs. Richard Nixon, and President Ronald Reagan (at his inauguration).

Riekehof was a long-time resident of Arlington, Virginia. She worked for many years with Linda Martin, an Assemblies of God pastor who is deaf. She and Linda were founding ministers for the Potomac Deaf Church at Arlington Assembly of God in Arlington, Virginia. Linda is the adoptive mother of 29 deaf children adopted from many countries. These children and now grandchildren all considered Lottie Riekehof as their grandmother. Lottie also was a member of Arlington Assembly of God for over 50 years. She served as an organist and pianist and also as a deacon. She passed away on Aug. 6, 2020, just one week short of her 100th birthday.

Riekehof wrote an inspiring report in the Evangel which highlighted Assemblies of God deaf camps in Augusta, Kansas, and Hartford City, Indiana. She described a typical day at camp that included everything from devotions (led by counselors trained in the use of sign language), chapel services, and educational classes to Christian living courses, crafts, and recreation.

The evening worship included “singing” using sign language, with personal testimonies also given in sign language. One lady who attended the camp in Indiana testified, “I learned here that I must be born again!” A woman from Kansas wanted to attend both the Kansas and Indiana camps because, as she put it, “I was afraid I would grow cold again.”

Read “Salvation for all the Camp” on pages 12-13 of the Aug. 29, 1954, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Receive Ye the Holy Ghost,” by J. Roswell Flower

• “Revival in Chile,” by Mrs. John C. Jackson

• “Joshua’s Last Campaign,” by E. S. Williams

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: www.iFPHC.org

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Elsie Peters: Pioneer of Assemblies of God Ministries to the Deaf

Elsie Peters1

Elsie and Glover Peters, holding a model of their church and parsonage in Los Angeles, California, 1934

This Week in AG History — April 11, 1931

By Darrin J. Rodgers
Originally published on AG News, 09 April 2020

Elsie Peters (1898-1965) was the earliest known Assemblies of God minister to the deaf. Peters’ call to deaf ministry came in 1919, when she befriended a deaf couple in Springfield, Missouri. At the time, Peters was a housewife with three children. One day, when stopping to catch her breath from the busyness of daily life, she uttered a little prayer, “Lord, what can I do for You today?” To her surprise, she felt the Lord answer her with the following instruction: “Go and visit a deaf mute.”

Peters visited a local deaf couple, Sullivan and Addie Chainey, who gladly welcomed her into their home. They told her that they often felt overlooked. It was difficult for them to make friends. Through their friendship with Peters, the Chaineys eventually accepted Christ and also entered into deaf ministry.

Elsie’s husband, Grover, worked for the railroad. His job meant they had to relocate to a new city every few years. In each new city, Elsie immersed herself in ministry. When they moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1920, Elsie brought with her a passion for working with deaf people. She could not keep quiet about the calling God had placed in her heart.

Assemblies of God leaders in Texas confirmed Elsie’s calling and, in 1924, ordained her to the ministry. In 1926, she secured the use of the YMCA building in Fort Worth and held what she deemed to be the first Pentecostal revival services for the deaf. Deaf came from across the Midwest to attend the services. She later held similar revival campaigns across America, helping to meet the spiritual needs of the deaf and raising the profile of the deaf community within the church.

In the late 1920s, Elsie and Grover moved to Los Angeles. Elsie saw the move as an opportunity to reach the city’s large deaf community, which had been largely ignored by other churches. They launched the first Assemblies of God church started specifically for the deaf — First Full Gospel Church for the Deaf. The first service was held in a small mission on Hoover Street on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929. That same day the stock markets crashed, which resulted in the Great Depression. But the small mission flourished and soon relocated to a 300-seat stucco church with parsonage. The April 11, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel included a report of this first Assemblies of God deaf congregation.

From this inauspicious beginning, the Assemblies of God ministry to the deaf emerged. Lottie Riekehof began teaching sign language at Central Bible Institute in 1948, and Home Missions (now U.S. Missions) created a division for Deaf Ministries in 1953. In 2020, there are 58 deaf culture Assemblies of God churches in the United States.

See the report and photograph of the First Full Gospel Church for the Deaf on page 13 of the April 11, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “An Open Door in Africa,” by W. Lloyd Shirer

• “A Visit to Central America and Mexico,” by Sunshine (Mrs. H. C.) Ball

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: archives@ag.org
Website: iFPHC.org

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Elsie Peters, Pioneer of Assemblies of God Deaf Ministries

PenEva19320611_0952_12
This Week in AG History–April 11, 1931
By Darrin Rodgers

Also published in PE News, 9 April 2015

Elsie Peters (1898-1965) was the earliest known Assemblies of God minister to the deaf. Peters’ call to deaf ministry came in 1919, when she befriended a deaf couple in Springfield, Missouri. At the time, Peters was a housewife with three children. One day, when stopping to catch her breath from the busyness of daily life, she uttered a little prayer, “Lord, what can I do for You today?” To her surprise, she felt the Lord answer her with the following instruction: “Go and visit a deaf mute.”

Peters visited a local deaf couple, Sullivan and Addie Chainey, who gladly welcomed her into their home. They told her that they often felt overlooked. It was difficult for them to make friends. Through their friendship with Peters, the Chaineys eventually accepted Christ and also entered into deaf ministry.

Elsie’s husband, Grover, worked for the railroad. His job meant they had to relocate to a new city every few years. In each new city, Elsie immersed herself in ministry. When they moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1920, Elsie brought with her a passion for working with deaf people. She could not keep quiet about the calling God had placed in her heart.

Assemblies of God leaders in Texas confirmed Elsie’s calling and, in 1924, ordained her to the ministry. In 1926, she secured the use of the Y.M.C.A. building in Fort Worth and held what she deemed to be the first Pentecostal revival services for the deaf. Deaf came from across the Midwest to attend the services. She later held similar revival campaigns across America, helping to meet the spiritual needs of the deaf and raising the profile of the deaf community within the church.

In the late 1920s, Elsie and Grover moved to Los Angeles. Elsie saw the move as an opportunity to reach the city’s large deaf community, which had been largely ignored by other churches. They launched the first Assemblies of God church started specifically for the deaf — First Full Gospel Church for the Deaf. The first service was held in a small mission on Hoover Street on Tuesday, October 29, 1929. That same day the stock markets crashed, which resulted in the Great Depression. But the small mission flourished and soon relocated to a 300-seat stucco church with parsonage. The April 11, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel included a report of this first Assemblies of God deaf congregation.

From this inauspicious beginning, the Assemblies of God ministry to the deaf emerged. Lottie Riekehof began teaching sign language at Central Bible Institute in 1948, and Home Missions (now U.S. Missions) created a division for Deaf Ministries in 1953. In 2014, the Assemblies of God included 33 deaf culture churches and 538 churches with some type of ministry in working with deaf people in the United States.

See the report and photograph of the First Full Gospel Church for the Deaf on page 13 of the April 11, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “An Open Door in Africa,” by W. Lloyd Shirer

• “A Visit to Central America and Mexico,” by Sunshine (Mrs. H. C.) Ball

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center

– See more at: http://penews.org/Article/This-Week-in-AG-History-April-11-1931/#sthash.hQubSM28.dpuf

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA
Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free: 877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Early Assemblies of God Deaf Ministry

PenEva19310411_13

Photo from the April 31, 1931 issue of the Pentecostal Evangel

This Week in AG History — October 29, 1932

By Darrin Rodgers
Originally published on AG-News, Mon, 28 Oct 2013 – 3:09 PM CST

Elsie Peters (1898-1965) was the earliest known Assemblies of God minister to the deaf. Peters’ call to deaf ministry came in 1919, when she befriended a deaf couple in Springfield, Missouri. At the time, Peters was a housewife with three children. One day, when stopping to catch her breath from the busyness of daily life, she uttered a little prayer, “Lord, what can I do for You today?” To her surprise, she felt the Lord answer her with the following instruction: “Go and visit a deaf mute.”

Peters visited a local deaf couple, Sullivan and Addie Chainey, who gladly welcomed her into their home. They told her that they often felt overlooked. It was difficult for them to make friends. Through their friendship with Peters, the Chaineys eventually accepted Christ and also entered into deaf ministry.

From this inauspicious beginning, the Assemblies of God ministry to the deaf emerged. Lottie Riekehof began teaching sign language at Central Bible Institute in 1948, and Home Missions (now U.S. Missions) created a division for Deaf Ministries in 1953. In 2011, the Assemblies of God included 82 deaf culture churches and more than 1,500 churches with some type of ministry in working with deaf people in the United States.

Read Elsie Peters’ testimony about her ministry to the deaf on page 14 of the October 29, 1932, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:
* “The Holy Spirit and the Scriptures,” by Ernest S. Williams
* “Some Modern Definitions,” by Myer Pearlman

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

For more information about deaf ministry, see the website of the National Deaf Culture Fellowship of the Assemblies of God.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center. For current editions of the Evangelclick here.

Do you have Pentecostal historical materials that should be preserved? Please consider depositing these materials at the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center (FPHC). The FPHC, located in the Assemblies of God national offices, is the largest Pentecostal archive in the world. We would like to preserve and make your treasures accessible to those who write the history books.

Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center
1445 North Boonville Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802 USA

Phone: 417.862.1447 ext. 4400
Toll Free:  877.840.5200
Email: Archives@ag.org

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Filed under Church, Missions