Comparative Religion

Temple Beth El Presents its 17th Annual Comparative Religion Series
“EVIL   …   Human or Divine?”
Tuesday Evenings January 21 – February 25, 2014,  7:00 – 9:00 pm at Temple Beth El

CHARLOTTE, NC – Why does evil exist?  Temple Beth El’s 17th Annual Comparative Religion Series will explore the roots of evil and the ever changing face of evil in our world.  Temple Beth El’s Comparative Religion Committee invites the entire community to attend this series that seeks to understand the religious perspectives on the question: “EVIL   …   Human or Divine?”
This January and February, educators and religious leaders representing nine Charlotte area faiths will discuss their faith’s perspectives on the topic of EVIL.  Our guest lecturers will provide compelling answers to such questions as:  How is evil defined in your faith’s theology?  Is evil necessary?  Is “free will” responsible for evil or is evil preordained?  Has there been a theological evolution in your faith’s concept of evil?  When confronted with evil, how are one’s actions and responses guided by their faith? 
The public is invited to join us at Temple Beth El (5101 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC 28226).  Sessions will run from 7:00 to 9:00 PM on six consecutive Tuesday evenings, beginning January 21, 2014.  Educators and religious leaders representing Judaism, Greek Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Mennonite, Baha’i, Islam, Unitarian/Universalism, and Evangelical Christianity will offer their perspectives and respond to your questions on the topic “EVIL   …   Human or Divine?”

Judy Schindler, Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth El, and Chanoch Oppenheim, Rabbi and Director of the Charlotte Torah Center, will provide an introduction to the Series on January 21st, which will deepen our understanding of the course of study, and will encourage us to engage in thought-provoking discussions with our guest lecturers throughout the Series.

Schedule of Speakers:

  • January 28:       Snow Date
  • February 4:      Tamar Myers, Daughter of former African Mennonite Missionaries – Mennonite perspective
                           See speaker bio below
  • February 11:    Snow Date
  • February 18:      Reverend Robin Tanner, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church–Unitarian/Universalist perspective. See speaker bio below
  • February 25:      Pastor Mike Moses, Lake Forest Church- Evangelical Christian perspective
  • March 4:           Father Steve Dalber, St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church–Greek Orthodox perspective
                            Father Patrick Hoare, St. John Neumann Catholic Church - Cathollic Perspective

  • March 18:          Representative James Pitts, The Baha'i Community of Charlotte, NC -Baha'i Perspective
                             Sam Wazan, Author of Trapped in Four Square Miles- Islamic Perspective

This year’s program has been planned by the Temple Beth El Comparative Religion Committee and is offered at no cost to the public. Sandra Gold Weinstein, a long time Temple Beth El member, has been a fan of the Comparative Religion Series and other community programs we host. She has established the Sandra Gold Weinstein Fund for Community Hospitality to provide refreshments to our guests at various Temple programs to which we invite the community at large.  Donations made be made to this fund by making checks payable to Temple Beth El- Sandra Gold Weinstein Fund for Community Hospitality or by clicking here

Father Patrick T. Hoare, Pastor of St. John Neumann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC
March 4, 2014
     Father Patrick T. Hoare is a native of Willow Grove, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia.  He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from LaSalle University and worked for 14 years for Liberty Mutual Group, ultimately serving as Vice President of Underwriting for Montgomery Insurance, a Liberty Mutual subsidiary.  His career at Liberty Mutual brought him to his adopted home, Charlotte.  Through his 13+ years as a volunteer Youth Minister, Fr. Pat discerned a call to ordained ministry.  He left Liberty Mutual in 2002 to enter seminary.  Ordained a priest in 2007, he served for two years as Parochial Vicar at St. Mark Catholic Church in Huntersville, NC.  In 2009, he was appointed Pastor of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Charlotte. 

Reverend Doctor Mike Moses, Lead Pastor, Lake Forest Church, Huntersville NC
February 25, 2014  
     Reverend Mike is the founding pastor of Lake Forest Church which began with 42 adults on October 18, 1998 in a skating rink, where he preached under a disco ball.  Lake Forest has grown to a church of 1,500-2,000 people in three Lake Norman area campuses (Huntersville, Davidson and Denver), and is known for its mission activity in the community and around the world, as well as a singular focus on following Jesus. 
    Reverend Mike earned a BA in history from the College of William & Mary and a Masters in Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. He completed the Arrow Leadership Program under Leighton Ford. He was awarded his Doctorate in Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2007, where he now teaches a class on Church Multiplication & Growth. He serves on many Boards including:  Children’s Impact Network, Bolivia Life Center, Cochabamba, Bolivia, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Advisory Board – Charlotte Campus, Evangelical Presbyterian Church: Church Multiplication, and others.

Reverend Robin Tanner, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, Charlotte, NC
February 18, 2014
     Originally from upstate New York, Rev. Robin Tanner now serves as the minister of the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church in Charlotte.  Prior to moving to Charlotte, she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she completed a year-long chaplain residency at Presbyterian Hospital.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Religious Studies from the University of Rochester; and earned her Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, where she was awarded the Williams Fellowship. She was ordained as a Minister in December 2009 and was called to serve at the Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church in 2010. Her interests in liberal religion focus on interpersonal trauma, theologies of healing and grappling with evil. 

Sam Wazan, Author, "Last Moderate Muslim"  Charlotte, NC
March 18, 2014 
     Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Sam Wazan now stars as an American Inspirational Speaker, Author, Business Consultant, Volunteer, and Co-Host of the WGIV radio show, Start Something.
To the age of 15 Sam received his education at a Saudi Arabian Funded Islamic school.  Starting at 10, when civil war broke out, he survived for fifteen-years inside a combat zone surrounded by sniper fire, rocket attacks, and religious massacres. 
     In 1985, pursuing a BS degree in Lebanon, Wazan represented Muslims on the Lebanese National Universities basketball team.  He played in the world-universities championship in Kobe, Japan, where he saw a world in harmony.
After two years, he joined a Christian club, becoming the first to cross the religious barrier in war-torn Lebanon.
     In 1989, Sam negotiated battle fields to apply for a US visa at the America Embassy in Damascus, Syria.  Four days later he arrived to Chicago, IL with $600 in his pocket.  In 1995, he earned MBA degrees from the University of Dallas and MIT.  In 2000, he founded an Information Technology firm, which he sold in 2005.  In 2009, Wazan resigned from a prestigious position to write his personally inspired novel, Trapped in Four Square Miles.  The novel hit top 40 overall ranking and #1 in 2 categories on Amazon. 

James Pitts, Representative of the Baha’i Community, Charlotte, NC
March 18, 2014
     James Pitts joined the Charlotte Baha’i Community in 1992, and a Charlotte resident since 1991.  He is currently working in collaboration with members of the local community to promote spiritual education programs for young people- namely the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program, and neighborhood based children’s classes.
In recent years James has served as a volunteer with the National Conference for Community Justice,   and has worked with the 100 Black Men of Charlotte’s mentoring program.  James has served as a board member for Mecklenburg Ministries, and is involved with United Religions Initiative.
     Having grown up in Seneca, South Carolina, James attended nearby Clemson University before completing his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration at Winthrop University. While employed with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, James initiated student organizations at Independence and Olympic High Schools which encouraged students to become informed about issues of social injustice, and to become empowered to address these issues directly. 

Tamar Myers, Daughter of African Mennonite Missionaries and Accomplished Author

February 4, 2014
     Tamar Myers was born and raised a Mennonite. Her maternal ancestors can be traced back to the beginnings of the Amish and Mennonite divide in Europe, and she is a direct descendant of the first Amish bishop in America. As an American Mennonite Pastor, Tamar’s father and her mother were sent to Africa as missionaries, where she and her siblings spent much of their youth. Tamar holds a B.A. in Comparative World Literature and a Master's Degree in Education. She is the author of 45 bestselling novels, the majority of which are set within an Amish-Mennonite community.

Father Steve Dalber- St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church, Charlotte, NC

March 4, 2014
     Father Steve received his Master of Divinity degree in May 1994, and was ordained on December 4, 1994. From the time of his ordination through May 1995, he served at Saint George Cathedral in Manchester, New Hampshire. Father Steve then served as Assistant Priest and Youth Director at Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Newport News, Virginia, until October 1998, when he joined the Saint Nektarios community in Charlotte. 

The annual Comparative Religion Series was established 17 years ago with the intent to educate our community, promote understanding and respect for all faiths, and reveal the commonalities in our differences. For more information, please visit or call Temple Beth El at 704-366-1948.

Temple Beth El is a welcoming and spiritual Reform congregation, providing opportunities for all those who wish to engage in Jewish life through prayer, study and social action, while supporting each other in times of joy and sorrow. With 1,000 member families, Temple Beth El is the largest Reform Jewish congregation in the Carolinas.