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June 30, 1999






Deaf Conference marks 50 years
___By Dan Martin
___Texas Baptist Communications
___WACO--The Texas Baptist Conference of the Deaf celebrated its 50th anniversary by honoring its founder and first president and the missionary who has served deaf Texas Baptists for 20 years.
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CONFERENCE OFFICERS for 1999-2000 are Laura Loeb Hill, Aric Randolph, Vicki Welch and Toby Welch.
ore than 350 people attended the conference at Baylor University June 11-13. It featured prayer, praise, worship, fellowship, workshops and an anniversary banquet.
___The organization is composed of 20 congregations and 140 interpreted ministries across the state.
___Carter Bearden of Canton, Ga., was honored as the founder and first president of the conference.
___Robert Parrish, consultant for deaf ministries with the church ministries department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, was honored for 20 years of service as missionary to the deaf in Texas.
___Also recognized at the banquet was Lillian Beard, 91, now of Kingswood, who started a deaf ministry at First Baptist Church of Houston Feb. 3, 1924, and is known as "Miss Lillian" among the deaf.
___The conference also installed officers for 1999-2000: Aric Randolph, pastor of New Life Deaf Fellowship of Fort Worth, succeeded Dirk Hill, pastor of Grace Deaf Fellowship of Kilgore, as president. Randolph previously served as president in 1995-199
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ATTENDING the anniversary celebration were Jerry Seale (below at left) and Carter Bearden. Bearden was the founder and first president of the Texas Baptist Conference on the Deaf as well as a missionary to the Texas deaf from 1949-52. Seale was missionary to the deaf in Texas from 1973-76.
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___Other officers of the conference are Laura Loeb Hill of Dallas of Grace Deaf Fellowship of Kilgore, first vice president; Toby Welch, pastor of Austin Baptist Deaf Church, second vice president; and Vicki Welch of Austin, third vice president. Secretary is Paula Sibley of Baptist Temple in McAllen; assistant secretary is Ann Hornbeak of Woodhaven Baptist Deaf Church of Houston; treasurer is Marvin Loeb of Silent Friends Chapel of Dallas; and child care coordinator is Charlotte Contreras of Silent Friends Chapel of Dallas.
___Bearden, who is retired from the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, was conference pastor and keynote speaker at the banquet.
___"I was attending Gallaudet College in Washington and in the summer of 1948, I came to Waco to take three courses at Baylor," Bearden signed to the crowd. "I found I could take the classes, and I transferred to Baylor, leaving Washington without my mother's knowledge."
___Soon after arriving, he contacted the HMB about working with the deaf in Texas and
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"MISS LILLIAN" BEARD, 91, of Kingwood, was honored as the dean of Texas Baptist interpreters for the deaf.
was appointed missionary in February 1949.
___"I began to work as a student missionary, and when I worked in Austin, I met Miriam Johnson (daughter of one of the earliest missionaries to the deaf in Texas) and she had a remarkable idea. That idea was to form the Texas Baptist Conference of the Deaf," he said.
___It was formed at a meeting in Austin in August 1949, he added. For the first several years, it met with the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas but then started meeting annually on its own.
___Bearden served the conference as its first president in 1949 and 1950 before moving to Atlanta to serve as Southern Baptists' first national missionary to the deaf.
___He reminisced about those early years but challenged the leadership of the conference to "be prepared to use the technology. I envision a time when we will reach deaf people not so much through the church (building) as through the computer and the television."
___"Do not rest on the crown of what you have done these last 50 years," he said. "Be prepared to use the technology that is available to reach deaf people for Jesus Christ."
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