From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Methodist church assists Lutheran Braille Bible work

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.UMC.ORG>
Date 14 Apr 2000 14:20:07

April 14, 2000  News media contact: Tim Tanton·(615)742-5470·Nashville,
Tenn.     10-71BP{199}

NOTE: A photograph is available with this report.

By Woody Woodrick*

POPLARVILLE, Miss. (UMNS) - A local United Methodist church has become the
first in the denomination to be designated an official work center for
Lutheran Braille Workers Inc.

Poplarville United Methodist Church is Work Center No. 205 in the United
States and the seventh such center in Mississippi. Lutheran Braille Workers
is a non-profit organization based in Yucaipa, Calif. With the help of 7,000
volunteers, it provides Braille Bibles and other Christian materials free of
charge to visually impaired people around the world.

The Poplarville volunteers are producing Braille versions of the books of
Daniel and Ezekiel for inclusion in the Spanish Bible Dios Habla Hoy. In
addition, they will soon produce three volumes of a Bible study for
children, again in Spanish. Most recently, they were asked to produce the
book of Matthew in Burmese.

Anne Dauenhauer is the driving force behind the work center. A native of
Poplarville, Dauenhauer majored in Spanish in college. Over the years she
worked with Lutheran Braille Workers formatting and proofreading Spanish
language Bibles. She returned to Poplarville in 1972 with her husband,
Chuck, and worked at a center in nearby Bogalusa, La., for a while. She then
began exploring the possibility of starting a center in Poplarville.

"After we began coming to church here, I began Brailling but had no
involvement in the center," Anne Dauenhauer said. She missed that
involvement. Then, she said, "I checked the list of centers and noticed
there were none in Methodist churches."

The Rev. Walter Goldsmith, pastor of Poplarville United Methodist Church,
encouraged her to pursue setting up a center, so she called the Lutheran
Braille Workers' headquarters in California for approval.

Goldsmith said he liked the idea from the start. "I thought it was a
fantastic idea. I thought it was a good opportunity to have an extended
ministry beyond our walls.

"This church has always been amazing in its response to need," he said.
"They rose to the need better than I thought."

The whole Poplarville community has responded. While housed in the youth
building of a United Methodist church, the 45 volunteers come from a variety
of denominations. They include Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, Baptists
and members of other denominations.

"They (Lutheran Braille Workers) said we needed eight to 10 people to work a
shift, and we hoped to have two shifts," Goldsmith said. "We have 40 to 45
volunteers and have three shifts."

Edna Johnson is one of the volunteers. "My father (W.P. George) was a blind
United Methodist minister," she said as she operated the press. "He could
read Braille.

"Everybody has been real enthusiastic," she said. "When you realize how you
can reach out for Jesus through this, it doesn't take much convincing (to
get involved)."

"I've always wanted to do something real big for my Lord. Now, I'm punching
holes," Olive Gorman, a Lutheran volunteer, said with a laugh, "but it's
doing something for God." 

Gorman was using a machine to punch holes in the paper for pages. "I'm
thankful for the opportunity to do it," she said. "Anne called me and asked
if I was interested. I thought it was a wonderful opportunity and wanted to
get involved."

Getting a work center started takes about $3,000. The Dauenhauers donated
much of the equipment in memory of her parents, Dr. James B. and Rosa Davis.
During the 1940s, Dr. Davis served on the board of what was then known as
the Mississippi School for the Deaf, which also served the blind, Dauenhauer

Producing the books is a multistep process. It began with Dauenhauer
formatting the Spanish Bible into Braille. After the translation had been
proofread several times, Lutheran Braille Workers pressed the books of
Daniel and Ezekiel into zinc plates and shipped them to Poplarville.

When the work teams gather - on Wednesday and Thursday mornings and Thursday
evenings - they:

· cut the pages, which are supplied by Lutheran Braille Workers;
· number the pages;
· place the paper on the plate for that page;
· place the plate inside an aluminum jacket;
· insert the jacket in the press, developed by the organization, which works
on the same principle as an old-time washing machine ringer;
· remove the now-pressed pages from the jacket and place on the binder;
· bind a complete book;
· check each book for errors; and
· ship books directly to the recipients.

The volunteers produce between 10 and 17 books per session, for about 150
per month. 
The books are sent all over the world. Some go to recipients in the United
States. Others go to Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and even Cuba. One
recipient lives in France.

Goldsmith said reaching out to share the word of God with people around the
world appeals to the volunteers. "The thing that impressed me most was
something Anne said: In some cases, where we're sending these Bibles, the
blind may be the only people with a Bible. They will become the spiritual

# # #

* Woodrick is editor of the Mississippi United Methodist Advocate, the
newspaper of the Mississippi Annual Conference.


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