Like a Kid at Christmas: Blind Worship Director Finally Has the Braille Resources He Needs
By: Sherri Gragg
Called to Worship
“Worship is everything,” said Dominic Bray, Contemporary Worship Leader of Winterfield, UMC, Longview.
Bray has always felt closest to God during worship, whether he is on stage leading worship during the Contemporary Service at Winterfield, or alone with his guitar. Serving as a worship leader is incredibly fulfilling for Bray. When he first began leading worship at Winterfield, the congregation was hesitant, timid to sing along. Now, each Sunday when Bray lifts his voice in praise, he is surrounded by the joyful voices of his fellow church members.
One might say, worship is in Bray’s blood. His grandfather and grandmother are in his worship band. His grandmother is the keyboardist. His grandfather plays bass.
It must be an incredible blessing for the Reverend Steven Newcomb to have someone like Bray on staff who is so clearly living out his calling from God. It is undeniably equally frustrating that Bray, who is blind, has had so few ministry tools to fulfill that calling.
“I have often had to self-braille my music,” Bray said. “It is extremely limiting.”
Equipping Bray to Serve
Newcomb was determined to get Bray the resources he needed, but when he began checking into the cost of a braille “United Methodist Hymnal” as well as “Faith We Sing,” he discovered the price tag was far more than Winterfield’s budget allowed. “The hymnal was $330.00,” Newcomb said; one braille copy of Faith We Sing was $210.00. When I saw how much they cost, I thought there had to be financial resources available to meet the need.”
Newcomb made a call to his District Superintendent, the Rev. Chuck Huffman, to ask for help. Huffman reached out to the Rev. Dr. Bill Newcomb, Chairperson of the Committee on Disabilities. Newcomb ultimately received funding for the braille resources from Heartspring Methodist Foundation.
The hymnal, and “Faith We Sing,” are fairly small volumes in the original print versions. In braille, however, each volume fills multiple large notebooks. When the large cardboard boxes containing the resources arrived at Winterfield, Bray felt like a child on Christmas morning.
A Precious Gift
Bray was a voracious reader and a visual learner before losing his sight four years ago. Although he often uses audio sources to meet his needs, he especially treasures braille materials. “There is something special about being able to read to myself,” he said, “to be able to hold it in my own two hands.” Bray would love to have a braille Bible, but only has two of the sixty-six books so far. He finds himself a bit overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who worked together to provide him with his new braille music.
Newcomb is thankful too. “It must be terrible to know you don’t have the resources that everyone else has to do your job,” Newcomb said. “If we didn’t have groups like the Committee on Disabilities and Heartspring to help fund these things, those resources would remain out of reach.”