“It feels like ‘I have come home.” Meet: Susan Bloomfield, Nottingham’s Deaf Priest

Posted on July 1, 2015


What led you to start working with deaf people?

I was born hearing and became deaf when I was about 5 years old. I don’t know why.

I could speak well so my parents kept me at mainstream school, and I did well at school. I started to learn signing when I was about 19. This was the start of a journey to find my identity. I am pleased you have made a video [the documentary Found] about this Charlie.

I joined Church Army 21 years ago. Church Army works to help people know God’s love in Jesus, through what we do, as well as what we say.

It was hard training with hearing people. I worked in a hearing Church for three years for my first job in Church Army. Then I was offered me a job in Somerset to become a Minister with Deaf people.

Somerset is a very beautiful rural area so there was lots of driving between Deaf Churches. After 8 years I moved to Guildford to do a similar job and also trained to become a priest.

Then after five years I moved to Nottingham in 2011. It is in Nottingham where I have been happiest because I spend much more time immersed in the Deaf Community. It feels like I have come home.

Tell us about your job and what it involves?

I work with people in the Deaf Community in Nottinghamshire.

I often go to the Nottingham Deaf Centre to meet Deaf people in different groups and also to Mansfield Deaf Centre.

If Deaf people need me I can visit in the local hospitals or homes. Sometimes they like me to pray with them.

I lead the Deaf Church at Nottingham Deaf Centre and at Mansfield Deaf Centre. Deaf Church is BSL led, and everything is translated to BSL. We have our own rhythm for songs or hymns and do not worry about using music.

One of the highlights this week will be the Lord Mayor of Nottingham’s inauguration on 4th July, when the Deaf choir will sign a song. The Lord Mayor’s charity for the year is the Nottinghamshire Deaf Society.

Last June I was ordained priest in the Church of England, so now I can conduct Weddings and Baptisms as well as funerals. I can lead services in either BSL or English depending on the needs of the people.

Susan Bloomfield

Susan Bloomfield

Interpreters provide voice over or signing. We no longer need a hearing priest to come in for our Holy Communion services.

Deaf people can look at me directly rather than look at an interpreter when a hearing priest who can’t sign leads the service.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

I enjoy meeting people and it’s great to have fun with other Deaf people.

I also enjoy helping Deaf people to understand the Bible. It’s a difficult book even for fluent English readers.

To translate it into BSL so people can understand and to see joy and understanding on their faces is rewarding. It is good to see people grow in confidence both in their faith and as a whole person.

Tell us about what you’ll be tweeting this week?
@ourCofE has a different person tweeting each week about their work in the Church of England. There are lots of interesting people out there.

I shall be tweeting about my work each day and about some of the issues Deaf people face in their lives. I’ll also tweet about my hearing dog, ‘Hovis,’ and about Breast Cancer recovery.

For  people who follow @ourCofE, I will be giving links to resources online to help Deaf people. There is quite a lot to tweet about.

Check out Susan’s tweets by clicking here.

Interview by Charlie Swinbourne, Editor.

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