A bullet list of Dr. Bankston’s professional ministry and areas of service would impress even the "un-impressible," but a list could never capture his heart nor the depth of his far-reaching service. His 36 years of dedication to the United Methodist Church are filled with testaments to his deep love of God and all of God’s good creation as well as his remarkable pastoral and leadership abilities. He has served as delegate to six Jurisdictional Conferences of the United Methodist Church, three General Conferences, and two World Methodist Conferences, providing leadership in the exhibition of radical hospitality and Christ-like acceptance of everyone in God’s family tree.
He has been senior minister of St. Paul’s since February 1995. Immediately prior to that he served two years as District Superintendent of the Beaumont District, and before that he served in several other churches within the Texas Annual Conference. His passion and excitement is with the local church. And at St. Paul’s that local church is the heart of the community in one of the most diverse cities in the nation. He loves the urban setting that fosters St. Paul’s eclectic congregation and broadness of thought. “People here probe the depth of the Christian experience, tested by their own Christian experiences,” he said. “For the most part, people here are not looking for simple answers to life’s complex problems.”
He has embraced the interfaith ministry of the City of Houston, building relationships with leaders in the Jewish and Muslim communities and beyond. A past president of the Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, he continues to sit of its board as he also is on the board of the Anti-Defamation League’s Coalition for Mutual Respect and the advisory board for the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue, a Muslim organization. Along with David Rosen, Senior Rabbi at Houston's Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Dr. Bankston was a recipient in 2004 of the ADL's Julie and Ben Rogers Ecumenism Award "for work in furthering greater harmony and cooperation in our communities."
A native of Malakoff, Texas, he was valedictorian of his high school class and continued to earn academic honors as he progressed through Lon Morris College, where he earned the Founder’s Award, and Southwestern University, from which he graduated cum laude and earned the David Knox Porter Theology Award. He completed his Masters of Theology at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, in Dallas and his Doctor of Ministry from Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri.
His additional boards and other leadership roles, past and present and advisory, include the Institute for Religion and Health at the Texas Medical Center, Center for Faith and Health Initiative, Methodist Mission Home, Preschool for All, Perkins School of Theology, Board of Ordained Ministry, Lakeview Conference Center, and Interface-Samaritan Counseling Centers of Houston plus the Hispanic Ministry Task Force. He is as likely to be operating a chain saw after hurricane cleanup, and at 7 each Wednesday morning, he leads St. Paul’s Men’s Lectionary Bible Study Breakfast, which is attended by men from all across the city.
Married to his high school sweetheart, Sandy Andrews Bankston, together they have two daughters and five grandchildren, all of whom also are active in the life of St. Paul’s.
Dr. Bankston will retire at the 2013 meeting of the Texas Annual Conference. His successor will be Rev. Tommy Williams, a former St. Paul's UMC Associate Minister, now Senior Minister at Westbury United Mehodist Church in Houston.