Eli Palacios

Pastor Eli Palacios, has been in ministry for the last seven years and in public education for the last 17 years. He was raised in the Catholic church but as a queer kid he came to find this was a less than ideal environment for his own faith,  spiritual growth, and safety. He attended and received a bachelor’s in political science from Brown University (2006). During his time at Brown he barely held onto his faith struggling to reconcile his faith and his queerness. Without faith leaders or faith communities that were open to having affirming conversations with him, focused on sharing the extravagant love and welcome that Christ embodies, he all but walked away from his faith.

It was during this time in his life that he remembers having a sidewalk conversation with a Rev. out of the University Chaplains office about me not attending church. She just wanted to check in, but she offered him so much more. Up until that time he had only received messages about churches that believed that the bible and the church didn’t make room for queer people like himself. On that sidewalk, that reverend helped unpack every single clobber passage with him that he had heard his entire life. At 19, that was the first time he had a critical conversation about scripture with her guidance and surrounded by God’s grace in the midst of that conversation. It was exactly what he needed as a queer Christian. It’s exactly what he needed to save him from the toxic messages that made him feel like he couldn’t be exactly who God had made him to be.

Fast forward, he spent years church hopping, trying to find another faith community that would not only welcome him, but also affirm him as a queer, Christian, Trans non binary person. During this time, he received a Masters in Educational Administration from the University of Texas Pan American (2015), as he continued to care deeply for equity in education. As God would have it, he found himself becoming a member, and eventually becoming the Pastor of an affirming small non-denominational church in the Rio Grande Valley that led him to step into serving God just as he was. During this time, he was part of The Reformation Project’s Leadership Development 2019 Cohort, that helped him deepen his commitment to sharing the affirming love of God and calling for inclusion of LGBTQIA+ people in the church. This experience allowed him to recommit to growing into what God was calling him to do as a person in ministry. Surrounded by God’s grace, peace, and love, Eli stepped further into God’s calling and he has spent the last five years preaching and providing pastoral care in various settings providing healing and fostering community spaces both near and far.

Eli became a member of the St. Paul congregation in April 2022, and he currently serves as a Pastor at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Corpus Christi where he has been leading youth and digital ministries for the last two years. He is also working towards ordination in the United Church of Christ as a Member in Discernment (MID). He is also currently in his third year at Chicago Theological Seminary working on a Master’s in Divinity (MDiv). While the last 17 years of his career have been focused on equity in education and educator effectiveness, he now uses all of the coaching and support tools he has developed over the years to support others in navigating their faith journeys on this Earth as they see themselves as fully made in the image of God-made to be loved, and to love.

Pastor Eli is also happily married to his wife Erika Palacios, and they reside in Edinburg, TX with their two Shih Tzu’s Luna and Lucy.