The Rev. Irma Banales is Director for Evangelical Mission, a deployed staff position of the ELCA to the Northern Texas – Northern Louisiana Synod. Her role is to identify potential areas for new ministries, to assist existing congregations in renewal, and to encourage and sustain congregational vitality on stewardship/generosity ministries among the NT-NL congregations and the ELCA.
She began working for the synod as the receptionist/administrative assistant to the mission director (1999-2003). She supplemented her training with the Parish Lay Minister Academy (2009-2010). She received her degree in family counseling from TCU/Brite Divinity School in 2010. Pastora Bañales was ordained in the NT-NL Synod on May 24, 2014, following her attendance in the TEEM program at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (2012-2014).
Pastora Bañales served as the pastor/developer of First Sagrada Familia Lutheran Church, Garland, TX, from 2013 to 2017. While developing that congregation, she was also the dean for the NT-NL Synod’s Latin@ Conference. Prior to this call, she served as the Hispanic/Latin@ Ministries Coordinator of the synod (2004-2013).
Pastora Bañales has also been involved significantly with the ELCA, serving on the following ELCA churchwide teams: Congregational Vitality Leadership Developers Training Planning Team, Future Directions Table Team, Latin@ Strategy Table, Candidacy Working Group and Leadership, Behavior Interview Team, Stewardship/Mission Support team, DEMs of Color group, and Latin@ Coaching Team.
Vance Blackfox Vance Blackfox, an Indigenous theologian and citizen of the Cherokee Nation, serves the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as the Director of Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations. An alumnus of Texas Lutheran University (TLU) and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), Vance has served the ELCA in multiple capacities, from taking a post as national president of the Lutheran Youth Organization during his TLU days, to later working as a diversity and cultural education professional for Women of the ELCA, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, California Lutheran University, ELCA Youth Gathering, and LSTC’s Youth in Mission. In addition to serving numerous ELCA and ecumenical teams and committees throughout the years, he is at present the Indigenous Theologian and Coordinating Team Member for the ELCA’s Theological Round Table, as well as creator and producer of the Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium hosted at LSTC.
Vance is the founder and director of Other+Wise, a multi-site cultural education and cultural immersion program for youth and student groups from across the country. He has also served as the Director of Communications at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, as the Director of Communications for Native Americans in Philanthropy and has held executive director positions at the Haskell Foundation, which supports Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Oaks Indian Mission. Vance previously served as the guest curator of the Indian Museum at the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures, on the board of directors for the San Antonio Community Resource Directory www.sacrd.org, and as the Indigenous theologian for the Faith-Based Initiative for the City of San Antonio. He presently serves on the board of directors for the Charter for Compassion, www.charterforcompassion.org.
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