• "...to bring good news to the poor... proclaim release to the captives... let the oppressed go free..."
  • (Luke 4:18-19)
  • EVENTS:

    VME Bios

    Rev. Carol McVetty
    Rev. Carol McVetty has been an ordained American Baptist pastor for 36 years. She is currently the Interim Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago, a position she shares with her husband, Rev. Douglas Harris. She began her ministry as pastor of a small rural church in Upstate New York. Then she and her husband became co-pastors of the First Baptist Church of Detroit, leading that congregation in a ministry of racial reconciliation for 12 years. In June 2016 she retired from North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago after 20 years serving that multi-cultural congregation as English Language Pastor. She has been a regular participant in an interfaith dialogue series, “Sacred Seeds,” sponsored by the religious leaders of the Edgewater neighborhood in Chicago. In 2013 she traveled with other American Baptist women leaders to Lebanon and the Republic of Georgia to observe Baptist-Muslim cooperation and dialogue in those countries. Rev. McVetty is the mother of two grown daughters. She loves gardening, curling up with a good book, and long walks with a rambunctious golden retriever.
     
    Taalibah Hassan
    Taalibah Hassan, M.Ed., has been a guest speaker on Islam since the 1980’s, and is an experienced interfaith dialogue facilitator. She co-authored the chapter “Dialogue as A Way to Know the Other” in the book Faithful Neighbors, Christian-Muslim Vision & Practice. Taalibah serves on the board of directors of the Muslim Association of Virginia, which has the largest mosque in Prince William County. The Muslim Association of Virginia not only oversees the daily, Friday Congregational, and Holiday Eid prayers, but also Qur’an classes and has both Boy and Girl Scout troops. The Association has a variety of programs that support the religious and social needs of the community of more than three thousand people. She also chairs the Interfaith committee that holds several programs each year to educate people about Islam and Muslims. Taalibah has a Graduate Certificate in Muslim-Christian Studies from the Washington Theological Consortium. She is currently enrolled at Hartford Seminary in the Imam and Muslim Community Leadership Certificate program. She is a retired Biology teacher and resides in Dale City with her husband of forty years and has two adult children.


    Dr. Safiya Saaman
    Dr. Saaman recently retired as director of the Conservation Education program of the U.S. Forest Service, which included active and wide-ranging programs that reached more than four-million children and their educators each year. Dr. Samman received her Ph.D. in genetics and has worked in the natural resources field for more than 30-years. This professional field enhanced her appreciation of the harmony and beauty of the creation of God. Her scientific journey led her to a life of involvement in the Muslim communities wherever she has resided. Dr. Saaman founded the Islamic weekend school in the Sacramento area, which was the beginning of an accredited full-time school. She also leads study seminars (Halaqas) for sisters and their daughters. From 1998 to the present, living in Virginia, she founded Islamic studies and Quran recitation, tajweed (pronunciation), and the meaning and lessons learned from the Quran, for sisters and their young daughters. She is also vice principle of the after-school-Islamic studies program in Dar-Alnoor Islamic Community Center (Manassas, VA), and the chairperson for the Sisters' Affairs Committee. From 2001–2005, Dr. Saaman studied at the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America with many renowned scholars.


    Rev. Dr. Suzanne Kershaw
    Rev. Dr. Kershaw is associate minister of Grace Baptist Church in Germantown, Pennsylvania, and is president of the American Baptist Women's Ministries of the Philadelphia Baptist Association. She received her D.Min. from Lutheran Theological Seminary in May of 2016, with a focus on strengthening and reviving ministry with women in the Philadelphia area. In October, she gave a presentation from her D.Min project research which focused on women's ministries to the national officers of American Baptist Women's Ministries and AB Girls National Leadership Team. Dr. Kershaw was also recently featured in "My Baptist Life".


    Marcia Street
    Marcia Street has lived in Iowa all her life but has traveled to all states starting as a small child. Now she can claim traveling to over 40 countries as well. She was an elementary school teacher which became her first mission field. She has been on many short-term mission trips starting with work trips to Costa Rica in 1995, a year after her husband died. Marcia shares that all of these trips were to study, work with, and experience life where Baptist missionaries are doing their ministry. She states that she never tires of learning about other people groups and their beliefs. She feels her calling is also interceding for them, and she frequents a near-by house of prayer to be part of a praying community. Her knowledge of the Muslim religion expanded during her time in Lebanon and the Republic of Georgia and continues with interfaith events in her community. She looks forward to sharing with her fellow sisters during this Muslim/ Christian dialogue.


    Munira A. El Bearny
    Munira Abdulhalim El-Bearny is the founder/developer and executive director of IMANI Multicultural Center, chief administrator of Islamic UMMAH of Fredericksburg, and Interfaith Chaplain. Born in Kenya, Munira came to the U.S. in 1988 after completing her American university education in Business Administration & International Affairs. Her multicultural background—African and Arab descent, fluency in English and Kiswahili—and her calling to serve God and humanity energizes Munira’s passion for empowering refugees and humanity with their skills and confidence to succeed thru faith, trust, respect and compassion. Since 2006, Munira has embraced her calling in many ways: serving as the Fredericksburg Area Refugee Coordinator and Fredericksburg Area Food Bank chairperson; starting the IMANI Multicultural Center; performing as a translator, interpreter and chaplain at Mary Washington Hospital; and serving on the Fredericksburg Interfaith Community Council, FAITH – Fredericksburg Interfaith Leaders; and performing innumerable acts of kindness. Her many accomplishments in the service of others have been featured in Fredericksburg.com, The Free-Lance Star, New York Times, Washington Post, several TV stations, and The Steve Harvey Show. In addition, Munira co-wrote a chapter with Pastor Gay Rahn of St. Georges Episcopal Church entitled “Caring for Others” in the recently published Faithful Neighbors, Christian-Muslim Vision & Practice.  One reporter noted, “If it can be done—Munira will make sure it gets done! Munira succeeds in everything she chooses to do because of her strong IMAN – Deep Unquestionable Faith in Allah/The Creator.”


    Rafiya Syeed
    Rafia Syeed is a leader of interfaith dialogue and the founder of “Bridging the Gap: Connecting the Faithful.”(www.btgweb.org)


    Rev. Elizabeth B. Congdon
    Rev. Elizabeth Congdon has been involved in interfaith dialogue as Board member and then Co-coordinator of the Monmouth Center for World Religions and Ethical Thought for the past twelve years. She helped create and now implement the Garden State MOSAIC (Mobilizing Our Students for Action in building Interfaith Community), currently working with 60 youth from eight different faiths. Students are also currently establishing local school Teens Against Intolerance (TAI) groups. They greatly appreciated a peace grant from the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America for MOSAIC. Liz was part of the first American Baptist sponsored Baptist-Muslim dialogue journey to the Republic of Georgia and was on the team again in 2016. She has also been part of mission trips to the Philippines, Haiti, Rwanda (three times), Egypt, Lebanon, Thailand, Malaysia, and an AB Women’s Ministries mission trip to the American Southwest. She has retired as senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Trenton, NJ; retired from ABCUSA of New Jersey region staff as part-time Minister of New Church Development; and has also retired as state worker and clinical nursing and, joyfully, you never retire from ministry! Liz is the mother of four daughters, and grandmother of one granddaughter and three grandsons.
     

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