History

From faith unity to community.

In 1885, local church leaders banded together as the Wichita Ministerial Alliance to help those in need in the Wichita community with a special focus on issues such as poor house and jail conditions, racial tension, women’s suffrage, and more. In 1919, the organization renamed themselves the Wichita Council of Churches to reflect the 50 churches now involved with the organization. In the ensuing years, the Wichita Council of Churches worked to advocate for social justice through a variety of efforts. They hosted food programs to provide relief to countries in Europe after the war, helped settle refugees in Wichita from the Hungarian and Cuban Revolutions in the 1950s, and advocated for minorities’ rights.

In 1960, the first Operation Holiday was held to help those in need during the holiday season, a tradition that continues today.

In the 1970s, groundwork was laid to provide shelter and housing to those experiencing homelessness or poverty in the Wichita community. In 1970, a half-way house for juveniles was opened. Reflecting the diverse denominations and faith groups now represented, the organization changed its name to Inter-Faith Ministries in 1978.

Inter-faith Ministries continued to narrow its focus to providing assistance and shelter to those in poverty or the homeless throughout the 1980s and, in 1984, the building at 320 E. Central was leased to Inter-Faith Ministries and opened as the Wichita Shelter for the Homeless, later renamed the InterFaith Inn.

In partnership with local churches, Inter-Faith Ministries opened Emergency Winter Shelters in the 1990s to serve the homeless during the coldest months of the year. In 1997, the Spiritual Center opened (which now houses the men’s Emergency Winter Shelter) and Safe Haven was opened as a shelter for homeless individuals with chronic mental illness.

In addition to the shelters, Inter-Faith Ministries opened two low-income apartment complexes in 2002, providing 61 units for individuals or families in poverty, with an additional 40 units added in 2008. In 2018, the Inn became the first homeless shelter in the state to allow animals.

Now, nearly 135 years later, we continue the tradition of uniting people together to help the vulnerable in our community as HumanKind Ministries—embracing communities of all kinds in our work to help the homeless and those living in poverty.

We are thankful for our rich history of vital connections to all faith communities and are excited to continue this mission while opening our arms to all who want to join on our mission. We’re proud of our past, excited for this new chapter, and hopeful for the future as we continue serving those most in need.