Speakers

Dr. Janet Awokoya

Dr. Janet Awokoya

Dr. Janet Awokoya has a strong faith, passion, and commitment to Elohim God. She is a servant-leader who is deeply committed to improving the educational opportunities and outcomes of all students. She currently serves in two capacities at California Lutheran University. First, as the Director of the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Program, in which she prepares first-generation, low-income and underrepresented students to pursue masters and doctoral degrees. Second, she serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Global Studies Department at Cal Lutheran. In this role, Dr. Awokoya teaches about Africa and global African migrations and diasporas, with a particular interest on the experiences of 1.5 and second-generation immigrants, the children of immigrants.

Prior to Cal Lutheran, Dr. Awokoya worked as a Technical Advisor with the USAID Partnership for Education: Learning —a nationwide project focused on improving the reading skills of early grade readers in Accra, Ghana. Dr. Awokoya also worked as a Senior Research Associate at the Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in Washington DC.  In this role, she conducted research on diversity matters in higher education, Minority Serving Institutions and institutional capacity building. Her publication outlets include the Harvard Educational Review, Review of Higher Education, Journal of Praxis in Multicultural Education, Qualitative Inquiry and edited book volumes.

In her spare time, Janet enjoys teaching dance fitness and yoga that embraces West African, Caribbean and Latin rhythms. Nine years ago, Dr. Awokoya and her daughter, Celeste Awokoya-Gregory, co-created Zukossa Fitness, a mother-daughter team. Janet and Celeste’s mission is to use music, dance, and fitness to bring people of all backgrounds together and to encourage participants to reach the best versions of their authentic selves.


Rev. Brenda Bos
by Emily Ann Garcia

Rev. Brenda Bos

Brenda Bos is assistant to the bishop in Southwest California Synod. Her work includes caring for pastors and congregations as they proclaim the gospel and find the wonder of God in unexpected places. She is proudly known as “Uncle Brenda” at Queerfully and Wonderfully Made, a “Jesus-flavored” LGBTQ celebration which meets in a Lutheran church in Fullerton several times a year. Before becoming a pastor, Brenda was a television producer working in sitcoms. She actually makes more people laugh in this career than in her last.    


Libby Denton

Libby Denton

Libby Denton is currently a grad student in Berkeley, CA getting her master’s degree to become a pastor. This will be her fourth time going to Western States Youth Gathering (she went as a high school student in 2008!). She loves talking about God, and in her free time she enjoys doing yoga, reading books (that aren’t required for school), and watching silly movies.


Dr. Rahuldeep Gill

Dr. Rahuldeep Gill

Dr. Rahuldeep Gill is an award-winning educator and translator, with over a decade of experience teaching about religious ideas and cultural identities. He has appeared on public radio, lectured for the State Department, and spoken at the Church Center for the United Nations.

Dr. Gill consults on television and film projects and his writings have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Huffington Post. Oxford University Press published his first book, a highly-regarded set of poetry translations called Drinking from Love’s Cup. He is currently translating the poetry of the earliest Sikh scriptures while also writing his memoir about growing up in the United States as a racial and religious minority and immigrant.

Raised in Boston, Dr. Gill graduated with Honors from the University of Rochester (New York) and received his doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He is a professor at California Lutheran University where he teaches a class on religion and hip-hop culture, in addition to courses on Asian-American religions, the Sikh tradition, and ancient Asian spiritualities. He lives in Los Angeles with his family and the world’s most beautiful blue-nose Pitbull.


Rev. Matt Keadle

Bio and picture coming soon!


Rev. Yolanda Norton

Rev. Yolanda Norton

Rev. Yolanda M. Norton is the Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and H. Eugene Farlough Chair of Black Church Studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Professor Norton is a womanist scholar who has published for Working Preacher, The Interpretation Journal, I Found God in Me: A Womanist Biblical Hermeneutics Reader, Global Perspectives in the Old Testament, and Liturgical Press’ new feminist commentary on the Psalms (Books 2-3).

Prior to her position at SFTS, Rev. Norton was a Visiting Instructor at Moravian Theological Seminary and adjunct faculty at Wesley Theological Seminary.  In addition to courses on the book of Ruth, Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible, and Methods of Exegesis courses, she has interests in experiential and contextual learning. She has led a number of trips to Israel/Palestine for various seminaries, focusing on social and political issues alongside experiencing the social material world of ancient Israel through archaeology. 

She is ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergy who has deep commitments to the church, having served in various ministerial capacities in the Washington, D.C. area and Nashville, TN.  She also preaches and teaches across the country in a range of diverse ecclesial contexts. She is the creator/curator of the Beyoncé Mass, and has been featured in Essence, Ebony, the New York Times, and a host of other print and media platforms for her creative worship design and innovative preaching. 


Jasmine Waring

Jasmine Waring

From a former evangelical Children’s pastor, to a queer Lutheran rabble-rouser, Jasmine Waring (she/her) has spent her adult life pursuing the call of God and creating spaces where people feel they belong. Jasmine is a candidate in Word and Sacrament in the ELCA and is currently on staff at The Table OC in Fullerton, CA. In January 2019, she launched an LGBTQ+ centered ministry called Queerfully & Wonderfully Made, an inclusive space for LGBTQ+ people to explore faith in creative ways. When Jasmine isn’t manically obsessing over ministry and queer theology, she likes to spend time with her gracious partner, Melanie, and bingeing Youtube videos.