This year marks the Rev. Dr. Javier “Jay” Alanís’ retirement as Associate Professor of Theology, Culture and Mission at the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest (LSPS), an extension program of Wartburg Theological Seminary and LSTC, and as Executive Director of LSPS in Austin, Texas. The core mission of LSPS is to prepare leaders for Hispanic ministry contexts in the Southwest and other cross-cultural ministries across the nation. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, Alanís teaches the annual January Encuentro term and takes Southwest and LSPS students to the U.S. – Mexico border to examine the complexity of immigration and the church’s response in advocating for the immigrant asylum seeker who flees the destabilization of the home country.
He attended Seminary of the Southwest as a student of LSPS from 1988 to 1992.
“My journey as a student at SSW expanded my ecumenical horizon and allowed me to live into the call to common mission partnership of our two churches,” Alanís said.
After his graduation from LSPS in May, 1992, Alanís was ordained and served Trinity Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas for four years. During that time, he chaired the Multicultural Committee of the Southwest Texas Synod and also served on the board of the Multicultural Commission of the ELCA. He was then invited to pursue doctoral studies at LSTC and graduated with a Ph.D. in June, 2002. Jay joined the faculty of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago at its extension program in Austin in January of 2000 and was appointed Interim Executive Director of LSPS in July 2009 and Executive Director in 2011.
“My time of service at LSPS from 2000 to the present has been a graced journey,” Alanís said. “I have been blessed in innumerable ways by serving as a spiritual director and walking the formation journey with the students. I am grateful for the collegial community of SSW and the support and confidence in my leadership, in worship and on the board of the seminary.”
Alanís has written numerous articles on the image of God from a Hispanic/Latino perspective and is currently working on a borderlands hermeneutics as a lens for understanding and interpreting the ethical response to migration. His academic interests include contextual borderland theology, Latinx spirituality and the social ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. In 2006 and 2019, he was part of a panel that examined the subject of border walls at an international conference held in Berlin and at the Lutheran Center in Wittenberg, Germany. He is a frequent keynote speaker at various Synod events and is a contributor to the Lutheran devotional, Christ in our Home and Lutheran Preaching Helps. His most recent reflections are featured in the July 2018 Living Lutheran magazine of the ELCA and in the January 2019 theological publication, Currents in Theology and Mission. He is a frequent lecturer on the topic of immigration justice and human rights.
Alanís received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Madrid, Spain. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the American Graduate School of International Management and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas. Alanís received the Master of Divinity from LSPS/SSW and a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from LSTC. In 2013, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by LSTC.
When reflecting upon his vocation in ministry, Alanís commented that he stood on the shoulders of the many faithful saints who made his call and vocation possible. These include the Mellenbruch family of south Texas who first reached out to serve his family over 100 years ago and who planted the seeds of the Lutheran theology of grace among the Hispanic communities of the borderlands. He stated that the doctoral formation that he received at LSTC under the wise guidance of Dr. José David Rodríguez and the faculty allowed him to grow and stretch theologically in ways that he never imagined. This formative influence impacted his vision for a more inclusive church where Latinx leadership is affirmed for the gifts and talents that contribute to the catholicity of the church. He looks forward to celebrating his years of service on the LSTC campus in 2022.
“I will miss the community that gave me the opportunity to serve as faculty and director of LSPS,” Alanís said. “SSW will be forever a part of the story that shaped my call and service to the whole church.”