Many non-professional interpreters volunteer their services in church and religious settings to give Deaf congregants access to the message. Church interpreting has been a unique way many interpreters have gained interest into the profession and entered the interpreting field. Although they continue to volunteer in religious settings on a regular basis out of a sense of calling and act of service (Berg, Grant, & Johnson, 2010; Hokkanen, 2014), according to the literature, interpreters in their first 10 years of work choose benevolence as their number one value for entering the interpreting field (Ramirez-Loudenback, 2015). Often that desire to help and provide a service precedes the knowledge and skills to provide the services of interpreting, which leads to a problem of “church interpreters” having a negative stigma within professional certified interpreting circles (James, 1998). There is interpreting work to be done in religious environments; this need creates a setting in which novice interpreters can gain practice. In this study, I collected quantitative and qualitative data to provide an accurate depiction of the professional interpreters who are working in these settings, their church environments, their stories of pursuing professionalism, the reasons for their pursuit, their experiences with professional interpreters, and their motivation for continuing to work in religious settings. These data could help the interpreting profession develop a greater awareness of the connection and mentorship gap between certified interpreters and volunteer interpreters working in religious settings and discover ways to partner in creating a cohesive environment to facilitate professional development.

Exit Requirement


Date of Award

Spring 6-15-2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies


Deaf Studies/Professional Studies

Committee Chair

Amanda R. Smith

Committee Member

Elisa Maroney

Committee Member

Vicki Darden


Church Interpreting, Religious Interpreting, Deaf Ministry, Non-professional Interpreting, Professional Interpreter, Signed Language Interpreter



Type (DCMI Terms)


Subject Categories

Education | Other Languages, Societies, and Cultures

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Additional Files

JK_ThesisApproval.pdf (234 kB)
Thesis Approval



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