OGDEN -- Calling all those who are deaf or hard of hearing or who know sign language and are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Next week's LDS Deaf Symposium and youth conference at Weber State University is designed especially for you.
"We are thrilled to host the Deaf Symposium here in Ogden this year," said Brandon Dopf, 28, of West Haven, who serves as a counselor in the Ogden Valley LDS Deaf Branch.
The event begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday and runs until 1 p.m. Sunday.
"This is the first time the Ogden Valley deaf branch is hosting the event."
Dopf said the event is an every-other-year tradition that has been going for some time in Salt Lake City and Provo.
But Dopf said he's never been able to attend.
Now, with the event close in Ogden, he'll be a workshop presenter, and he's very excited for the chance to participate.
"It is a great opportunity for the LDS deaf members and friends to come from all over and experience this event in their own language," he said, referring to American Sign Language. "We are really excited and looking forward to this event."
Dopf is from Idaho, and he said that growing up, he missed out on the opportunity to attend church services with people who spoke American Sign Language like he does at the Ogden Valley branch in South Ogden.
"Growing up in Idaho, I did not get to meet other deaf LDS members," he said. "It's a great opportunity to meet deaf LDS members like me from all over."
And Dopf said he's also excited to share the history of the Ogden Valley branch with those who attend.
The branch was the first such LDS group formed specifically to serve deaf members.
"It is special because this is where it all started, right here in Ogden," he said.
The event will be evidence of how LDS programs for the deaf have expanded.
"We'll have international folks and people coming from across the country," said Christian Larsen, who serves as a volunteer at the Ogden Valley LDS Deaf Branch and a spokesman for the symposium.
For a complete list of workshops and events or to register, visit ldsdeafsymposium.com.
Cost is $75 for the entire conference, $25 for a Saturday-night banquet only and $10 for a Sunday lunch only.
For more information beyond what is available on the website, call or text Larsen at 360-239-3881. He said that although all workshops will be open to the public, no accommodations will be made for the those who are not hearing-impaired.
"I don't want to say, 'If you are hearing, don't come,' but we can't afford to provide interpreters," Larsen said.
However, Larsen said hearing people who don't know American Sign Language would enjoy some workshops that will be offered by hearing speakers who will be interpreted for the deaf. He said he would share a list of those workshops with people who are interested.
Highlights include a number of speakers who will provide insights into their experiences of LDS living as a deaf person or as a family member of someone who is deaf.
Speaking at a 7 p.m. Thursday fireside will be Lori Featherstone, a member of the church's Young Women general board.
The fireside will be in the chapel of the Institute of Religion.
Featherstone is the mother of six sons, three of whom are deaf.
She says her men are the light of her life.
Featherstone says she has had many sweet experiences serving in the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary auxiliaries of the Church.
Her message to all young women is: "Let your light so shine" (see Matthew 5:15).
A number of speakers will present Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. in the Shepherd Union Building ballrooms.
The keynote address will be delivered by Stephen Ehrlich, who has lived with total deaf-blindness for 23 years.
Ehrlich was born deaf and was an orphan in Brooklyn, New York. He was converted to the LDS Church at age 23. As the result of Usher syndrome type I, he became totally blind at the age of 40.
During his spare time, he is active in genealogy research, assisted by the missionaries of the Deaf Service Program at the Family History Library.
Also speaking Sunday will be Mark E. Erwin, the branch president of the Ogden Valley LDS Deaf Branch; Michael Houtz, president of the Pleasant Valley Stake and a South Ogden attorney; Sierra Mease, a junior at Davis High School who plays on a deaf basketball team; Jack R. Rose, whose resume includes work as an interpreter and Institute of Religion director at Gallaudet University following a mission to the deaf in Los Angeles; and Calvin R. Stephens, who retired from the church educational system after 37 years and now serves on the materials evaluation committee for the church.
Dopf's workshop will be offered at several times during the event.
His presentation will be on how church standards compare to worldly standards.
"It's a very challenging time right now with a lot going on," he said.
"The church helps us to know what to do to keep our lives on track, to live a happy life."