In bitter cold, Dallas church accepted challenge to open as a shelter

Oak Lawn UMC made a last-minute decision to host those in need during a harsh cold spell. Marie Saavedra reports.

DALLAS - For the homeless and those in need, life threatening cold makes finding a safe place difficult. The shelters across North Texas quickly fill in the cold, so a Dallas church became a solution on a whim. 

An Oak Lawn United Methodist Church member asked on Sunday if her church would open its doors for the coming cold nights.

"There’s always the question of, 'Can we pull that off?" said Pastor Rachel Baughman. "Is there really the need?"

Baughman and her congregation are known for welcoming everyone, and it took only a few hours for them to do just that. They started providing shelter that Sunday evening, and have every night since.

"I’m amazed that we’ve had the volunteer support and resources that we’ve had," the pastor said.

Some 50 people per night have nourishment for their bodies and minds, and providing the gift of a place to go. 

"This is my third night staying here," said Dean Priest. "To not have to worry where I’m going to sleep tonight. It’s a blessing. It’s a blessing." 

Seventy-two hours later, it was the congregation that also felt blessed that one of its own saw the chance to put faith in action. So they did.

Oak Lawn UMC is still accepting donations of food, coats and more. It is also getting help from other nonprofits and faith groups to stay up and running. The overnight lows won't be above freezing until Saturday so the church plans will continue its shelter through the end of the week. 

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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