Hartford Seminary

NURTURING Faiths: The Intersection of Motherhood and Religion

Cyma Shapiro headshot 2014

Join this lively panel featuring six women of differing faiths as they discuss the intersection of motherhood and religion, giving nod to both historical roots and relevance in contemporary society.

“NURTURING Faiths: The Intersection of Motherhood and Religion” will explore the roots of the female, maternal and feminine spiritual figures in six religions/doctrines. In addition to providing a historical perspective, the evening will feature a Q&A session focusing on how the complex and changing mores of the 21st century are leading to a redefinition of the family model and a reorganization of the religious response to this.

The panel discussion will be moderated by author Cyma Shapiro whose art gallery show, NURTURE: Stories of New Midlife Mothers, is currently on display at the Seminary.

The panelists include:

Donna Gordon has served as the Cantor of Temple Sinai in Newington, CT, since 2001.  She holds a BA in Music Education from the University of Maine, and received her Cantorial Certification from The American Conference of Cantors and The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City.  In her position as Cantor, she is responsible for all music during religious prayer and for all music in the religious school curriculum.  She teaches Torah Study, Jewish music, Bar and Bat Mitzvah lessons, and Biblical Hebrew to young and old alike.  She is also honored to officiate at life-cycle events including Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, and funerals.  Cantor Gordon regularly participates in inter-faith programs in Newington and on the CCSU campus. She is passionate about speaking out against the repression and oppression of women’s education and voices, not only in her own faith, but also all around the world.  Donna has been married to her husband and best friend, Max Gordon for 32 years.  Together they have two adult sons, Kasey, of West Hartford, and Matthew, of Tel Aviv, Israel.

The Rev. Bridget Fidler is the Sr. Minister of First Church of Christ, Congregational, United Church of Christ in Suffield, CT. She is the mother of two grown children, Gwyneth and Jack.  She is active in the Greater Suffield Interfaith Council and is a Corporator at Hartford Seminary.  She is married to the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Lee, Director of Institutional Advancement, Hartford Seminary.

Pastor Stacie Harris Byrdsong is currently the Pastor of New Generation Christian Center Church in Hartford. A native of Windsor, Pastor Stacie graduated from Windsor High School in 1988 and went on to continue her education at Saint Joseph’s and Northeastern. Pastor Stacie works for the Capitol Region Education Council. Among her other involvements include working as an Advisor for the Windsor Police Cadets, President of her local Union AFSCME local 1303-132, a mentor for the AFSCME Women’s Leadership Academy. She loves to advocate for children with special needs and disabilities, and is a former foster and adoptive parent. In 1996, she married the love of her life and is the proud mother of five children and two furry babes, Brooklyn and Bronx.

Malou G. Dusyn is an ordained lay Buddhist Minister, a certified Pastoral Counselor, and Mind-Body-Energy Medicine Therapist. A student and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism for 30+ years with masters from Tibet, her work is a synthesis of eastern, western, and contemporary approaches to personal and spiritual development. She has traveled numerous times to Kathmandu, Nepal, to further her training and engage in spiritual retreats at Buddhist monasteries and nunneries.  Currently, she is Co-Director of Hartford KTC Tibetan Buddhist Meditation and Study Center, and Board Chairperson of Tara Shedrup, Inc. Dharma Center; and Founder of Menla Holistic Health, a Wellness Healthcare facility located in Hartford, and St. Francis Care in Avon, Connecticut.

Hana Saleh was born in Los Angeles and raised in Orange County, CA. She is the third of nine children. She has been married and living in Connecticut for 18 years. Hana is a homeschooling mother for three of her five children; the oldest will begin college this fall.  Although raised as a Palestinian Muslim American, Hana discovered her true journey to Islam as a young adult. She is pursuing a degree in psychology and special education. Hana recently joined Pioneer Valley Project which helps citizens of our society have a voice against oppression of many forms. She is also a member of the Greater Suffield Interfaith Council.

Debbie Humphries is a member of Hartford Monthly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends.  She carries a concern for the strength and vitality for the group, and actively ministers among Quakers in New England and beyond.  Debbie has two sons, now ages 17 and 19, who were 2 and 4 yrs old when she experienced a call to Quaker ministry.  Debbie has served in a number of leadership positions within Hartford Monthly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting.  She has also co-facilitated a number of interactive workshops around topics such as cross-cultural communication, deepening worship, and prophetic ministry.  Professionally Debbie works in the area of practice-based research and the interaction between nutrition and infectious disease.

Moderator Cyma Shapiro is the writer/creator of NURTURE: Stories of New Midlife Mothers, the first and only art gallery show dedicated to women choosing motherhood over 40, the blogsite, www.MotheringintheMiddle.com, for all-things midlife mothers, and the recently published book, The Zen of Midlife Mothering. An online contributor to many sites including Huffington Post, a speaker and lecturer whose work has been featured on NPR and on numerous national and international radio shows, Cyma is passionate about supporting women and men who choose later parenthood, and giving them a face, voice, and forum. She is the mother of 9- and 11-year-old children and 28 and 30-year-old stepchildren.

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