Behind the Scenes of an LDS Ward for the Deaf

The sheer beauty of Sunday worship at the Salt Lake Valley LDS First Ward reflects an elemental fact:

Church members hear the gospel with their eyes.

The Mormon ward, a few blocks from Salt Lake City's Trolley Square, caters to the hearing-impaired and their families, one of eight wards or branches in Utah and scores more worldwide devoted to American Sign Language, or ASL.

Otherwise familiar LDS rituals draw heavily on assisting technology and decades of careful adaptation within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A clear and strong sense of community unites the congregation, forged by shared experience and language as well as mutual faith.

The rich history of deaf Mormons all seems to coalesce like a jewel as members join in on Sunday's first hymn. With captions flickering across a host of TV screens around the chapel, their hands and arms arc and weave quietly in unison as they sign instead of sing the lyrics to "Home Can Be a Heaven on Earth."

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