HistoryBody & Soul Homeless ProgramTM Dallas TX
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 of Theology, DiAngelo Lee, crafted a vision to address the needs of the downtown Dallas homeless community. The Body & Soul Homeless Ministry was founded at St. Paul United Methodist Church downtown to address hunger and provide a weekend safe place to support street artists.
To understand the problem, the leadership team spent a day on the streets and a night in a Homeless Shelter anonymously as homeless persons.
Body & Soul provided a good hearty breakfast: scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, biscuits, grits, juice, milk, and coffee. Lots of coffee.
First UMC Richardson joined to provide a hot Sunday dinner meal. More Christians from different backgrounds and traditions have worked with Body & Soul over time: West Irving COGIC, Highland Park UMC, West Mesquite Baptist, First UMC Dallas.
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.
Body & Soul did not stop for COVID-19.
We shifted to visiting outside with our guests and distributing to-go bags with breakfast sandwiches and other portable goodies, plus a hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. Many guests took their bags to go, but in nice weather some gathered on the front steps to enjoy the meal together.
As we have transitioned back to hot meals inside again (hooray!), we are thrilled to keep serving our very beloved guests.
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 25 years of service with the homeless community in downtown Dallas.
The United Methodist North Texas conference acknowledges a person/organization who exhibits Bishop Oden's belief in interreligious cooperation and dialogue, and reflects faithful work in social justice and ministries that work with other denominations to serve "the least of these."