Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary 1993
Executive Director, Youth Hope-Builders Academy; Professor Emerita of Christian Education, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia
As executive director of Youth Hope-Builders Academy, a Lilly Endowment funded theological program for high-school youth, Dr. Anne E. Streaty Wimberly works with congregations to help them develop Christian values and leadership among Black youth. Focusing on four key areas—identity and vocation, holistic health, conflict resolution, and family life—Dr. Wimberly fosters young people’s engagement in these critical issues at a time “when we know the urgency of ‘Black Lives Matter.’” Seeking to reflect the words of Jeremiah 29:11, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope,” the Academy addresses the very real challenges facing marginalized youth today, who “struggle because of the pressures in society, the attitudes toward Black people, yet desire to be the best against all the odds.”
In reflecting on her own early church experiences, Dr. Wimberly recalls how her identity was affirmed over and over by mentors who told her: “You are God’s child, you are a valued creation of God, you are beautiful, you are important, you are going to be somebody in life.” At a young age, she began to discern a call to serve God and to serve God’s people, a call that she has taken seriously throughout her life and that serves as the foundation for her work with young people today.
“I have a love for people, and my life has not always been easy, but because I know something about the troubles of the world, and what it means for someone to make a difference in troubled times, it means that I’m called to be available and of service to others just as Christ was.”
The experience of her forebears is what informs Dr. Wimberly’s understanding of faithfulness, which she defines in terms of perseverance. But being faithful also involves presence, love, and commitment in response to God’s call. She believes that, if we are ready to give of our hearts, minds, and spirits, “God will give us love, personhood, and direction needed to serve with love and commitment.”
During her time at Garret-Evangelical, Dr. Wimberly focused on African-American Christian Education. She grasped the significance of connecting one’s life stories with Scripture and stories of those who have come before in order to find a sense of belonging, purpose, and larger meaning in life: “My forebears drew on God’s story and faithful soul stories of Black people in ways that nurtured my own soul and allowed me to nurture the souls of others as well.” Dr. Wimberly’s story-linking model that centers on “soul stories” continues to inform her ministry.