John Garland is the pastor of the San Antonio Mennonite Church and Chaplain of the Interfaith Welcome Coalition. John became pastor of SAMC in 2016 during an immigration crisis that has dramatically shaped the church and its ministry. Our church responded to this long-term humanitarian disaster with years of hospitality in our own homes and La Casa de Maria y Marta and the miracles witnessed, the suffering endured, and the revelations of God’s Community have powerfully shaped John’s theology, his reading of scripture, and his approach to leadership.
John pastors from the discipline of “no action without prayer, no prayer without action.” His applied theology interprets Christianity as a trauma-transforming faith movement, he reads Scripture as divinely inspired through and for traumatized communities, and he understands hospitality, story, and prayer-centered community as the most powerful tools of healing.
John is currently doing doctoral work on communal trauma, spiritual resilience, and the Psalms. He is a fellow at the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty. He is the National Association of Social Workers' Texas 2020 "Public Citizen of the Year."
Most recently he has traveled extensively in Central America, visiting rural churches on the border of Honduras and Guatemala that are living through violence, poverty, and governmental failures.
John's wife is a high school principal a few blocks from their downtown home and he has two daughters in the elementary school down the street. John’s older sister lives in Brooklyn.
Before San Antonio, John was a pastor of the Iglesia Menonita Buenas Nuevas in the border community of San Juan, Tx. While pastoring on the border, John also worked as a public school teacher (middle school science), a vegetable farmer, and a child nutritionist.
John grew up in Louisville, KY, the son of a Bible scholar and a Social Worker. His family moved to Baylor University in Waco, TX where his parents became instrumental leaders. John attended Baylor and worked on the World Hunger Relief Farm, which prepared him for his first service projects in the Rio Grande Valley and exposed him to Anabaptist theology and practice.