FORUM SERIES: How Does Faith Shape Your Gender Role & Identity?

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017 at 6:30p

How Does Faith Shape Your Gender Role and Identity? The Woman’s Perspective.

Though not autobiographical, there are aspects of Bekah Brunstetter’s play The Cake that resonate as deeply personal. Brunstetter who is a native North Carolinian and the daughter of devout Southern Baptists, charts with pathos and generosity her character Jen’s journey to reconcile her identity with the faith and community of her upbringing. It’s a burden disproportionately placed upon women LGBTQ individuals in our culture as they attempt to integrate their whole selves into faith traditions that have too often viewed them as second-class citizens. Join us for a conversation with women of various faiths about the complexities of gender, identity, and theology, both old and new.

Panelists include:
Parul Patel: Stay-at-Home Mom – For most of her professional career, Parul has had a front seat to watching history unfold. As a television news reporter, she has covered everything from natural disasters and presidential elections, to the impact of the wars fought abroad and the battles waged here at home. She most recently worked as a reporter for WYFF-TV. Prior to covering the Upstate and Western North Carolina, she worked for news outlets in Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville and Greenville, North Carolina. In 2014, Parul started working on a different kind of story and decided to stay home full-time to raise her son. She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in broadcast journalism. She was born and raised in Anderson.

Roann Abdeladl: Founder/Executive Director of Youth Interfaith – Roann Abdeladl is a senior at Greenville Technical Charter High School. She will be majoring in Public Health on the Pre-Med track in college next year. Within her community, she is the founder and executive director of the Youth Interfaith, which promotes inter-religious understanding among high school and college students through dialogue events and community service. She strives to combine her passion for interfaith collaboration, public health policy, and medicine to maximize her impact on her community. She is also a firm believer in the transformative power of youth voices, which is why she is an active member of her school’s Speech and Debate Team.

Susie Smith: Rev. Susie Smith holds a BA in Religion from Furman University, a M.Div from Erskine Theological Seminary and is a graduate of the Servant Leadership School of the Church of the Savior in Washington, DC where she also worked at a Shelter for Homeless Women.   She was ordained to ministry at Westminster Presbyterian Church, PCUSA here in Greenville, then served as Chaplain and an instructor in the Religion Department at Converse College.  After returning to Greenville, she worked several years at United Ministries and then as the Director of CRISISline. The North Anderson Presbyterian Church, PCUSA convinced her to return to parish ministry with their commitment to support her work on a local and national level advocating for the ordination of what the Presbyterians called “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” which was a category that included her. As part of that work she was arrested two different times in non-violent civil disobedience actions at national General Assembly meetings.  Discouraged by the lack of progress in the Presbyterian Church, Susie moved her ordination to the United Church of Christ which was the first denomination to affirm the ordination of gay ministers and the first denomination to affirm Marriage Equality. She accepted a call to become the pastor of United Christian Church in Levittown, Pennsylvania which had been one of the first churches in Pennsylvania to declare themselves an “Open and Affirming” and to call an open lesbian as a pastor.  United Christian also supported Susie’s anti-war involvement during our nation’s war in Iraq. They even sent a church member to bail her out with money from a “Bake Sale.” The only thing that could have pulled her away from United Christian was the challenge of organizing a theologically progressive, open and affirming, justice-loving congregation in Clemson, South Carolina.   After serving as the organizing pastor for Peace Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Susie retired from parish ministry. She now spends her days as a social justice advocate and “Troublemaker in Residence” here in Greenville.  Her most important achievement thus far has been not getting arrested for non-violent Civil Disobedience despite the many protests in which she has participated during the past year and the many rallies she has helped organize in support of the DACA Dreamer bill. Susie considers Triune Mercy Center as her spiritual home but is also providing Pastoral Care and preaching monthly at the Greenville Universalist Unitarian Fellowship.

Moderator for the evening will be Mallory Pellegrino, The Warehouse’s Director of Education.  As always, the Forum is free and open to all.