History

Body & Soul Homeless ProgramTM Dallas TX

MISSION

As an ecumenical community and faith-based homeless program,     we partner with the public and private sectors to inspire persons experiencing homelessness to lead hopeful and productive lives. 

how it started

In February of 1997, Rev Henry Masters, along with a young intern from SMU Perkins School, DiAngelo Lee, crafted a vision to address the needs of the downtown Dallas homeless community.  The Body & Soul Homeless Ministry was founded and began serving out of St. Paul United Methodist Church downtown to address hunger and provide a weekend safe place to support street artists.

 

Highland Park Presbyterian Church joined in partnership. HPPC primarily funded the ministry and the renovation of St. Paul’s commercial kitchen, and St. Paul provided the physical location downtown to house the ministry. 

Initially there was concern that the different ethnic makeup of the churches would be a problem, but soon everyone soon realized that they were united in a common goal of caring for the least of these – a meal and spiritual food for the Dallas homeless.

research

To understand the problem, the leadership team spent a day on the streets and a night in a Homeless Shelter anonymously as homeless persons. 

 

They also visited St John UMC in Houston to conduct more research to watch their Bread of Life Homeless Ministry.

together!

Body & Soul provided a good hearty breakfast: scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, biscuits, grits, juice, milk, and coffee. Lots of coffee.

 

The team would find guest speakers from every denomination to deliver an ecumenical Bible message.  Body & Soul grew to serve around 100 people every Saturday. Our security guard would hand each person a ticket and get them settled in with some coffee before the message started.

holy

First UMC Richardson joined to provide a hot Sunday dinner meal.  More joined over time: West Irving COGIC, Highland Park UMC, West Mesquite Baptist, First UMC Dallas.


Many of our guests come to us with an impressive knowledge of scripture and relationships with Jesus. 


Our guests over the last 26 years represent every tradition.  The Body & Soul organization and guests are ecumenical.

safety

We saw that people experiencing homelessness have a deep place in their hearts for children; maybe because it’s the last time they felt secure or loved. When one of the guests was asked, “What is it that you like the most about Body & Soul?”  his response was, “They know my name.” 

Another replied that during the week, he feels that he is always watching his back, but at Body & Soul, he can relax because it’s a safe environment. 

 Some guests had great jobs in the corporate world but encountered hard times and landed at our door. Others have been homeless all their lives. We feed and care for them all.

Bishop William B. Oden Ecumenical Award

In June 2022, Body & Soul co-founder Ms. Leah Parker was presented the 9th Annual Bishop William B. Oden Ecumenical Award in honor of her continuous years of service with the homeless community in downtown Dallas.

Read the news release on Twitter