Hailing from Virginia Beach, I am an educator, minister, playwright, dramaturg, and director committed to serving communities in various capacities from theatre to ministry to mentorship to education to career development. I am an associate minister at New Hope Baptist Church in Virginia Beach. Until most recently, I was the Youth Minister at Love Cathedral Community Church in Richmond, VA. I am an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. I was also the CEO and founder of a faith-based non-profit youth theatre education organization, Perfect Love Community Youth Theatre for two-and-a- half years. This organization focuses on work with middle school students. Out of this work, my thesis was birthed. It focused on my unique program design, Courageous Solstice: Reconstructing Fairy Tales for a Black Youth Aesthetic. I hold an M.F.A. in Theatre Pedagogy from VCU with the concentration in Dramatic Literature and Dramaturgy, M.Div from STVU, and a B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary. I completed a Youth and Theology certificate program from the Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary. I am currently a Writing and Rhetoric PhD student at George Mason University focusing on the intersection of Hip Hop Pedagogy and Community Building.
Dr. Denise Janssen
Dr. Denise Janssen is the project manager for STREAM YTI, having directed the program for the 2016 summer institute. She is associate professor of Christian Education at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. Dr. Janssen teaches courses in the Master of Arts in Christian Education and Master of Divinity programs, and she crafts foundation proposals and manages grants at the School of Theology. Additionally, she is executive director of The Resource Center and serves as a pastor at a small membership United Methodist congregation. Dr. Janssen is the author of numerous articles and presentations as well as three books: Fostering Faith: Teaching and Learning in the Christian Church, Reclaimed: Faith in an Emerging Generation, and Educating for Redemptive Community: Essays in Honor of Jack Seymour and Margaret Ann Crain. She has served as pastor of American Baptist and United Methodist congregations, and as a youth minister for two decades. Her first career was in professional fundraising. Dr. Janssen earned a dual B.A. in English and Religious Studies from the University of Sioux Falls, an M.Div. from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Ph.D. in Christian Education and Congregational Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She is an ordained American Baptist pastor. Dr. Janssen is passionate about companioning youth in their life and faith transitions into young adulthood, and about helping congregations consider their next most faithful steps through strategic discernment and visioning.
Dr. Lakisha Lockhart
I am gregarious playful scholar activist and Associate Professor of Practical Theology at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. I consider myself a mid-southern lady, being from Columbus, GA by way of Waynesville, MO. I received my B.A. from Claflin University, M.Div. with a concentration in Pastoral Care & Counseling from Wesley Theological Seminary, M.A. in Ethics & Society from Vanderbilt University, and Ph.D in Theology and Education from Boston College. My doctoral research focuses on womanish modes of play as a pedagogical tool for theological education. These playful tools can provide a space for agency and embodied identity for both adults and young people. I had the pleasure of serving as youth minister at Sightseeing Road Chapel in Columbus, GA where I was able to live into one of my gifts and passions of helping young people find God in themselves, and see how their own gifts and talents can transform the world. I not only believe in the power of play, movement, aesthetics, embodiment, and the creative arts in theology, but I actively advocate for the importance of the body as a locus of doing theology. So, come be a part of STREAM YTI; and, let's do theology and life together!
Yohance D. Whitaker is a religious historian and theologian. His research focuses on utilizing the sacred cultures of nineteenth and twentieth African peoples to inform contemporary political, social, and religious movements. He believes that history and religion can evoke liberative power to create a free human society in this world. He claims that the task of history and religion is to help individuals and communities understand reality and transform the unfolding histories of the world.
Whitaker is a M. Div. student at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. He is the recipient of numerous academic scholarships, including the Barry T. Young Scholarship and Jeremiah & Mary Wright Scholarship. Whitaker earned his A.B. in government from William & Mary. He was named a Sharpe Community Scholar, Leadership & Community Engagement Fellow, and Jane & Michael Powell Leadership Scholar. Yohance Whitaker serves as the program assistant for STREAM Youth Theology Institute, where he empowers youth to partner with God in the creation of a free world. Other leadership and professional service roles he has held include serving as president of the William & MaryStudent Assembly, student representative to the Board of Visitors at William & Mary, and advisory committee member at the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia.