The seeds for the Bob Rumball organizations were planted long before Reverend Robert Lesley Rumball took up the cause. In 1872, The Ontario Mission of the Deaf was formed with the purpose of offering Sunday School classes to Deaf people in Ontario in a language they could understand. Overjoyed to finally have their language and needs recognized, the community was deeply passionate about the Mission. In 1924, after years of work, they opened the doors to their own church. The Evangelical Church of the Deaf became not merely a place to worship, but a focus point for the Deaf community where they could gather, socialize, and pray in their language.
The Ontario Mission of the Deaf was run by the Deaf, for the Deaf – but when a Deaf pastor was not available, they were quite willing to accept a hearing one. In 1956, they extended an invitation to a young former football player named Reverend Robert Rumball to fill this role. Rev. Rumball accepted the position and became their strongest advocate.
Frequently, as a hearing pastor, he was called upon to act as the ears and voice of church members in legal, social and medical situations. This made Rev. Rumball painfully aware of the challenges, prejudices and discrimination his deaf friends so often faced. Determined to help, Rev. Rumball went to the Deaf community and asked them what they most wanted, and how he could help.
Their overwhelming answer: SPACE OF OUR OWN
Rev. Rumball had his mission, and so he and the Deaf parishioners began a fundraising campaign to construct a community centre specifically catering to the Deaf. In 1979 they opened the doors to the multi-purpose Bob Rumball Centre for the Deaf, which has offered a home to the Deaf Community and provided programs and services to those requiring support for over 30 years.