The first Deaf Seventh-day Adventist Church was officially organized into the sisterhood of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America on Sabbath, April 9, 2005. The new name of the Deaf Church is Southern Deaf Fellowship of Seventh-day Adventists.
Through the internet, Southern Deaf Fellowship hopes to minister to thousands of Deaf people in the greater Atlanta area, as well as Deaf people throughout the Southern Union and around the world.
Over eighty people came to the Youth Chapel at the Atlanta North Church of Seventh-day Adventists to witness the historic event. Some officers from the SDA Church were present to show their support: Debra Brill, vice-president of the North American Division; Ward Sumpter and Richard Center of the Southern Union; Rosemary Graham of the South Atlantic Conference; Ed Wright, new President of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, along with Stan Patterson, Vice President of the Ministerial Department, Paul Hoover, Ministerial Director for the central region, Martin Knopper of the Communication Department, and Linda Leonard, Secretary to VP for Pastoral Ministries.
Gordon Meis was ordained as the first deaf elder for the Southern Deaf Fellowship. Donna Jo Salhany was elected as the treasurer/clerk.
After the inspiring sermon by president Ed Wright, Elder Ward Sumpter gave the history of the establishment of the Southern Deaf Fellowship. He said that a historic event took place when all 8 conference presidents in the Southern Union voted to allow the Deaf living anywhere in the Southern Union to join the Southern Deaf Fellowship and send their tithe and offerings to SDF. This has never happened before.
The Deaf and hearing members who were there had an opportunity to sign up as charter (start up) members. A total of 34 Deaf and hearing members signed up as charter members. Hearing members are also welcome to join the Deaf Church.
At the end of the service, Elders Ed Wright and Stan Patterson presented a plague that welcomed SDF as the 145th church in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.