Bishop Mark Herbener

In Memoriam:
Bishop Mark Herbener


Bishop Herbener was the first recipient of the Peacemaker of the Year Award from the Dallas Peace and Justice Center. His Mt. Olive church hosted the office for the Dallas Peace Center for many years during the 1980’s.

Reverend Mark Basil Herbener was a beacon to the faith-based community and the civil rights movement. He was the Bishop Emeritus of the Northern Louisiana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

His first pastoral call was to the Messiah Lutheran Church in Richardson, where he served from 1956 to 1961, immediately followed by his pastorate at the Mount Olive Lutheran Church until 1987.

While serving at Mt. Olive, Bishop Herbener and his parishioners led the call to establish the first food pantry in the city of Dallas. He also encouraged the building of new homes in South Dallas, and sold part of the church’s property to ensure that this vision was realized.

Bishop Herbener shepherded Mt. Olive through the tumultuous times of the civil rights era and the Seminex crisis as they chose to leave the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to become part of the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches Association (ELCA). With the formation of the ELCA, he was then elected bishop, and served in that capacity before retiring in 2000. As Bishop, he played a pivotal role in the development of the Synod’s strong relationship with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone.

Recognized as an astute theological scholar and preacher, he was known for his easy wit and clear illustrative preaching skills, based on solid understanding and interpretation of the Bible. Mark and his devoted wife, Donna, enjoyed annual pilgrimages to the roots of Lutheran history and theology. Their annual Christmas gatherings in their home welcomed a wide variety of appreciative friends from diverse faith and ethnic traditions. His extensive library and his model trains, along with her paintings, were a wonder to behold.

During the height of the civil rights movement, Bishop Herbener worked with many organizations including the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Black Citizens for Law and Justice and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. He also served on the board of the Opportunities Industrialization Center, an organization that provided an opportunity for vocational, educational, and life skills training program designed to prepare young men and women for full-time employment.

Bishop Herbener served with numerous organizations in various leadership roles, including the Greater Dallas Community of Churches, the National Conference of Christians and Jews for the Dallas area, Dallas Interfaith Task Force, the Interfaith Council of Thanks-Giving Foundation, and the Texas Conference of Churches.

He was on the board of many theological organizations including the Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies, Wartburg Theological Seminary, the Texas Lutheran College Corporation, the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations, the Dallas Council of Bishops and Executive Ministers, and the Jewish Christian Relations Forum.

Though quite accomplished, those who knew him note that he was a humble and generous man of the cloth. He will be remembered as a major contributor in the civil rights era and in the faith-based community.






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