Original Research

Language as a barrier to ministry of the Word with special reference to sign language in ministry: Human dignity perspective

Leepo J. Modise
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 37, No 1 | a1596 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v37i1.1596 | © 2016 Leepo J. Modise | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 February 2016 | Published: 29 July 2016

About the author(s)

Leepo J. Modise, Department of Philosophy, Practical and Systematic Theology, University of South Africa, South Africa


This article is born out of my participation in the General Synod Ministerial Formation for theological training of Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA), when a decision was taken to license a student with a disability to be a minister of the Word in URCSA. Furthermore, my experience and observation of the licensing of the two candidates with hearing impairments to the ministry of the Word and Sacrament in URCSA and Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa (DRCSA) has encouraged me to conduct this research. This article is made up of four important parts: Firstly, the researcher will discuss Belhar Confession as the confession that emphasises unity (inclusivity), reconciliation and justice. Secondly, Belhar Confession and disability from the human dignity perspective will be discussed. Thirdly, the ecclesiological practices and shortcomings from the human dignity perspective will be highlighted. Fourthly, pastoral care as the affirmation of human dignity will be discussed.

Interdisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The fields involved in this article are Systematic Theology, Sociology and Psychology. The author challenges classification of people with a disability under the category of limited competence by the Dutch Reformed Church when they license the ministerial candidates. The future results will reveal the inclusivity in terms of licensing and calling of ministers in the Dutch Reformed Church Family. This research calls for the change in the traditional discourse within ecclesiological, sociological and psychological fields, which exclude the people with a disability from the ministry of the Word and Sacraments.


Language; Sign Lanuage Human dignity; ministry; Disability


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Crossref Citations

1. Multilingualism in incarnational ministry: A quest to reach the neglected
Kasebwe T.L. Kabongo
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