Second online congress provides tools, encouragement across several continents.
Published on: 03-26-2021
The second Adventist International Congress for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind connected hundreds of Possibilities Ministries leaders and members on March 12 and 13, 2021.
The event, organized by Adventist Deaf Ministries International (ADMI) of the Inter-European Division (EUD) of the Adventist Church, overcame the challenges of an online event to offer tools and encouragement to participants across several continents.
According to the organizers, the event drew about 150 participants who followed the proceedings through Zoom, and another 250 who registered for the YouTube livestream. An online version of the congress was not the first choice of the organizers but the best they could do under the current circumstances, they said.
“Our intention has always been the same: to organize an in-person international event,” said ADMI director and EUD communication director Corrado Cozzi. “However, the ongoing threat posed by the pandemic forced us to postpone the in-person option indefinitely. Still, we decided to move ahead and host an online event as a way of keeping in touch with participants from previous conferences.”
In this case, Cozzi said, the usual ADMI EUD motto, “Through My Hands,” was replaced by “Through My Zoom” to emphasize the online nature of the congress. Still, it was worth it, Cozzi said.
“It was a pleasure to see all the participants ‘looking out their windows’ and talking to their friends,” he said. “It’s still dialogue because sign language allows for exchanges without interrupting others.” According to Cozzi, these informal exchanges were the most important part of the event, which was otherwise marked by well-thought-out presentations. “Imagine that many people stayed until ninety minutes after the end of the daily program to talk!” he added.
Special guests and speakers included Jitka Moravkova, a deaf theology student from the Czech Republic; Henry Maina Kamau, a deaf pastor from Kenya; and Douglas Domingo da Silva, a deaf pastor from Brazil. The three of them shared spiritual messages focused on how they can overcome any obstacle with the invaluable assistance of Jesus.
Other guests included international mime Carlos Martínez, Adventist Church Possibilities Ministries director Larry Evans, and Adventist Church deaf ministries associate coordinator Jeff Jordan.
Even though the program was mainly presented in English, it was translated into seven other languages and a variety of sign languages. Participants were invited to look for the interpreter showing a specific flag for their language. Additional activities included an interactive segment in which participants were able to share a specific contribution of their own.
The event was coordinated by Geoffrey Zobries, director of the Adventist German Association of the Deaf and Deaf-Blind. Being deaf himself, Geoffrey led the whole event and allowed all participants to be involved in the program.
According to Zobries, the next congress is scheduled to take place in September 2021. While it is expected it can be an in-person event, organizers said they remain open to a different option. “It very well could become another online event,” they said.