Combined congregation in worship at Christ UMC.

Conclusion

With the integration of the Whatcoat and Christ United Methodist Church for the Deaf, the Whatcoat Mission was subsumed. The Whatcoat Mission for Colored Deaf was a unique social institution that served the intellectual, spiritual and social needs of African American deaf people in the city of Baltimore for fifty years. Despite economic, social and political factors that prevented the mission and its congregants from establishing their own permanent home, the mission endured.

Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, Deaf History scholars, describe “The history of separate schools [as] one of lost histories.”1 Similarly, the history of social institutions, like the Whatcoat Mission have largely existed on the edges of deaf history. As a result of the church’s tenuous position, and frequent relocation, the long standing and established church histories that accompany religious institutions, like the Christ United Methodist Church for the Deaf, simply do not exist. Additionally, the lack of historical evidence should be viewed in conjunction with the lower economic position of black deaf congregants: it is possible that they simply did not produce historical pamphlets and booklets to preserve these stories. Furthermore, the separation of black and deaf students in Maryland resulted in a divide between deaf people that appears to have operated into adulthood. The institutional documents that preserve the ephemeral nature of social events and gatherings, like residential school newspapers, did not capture the activities of this marginalized community. Finally, the lives and linguistic preferences of African American congregants of the Whatcoat mission do not appear to have been conducive to recording their experiences in written English. As a result, the image of the Whatcoat Mission is an incomplete one.


Sources:

Image: Photo by Dolores Baraty, (undated photo) green binder, Christ United Methodist Church for the Deaf Archives.

1. Padden and Humphries, Inside Deaf Culture, 41.