by Lauren Moses • 3 min read
Churches and ministries in America face unprecedented attacks on their freedoms. But, we’d like to share with you some encouraging news—a story showing the impact supporters like you are having for religious freedom.
Recently, one of First Liberty’s former clients, OurCalling, a nonprofit outreach ministry and church in the heart of Dallas, was able to freely live out its faith and be a light to people in need in the downtown area.
Last year, City officials tried to stop OurCalling from carrying out its mission. But this year, they asked the organization for help.
During the February 2021 snowstorm that hit Texas, OurCalling wanted to keep its doors open all night as a shelter of last resort. But the city balked at the request.
However, as temperatures dropped to subfreezing in early 2022, city officials asked: “Will you, OurCalling, operate an inclement weather shelter?” The church answered with a strong and resounding “Yes!” Stepping up to the plate to help the homeless again, OurCalling temporarily operated the largest homeless shelter in North Texas.
From Harassment to Cooperation
OurCalling’s mission is to reach the homeless and provide for their physical and spiritual needs. They provide worship services, Bible studies, substance-abuse recovery programs, mentorship, and other support services (like laundry, showers, clothing, and meals) to people experiencing homelessness. It’s not normally open at night. But in order to fulfill its biblical mission, OurCalling sometimes remains open 24-hours to provide a warm shelter for those who have nowhere else to go.
But in 2018, the city of Dallas ticketed OurCalling for keeping its doors open. Then a subsequent zoning law excluded OurCalling from providing temporary shelter in inclement weather.
That’s when First Liberty stepped in. Our legal team explained to the city that its interpretation of an ordinance violated the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In the end, the City of Dallas reversed course and agreed that OurCalling may continue to stay open 24 hours when necessary, during emergencies.
This was a huge victory for our clients. Because the city did the right thing in this case, the local community is now reaping the benefits.
Patrick Palmer, Chief Advancement Officer for OurCalling, said this is “an opportunity to do whatever you can to provide for someone who can’t provide for themselves.”
Pastor and CEO of OurCalling Wayne Walker also shared in this local news interview what they are doing to take care of the vulnerable:
Houses of worship and ministries like OurCalling do incredible work. And they can continue carrying out their mission because of supporters like YOU. Thank you for donating to First Liberty and helping us win for ministries like OurCalling.