Below we have included biographies for the conference keynote speakers.
Pastor Jim Liske - "Imago Dei"
Jim Liske, currently the Lead Pastor at Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan, served as President and CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries from 2011-2015. During that time he spoke in cities and prisons throughout the country on behalf of those incarcerated and also served on the Colson Congressional Task Force for Federal Prison Reform.
Before leading Prison Fellowship Ministries, Jim was the Senior Pastor of Ridge Point Community Church in Holland from 2002-2011. From 1986-2002 he served churches in Bridgman, Michigan; in Alberta, Canada; and Ontario, Canada. Jim also currently serves as a board member for Crossroads Bible Institute, an international ministry to those in prison. He also serves on the board of the New York City Leadership Center which heads up Movement Day where Jim has been both a presenter and speaker. His articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, the Washington Post, and Real Simple magazine.
Jim has been married to Cathy, his high school sweetheart, for 33 years, and they have lived in the Zeeland, Michigan, area since 2002. Jim and Cathy have two grown, married children, Allison (Colin) Boevers and Joshua (Jenn) Liske. Colin and Allison both coach Track and Field at the University of Oklahoma, and Allison also runs her own photography business. Colin and Allison are the parents of Jim and Cathy’s first grandchild Wren. Josh is an Allegan County, Michigan, sheriff’s deputy serving at the county jail, and Jenn is an ER nurse at Spectrum Hospital.
A native of Michigan, Jim is a graduate of Olivet College and North American Baptist Seminary in Sioux Falls, SD (now known as Sioux Falls Seminary).
Jim’s Life Mission:
“I am passionate about ‘fixing what is broken’ through living and sharing the Gospel. I believe the local church is God’s primary plan to intentionally reach spiritually lost people and lead them to full life in Jesus Christ. All we see and experience has been created by and for God, and everyone we encounter has in them the image of God. Through Jesus, all can be redeemed and once again worship the Father. As the Church of Jesus lives and winsomely proposes the Gospel, the Spirit will use that witness to restore the Church, communities, and the world.” 4-11-17
Dennis Van Kampen - "Healing and hope"
Dennis Van Kampen, President/CEO at Mel Trotter Ministries. Dennis brings a wealth of experience to Mel Trotter from his 20+ years of ministry leadership. He has led four camp and retreat centers, served as a pastor, and even served as a reserve and part-time deputy sheriff for 15 years.
He currently teaches adults in Professional and Graduate Studies at Cornerstone University and serves as a lay pastor with a local church.
“I believe that God has been orchestrating my steps for 20 years preparing me for this ministry at this time. I am so excited to use my gifts and experiences as well as my passion for serving the hungry, homeless, and hurting. I love seeing lives transformed in very practical ways through education, jobs and homes, but most important I love helping people discover the hope, love and restoration available in Jesus Christ.”
Dennis brings a wealth of experience to Mel Trotter from his 20+ years of ministry leadership. He has led four camp and retreat centers, served as a pastor, and even served as a reserve and part-time deputy sheriff for 15 years. He currently teaches adults in Professional and Graduate Studies at Cornerstone University and serves as a lay pastor with a local church.
Dennis came to Mel Trotter in early 2012. He served as the Vice President of Programs, and his responsibilities included the Emergency Shelters, Residential Programs, Day Center, Food Pantry, and PI Center.
Van Kampen was selected as the CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries in Spring 2015, and officially began this position as Mel Trotter's leader on June 1, 2015.
Prof. M. LINDA GRAHAM, MFA,
Prof. M. LINDA GRAHAM, MFA, Dorothy Wiley DeLong Chair of Dance, Hope College. A 33year member of the Hope College Department of Dance, Linda served as Chair from 2004-2015.
She graduated from the National Academy of Arts, and received her BFA (Theatre) and MFA in Choreography/Performance from the University of Illinois. A former member of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, she co-founded and co-directed Aerial Dance Theatre [now known as H2 Dance Co.) until 2005. She has set works on the Joffrey Ballet (Arpino Apprentices), Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II and the Grand Rapids Ballet, among others. Her choreography has been produced in the USA, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Mexico & France and for the children’s television program “C’mon Over.” Recently she has created events for Global Water Dances (Holland) and flash mobs (i.e. Tulip Time, West Michigan Petapalooza). A recipient of a Michigan Dance Association Choreographer's Award, Michigan Dance Council Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award, National Association of Regional Ballet Monticello Fellowship for Young Choreographers (2 times),"Partners In Dance" award from the Grand Rapids Ballet, she also received a Creative Artist Grant (1997) from ArtServe Michigan. She currently teaches Dance History Survey, Historical Social Dance, Career Skills, and Ballet at Hope. Her current interest is in the intersection of movement experiences between humans and animals, training approaches and community.
Matthew Farmer is currently the Chair of the Dance Department at Hope College, and is the Co-Artistic Director of R.G. Dance Productions and the Co-Artistic Director of H2 Dance Co.
Formerly the Director of Dance at Anderson University, Farmer has had great success as a director, educator, choreographer, performer, and as an author; co-authoring a book (Introductory Modern Dance: A Teaching Manual) with his good friend and colleague Jon Lehrer. Formerly the Associate Director and company member of LehrerDance, Farmer also danced with Peter Sparling as a company member of The Peter Sparling Dance Co. While dancing for Sparling, Matthew received his MFA from the University of Michigan in Dance Performance and Choreography. Farmer also studied under and performed with Steven Iannacone while receiving his BA in Theatre and Dance from Hope College. As a soloist and guest performer, his performance credits include Dance Chicago, Chicago Dance Festival, Dance in the Desert Festival, Men Dance Michigan, Next Step Dance, Chicago Humanities Festival, The Rein Orange (Duesberg, Germany) The European Cultural Bid (Liverpool, UK), The Roof (Germany), The Summer Stage (Brugge, Belgium), and various other festivals. Farmer has also had the privilege of working with and/or performing works by Avi Kaiser, Sergio Antonino, Merce Cunningham, Laura Dean, Matthew Thornton, Doug Varone, Daniel Nagrin and many more.
Aside from Modern/Contemporary dance, Farmer specializes in Improvisation and Jazz technique; which he is hired by many universities, conventions, and private studios to teach. He is currently on faculty with Dancer’s Inc. and On Tour dance conventions, and has taught for the Chicago National Association of Dance Master’s (CNADM), the Southern Association of Dance
Masters (SADM), and continues to teach at conventions and master classes in US and abroad. Other teaching credits include: Blue Lake Fine Arts Camps, Interlochen, Musiker Productions and Camps, Chelsea Dance Theatre, Anderson Young Ballet, Anderson University, Oakland University, Hope College, The University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, the Summer Stage (Brugge, Belgium), and various Masters Classes around the U.S.
His choreography has been produced by the Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, ICTF and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Dance in the Desert Festival, Mid-West RAD Festival, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, Western Kentucky University, Hillsdale College, Anderson University, Eastern Michigan University, Hope College, Anderson Young Ballet, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, Chelsea Youth Dance Theatre, Musiker Productions, Spezio Dance Dynamics, Men Dance Michigan, Hope College, Next Step Dance, dANCEpROjECT, Oakland University, and many more venues and companies. His works have been presented in the United States, Germany, and Scotland, and he has contributed to articles in Dance Teacher Magazine and Dance Studio Life.
Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom Grier
Rev. Dr. Denise Kingdom Grier is the pastor at Maple Avenue Ministries, a multi-cultural congregation in Holland, Michigan She is a graduate of Shaw University in Raleigh, NC where she earned a BA in psychology.
She later received a Master of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Rev. Grier has recently completed her Doctorate in Ministry which exposes apartheid perpetuating outreach practices. This apartheid rooted in lies about outreach recipients is offered a remedy in the development of a four-step embracing model for community engagement. She’s married to CJ Kingdom Grier and together they have reared sixteen children.
Chanita was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan and moved to Muskegon at the age 15 where she met her husband Jesse later in life. Chanita, who is affectionately known as Che-Che by family and friends, dedicated her life to the Lord in 1989 while living in Chicago, Illinois.
Chanita and her husband serve in her church under the leadership of Bishop Nathaniel W. Wells, Jr. at Holy Trinity Institutional Church of God in Christ. She is an Evangelist, Intercessor, Praise and Worship Leader, President of the Music Department, and a Facilities Manager by occupation. She has been blessed to enjoy the stage in the Christian play productions “My Time” and “The Good, The Bad, the Blessed,” and just recently obtained her Associates Degree in Theology. She is now pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree.
Chanita is not a stranger to abuse, and knows the effects it can have on a family all too well. God has anointed Chanita to usher in His presence through the ministry of Praise & Worship, and it is her desire to touch lives and bring hope, comfort and joy through the ministry of song. People are suffering in this world and need to know that they are not forgotten. There is hope and a way out.
Chanita is honored to serve in the Mighty Kingdom of God and is on a mission to lift up the name of Jesus through song and her testimony of deliverance.
Pastor Britton Smith
Pastor Smith has a heart for the lost and broken in his community. Some of these folks are also “religiously broken”, people who have grown up in the church knowing about God but not actually knowing him.
And still others are folks coming from a local mission, transitional housing, freshly out of jail or prison, and those trying to walk out of addiction.
Britton has been the lead pastor at Moran Park since 2009. Pastor Smith has a heart for the lost and broken in his community. Some of these folks are also “religiously broken”, people who have grown up in the church knowing about God but not actually knowing him.
And still others are folks coming from a local mission, transitional housing, freshly out of jail or prison, and those trying to walk out of addiction. Britton is passionate about all people finding freedom in Christ and showing them that they are useful in his kingdom. His heart beats for equipping individuals to make disciples that make disciples. He loves watching the joy people have when they realize that doing the stuff Jesus did isn’t just for the “professionals.”
Britton is proudly the husband of Michelle, and the dad of three fun-loving boys.