Interfaith's history started on April 10, 1979, when an enormous tornado devastated Wichita Falls and flattened 1/5 of the town. Thousands of people were homeless and hurting. Church World Service, an arm of the National Council of Churches, sent representatives to the city to organize a response from the religious community, and Interfaith Disaster Service (IDS) was the vehicle created to help families unable to finance the rebuilding of their homes. Congregations of all denominations and different faiths banded together to rebuild homes and lives. This was a “first” for our city, as congregations had not previously cooperated for any purpose across denominational and faith lines.
IDS funneled money from major religious groups and federal disaster funds to purchase construction materials and feed, house and direct the work of volunteers from across the nation and Canada. By October 1981, the work of IDS was finished, but those who had worked side by side through the past one and one-half years did not want this cooperative spirit to die. They looked for another avenue by which their efforts could be channeled to improve the lives of Wichitans. The decision was made to open an emergency center for families whose lives had been devastated by medical emergencies, loss of employment, or other financial crises.
Twenty-five churches pledged to support Interfaith Ministries, Inc. (IMI), as the new organization was named. Their purpose was to eliminate the need for families to go from congregation to congregation to ask for food and financial assistance. Having a central location supported by many congregations enabled resources to be pooled, eliminated duplication of effort and assistance, and saved families a lot of time and frustration trying to find help. IMI member congregations can refer families to Interfaith, joining their financial and food contributions with others to help more people in a more efficient manner. Congregation staff and volunteers can then choose the times that are convenient for them to work at the center. On February 14, 2017 our name changed to Interfaith Outreach Services to better reflect the work we do today.
"They [Interfaith] helped me after the '79 tornado with my rent."
- Google reviews, Toni Beck