Ellen Johnston, Director
Ellen Johnston is the Director of the Center for Liturgy and Music at Virginia Theological Seminary. She has served churches in Mississippi and Virginia in a career spanning over thirty years. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in piano from Centenary College, she attended Southern Methodist University earning a Master of Music degree. Ellen was Director of the Mississippi Conference on Church Music and Liturgy for sixteen years after first having served as Assistant Director for eight years. She is past Chair of the National Board for the Leadership Program for Musicians, and has also taught courses for that program since its inception. She is the past Chair of the Music and Liturgy Commission of the Diocese of Virginia, a member of the Central Virginia Board for the Leadership Program for Musicians, a member of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church, and leads workshops in Virginia and elsewhere, primarily focusing on worship renewal and music in small congregations. She currently serves as Interim Director of Music at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Richmond. Ellen is an avid reader, has practiced yoga for many years, and meditates regularly. She lives in Richmond with her husband, Shannon, plus a dog and four cats.
The Rev. James Farwell, Ph.D., Consultant for Liturgy
Professor James W. Farwell joined the VTS faculty in 2012. He is currently the Professor of Theology and Liturgy. He completed his Ph.D. in Religion at Emory University in 2001. His work is in liturgical and sacramental theology, theories of ritual and religion, comparative theology and theologies of religious pluralism. He previously earned an M.Div. at the General Theological Seminary, with honors; and a B.A. in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America. Read more about Dr. Farwell. Watch Dr. Farwell’s faculty inaugural lecture here.
The Rev. Ruthanna Hooke, Ph.D., Consultant for Preaching
Ruthanna Hooke joined the VTS faculty in 2003, where she is currently the Associate Dean of Chapel and the Associate Professor of Homiletics. She received her A.B. degree summa cum laude from Harvard University, where she majored in Comparative Religion. She subsequently earned an M.A. in Performing Arts from Emerson College, where she studied the Linklater method of vocal training for actors, and became a Designated Linklater Voice Teacher. She received her M.Div. degree summa cum laude from Yale Divinity School, and her Ph.D. in Theology from Yale University. Her dissertation focused on the divine-human relationship in preaching, engaging the work of theologians Soren Kierkegaard and Karl Barth, and philosophers Emmanuel Levinas, Luce Irigaray, and Jacques Derrida. Read more about Dr. Hooke.
The Rev. William Bradley Roberts, D.M.A., Consultant for Music
William Bradley Roberts is currently Professor of Church Music at Virginia Theological Seminary and Director of Chapel Music. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Houston Baptist University with double majors in Voice and Music Education. He received the degrees Master of Church Music and Doctor of Musical Arts from Southern Seminary (Louisville, KY) with an emphasis in Conducting and Voice. His doctoral dissertation is entitled “Darius Milhaud, His Life and Choral Works with Biblical Texts: A Conductor’s Study.” Read more about Dr. Roberts.
The Rev. Kyle Babin, D.M.A., Student Administrative Assistant
Kyle is a third-year student at Virginia Theological Seminary and a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Prior to attending seminary, Kyle served as director of music and organist in various churches, most recently at Grace Church (Episcopal) in Alexandria, VA. A native of Texas, Kyle earned his Bachelor of Music degree (summa cum laude) at Rice University, a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, a certificate from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, as well as a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Manhattan School of Music.