United Methodists Lend Support To Emergency Sheltering Efforts

Winter Storm Shelter

Food being prepared by the Salvation Army at the Overnight Warming Station in Plano (left). Cots being set up at the Inclement Weather Shelter in the Automotive Building in Fair Park (photo by The Dallas Morning News).

North Texas Conference commits $25,000 toward providing much-needed meals and shelter in wake of winter storm 

Congregations across the North Texas Conference are quickly mobilizing to respond to the impact of this week’s winter storm. Churches in Dallas, Collin and Lamar counties, among others, have provided food and shelter for those who need it most. 

In Dallas, Oak Lawn United Methodist Church has partnered with the City of Dallas to provide lodging and meals for roughly 1,000 unsheltered neighbors at the city’s centralized Inclement Weather Shelter at Fair Park. The Inclement Weather Shelter is an example of true partnership in action, with a space made possible by the City’s Office of Homeless Solutions and Office of Emergency Management at Fair Park, and operations coordinated through a collaboration of faith communities. Oak Lawn UMC is managing all of the meals, with an anticipated cost of roughly $100,000, depending on the severity and length of the winter storm.  

“Responding to the needs of those who are unsheltered in our streets is more than any one organization can handle during severe weather events like this,” said Rev. Rachel Baughman, senior pastor at Oak Lawn UMC. “Working in collaboration with the City of Dallas, local nonprofits and other faith communities is making it possible for us to offer a safe, indoor space for all who need it during this winter storm.” 

On Wednesday night, nearly 100 neighbors in Collin County found shelter in the Plano Overnight Warming Station. UM congregations including Christ UMC in Plano, Custer Road UMC, Arapaho UMC and First UMC Plano, as well as First Baptist Plano, The Salvation Army and several Catholic congregations are among the groups that provide financial and volunteer support to operate the warming station, which will remain open as long as the weather remains dangerous to our unhoused guests. 

“Volunteers are truly the engine that allows the Plano Overnight Warming Station (POWS) to operate,” said Bill Howard, coordinator for the POWS committee and member of Christ UMC. “It’s been so encouraging to see the continued outpouring of support from United Methodists, Baptists and Catholics across the city, as well as from our partners in the broader faith community. Regardless of where we worship, we all feel a shared commitment to help our neighbors.” 

In Paris, Texas, the Overnight Warming Station is a partnership between CitySquare Paris and several local congregations including First UMC Paris. Neighbors can find hot meals and safe lodging at Lamar Avenue Church of Christ.

“First UMC Paris is committed to joining CitySquare Paris and other partners in caring for our neighbors at all times,” Rev. Rob Spencer said. 

Additional churches across the conference are providing food, transportation and volunteers to support warming stations and shelters in their communities. 

To support these efforts, the North Texas Conference has committed $25,000 from its Disaster Relief Fund, matching gifts from congregations and church members.

“As United Methodists, we’re called to put our faith into action and do all the good we can,” Bishop Michael McKee said. “Right now, we’re seeing our congregations across North Texas live into that mission, give of their time, as well as their physical and financial resources, and make a real impact where it’s needed the most.” 


Published: Thursday, February 3, 2022