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Student of the Month: SueAnn Shiah

SueAnn Shiah (@sueannshiah) is a Taiwanese American musician, filmmaker, community organizer, ethnomusicologist, and public theologian specializing in identity formation, racial justice, gender, and sexuality. Her first feature length documentary HuanDao follows her journey of discovery, identity, and belonging in a two week bike trip around Taiwan. She released her debut solo album of reclaimed hymns, “A Liturgy for the Perseverance of the Saints” in June 2018. In 2020, she joined the leadership team and editorial board of Taiwan’s New Bloom Magazine and became a columnist for News Lens International. In addition to her own creative and theological works, she collaborates with others in a variety of capacities as an artist manager, producer, audio engineer, songwriter, podcast producer, and creator of liturgy. She has a B.B.A. in Music Business with a Production emphasis and a Chinese minor from Belmont University, a Masters of Arts in Musicology from National Taiwan University, and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and ordination in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

What are you studying and what excites you in your studies? How will you use that in your call?

I have enjoyed my study of Biblical languages in deepening my understanding of the social, political, and historical contexts of the people in and writing the Bible, connecting it to my art and political activism contemporarily. So far, my intimacy with Scripture has been a powerful part of my pastoral work amongst people from a variety of racial, religious, ethnic, and national groups, especially my activism and pastoral care in LGBTQ communities in North America and Asia.

What have you learned from your leadership experiences?

More often than not, sharing with people that their questions, struggles, hopes, and despairs are not new but can be found in the Bible and other people going back thousands of years has been able to be a comfort to those I work alongside and minister to. But more than that, I am most excited by the way I see the Bible re-embodied in new contexts with new and deeper meanings as I live out my faith in the world. The witness of the many I’ve met in my life as an artist and an activist has pulled me closer to my faith, and I hope that I can share those with other Christians, so they can experience the edification that I have too.

What has your experience been with PANAAWTM? My friend Angie Hong has been encouraging me to get involved for years, I finally was able to attend my first in person conference this past spring in San Diego. I hope to keep building community with others with similar interests and work as me, so that we can support each other to serve and deepen the resources that are available to our communities.

What brings you hope and joy?

This summer, I have been working at the Farminary at Princeton Theological Seminary and growing a lot of my own in the community garden. Being able to connect with the earth, to grow, nurture, and harvest has been giving me much hope and joy. Even more, sharing the fruits of that bounty has increased my joy many fold.

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