Directors and staff from LYTN programs gathered in Indianapolis February 3-5, 2016 for the annual LYTN Consultation. This year’s focus invited attendees to explore effective practices of engaging Scripture with youth. During the consultation, Dr. Anne Wimberly received LYTN’s Prophet of Hope Recognition. Below is the text from her introduction, as well as the citation for the recognition.
Introduction of Dr. Wimberly presented by Dr. Jessicah Duckworth (Program Director, Lilly Endowment Religion Division)
Tonight we honor one of our members, Dr. Anne Wimberly, for her outstanding leadership and service to the young church. She serves as the Director of Youth Hope Builder Academy and is professor emerita of Christian education at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Wimberly is the nation’s leading Black Christian educator. She is a prodigious researcher, prolific writer, and probing teacher. She has published numerous books including the forthcoming Routledge Research text: Empowering Black Youth of Promise: Education and Socialization in the Village-minded Black Church.
Dr. Wimberly has a definite relational pedagogy behind her approach to youth ministry in Black Churches. It consists of three connecting elements:
- Realism about the life stories of Black youth.
- The role of community understood as “the village.”
- Christian identity and leadership formed and lived, especially expressed in hope and love.
Dr. Wimberly has been a lifelong advocate for young people and their families. From a young age, her involvement in the life of the church shaped and guided her vocational journey.
In an interview with John Mulder published on the Youth Hope-Builders Academy website, Dr. Wimberly shared that she “was called to ministry very early. I was the daughter of a minister, but I had no role models of women in ministry. So I pushed the call into the recesses of my mind.” In the church of her childhood, the congregation had a ritual of calling forth young people. Each youth’s individual gifts were named in the practice of the laying on of hands. “I was told my gifts were music and teaching.”
She went to college, majored in music education at Ohio State University, pursued coursework for a doctorate in music at Boston University, and taught in public schools and colleges for more than 20 years. She received her Ph.D. in educational leadership from Georgia State University in 1981 and taught for several years in colleges and universities. “I always have had a love for young people,” she says, “from kindergarten to high school to higher education.”
“But the call wouldn’t go away,” she said, so she finally enrolled at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and received her Master of Theological Studies (MTS) in 1993. Garrett honored her as a distinguished alumna in 2009. Along the way she met and then married Edward P. Wimberly, a professor of pastoral care and counseling.
After a number of personal tragedies in her life, Anne said, “I kept yelling to God, ‘What’s going on?”
But then Anne had dreams. She said, “In the first one, there was smothering blackness, and through the darkness came an illumined hand. A voice said, ‘This is the hand of God that will lead you.” In another dream she heard a voice saying, ‘You shall have many more children than you can have biologically.’”
“That was it,” she says. “I knew what I had to do. So you see, everything I’m doing has a very personal dimension, and youth ministry is the heart of my call to ministry. The current generation of high school youth are like my grandchildren. When the students call me ‘Grandma Anne,’ my heart sings.”
Dr. Anne Wimberly’s colleagues share the following testimony recognizing Dr. Anne Wimberly as a Prophet of Hope.
Minister Sarah Farmer shared: “Dr. Anne represents an exemplar of hope. The hope she speaks about is rooted in the love of Christ manifested through concrete actions in a world yearning for more. Not only has she taught about hope, Dr. Anne embodies hope. For over nine years, I have observed her shedding light on a valued ethnic identity and the vocational possibilities for young people. I have been a blessed recipient of her wisdom and grace!”
Rev. Dr. Casina Washington wrote: Thank you Dr. Anne for nurturing my faith and hope as I searched for wisdom. My connecting journey with you began in 1996 and what an impact you have made during my faith journey. “Ubuntu- I am what I am because of who we all are.” Sisters in the Spirit.
Minister Pamela Perkins said: Hebrews 10:23 states, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.” Since 2002, Dr. Anne Wimberly has lovingly shared this scripture with me. This faithful servant is my sister, mentor, confidant, encourager and friend. She is an amazing and phenomenal woman of God, who has given us all a reason to hope! Dr. Wimberly, thank you for your unconditional love, ministry and dedication to our youth, the church, community and world! With tremendous gratitude.
Tonight we honor Dr. Anne Wimberly with the Prophet of Hope Recognition.
Citation/Recognition presented by Dr. Jeff Kaster (LYTN Coordinator)
We present to Dr. Anne Wimberly this illumination of the Baptism of Jesus from the Saint John’s Bible. This illumination highlights the image of the prophet John the Baptist who is portrayed as both messenger and prophet. We see the dynamic Spirit like the mighty wind over the waters of creation and the splitting of the sea in Exodus. We hear the voice from heaven saying to Jesus: “You are my beloved son. With you I am well pleased.”
Just as John the Baptist prepared the world for the coming Messiah, Dr. Anne Wimberly has steadfastly shared the Good News of Jesus Christ with young people, building bridges and inspiring Hope in a new generation of disciples.
For her prophetic witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Living Word of Hope,
For her tireless commitment to instilling this Hope in the young Black church, alive with possibility and promise,
For her ceaseless proclamation of the “belovedness” of all,
And for the incredible lifetime of service she has humbly offered in the name of our Lord,
We the members of the Lilly Youth Theology Network are pleased to present Dr. Wimberly with the Prophet of Hope Recognition, this third day of February, 2016. We echo the word’s of Mark’s Gospel: “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased.”