Our History

United Methodist Open Door began in 1965 as United Methodist Urban Ministry of Wichita. It was started by a group of Methodist clergy and laity who sought to respond to the issues of poverty, including issues of racial justice, raised by the turmoil of that time.

During our history, from the original leadership of Rev. Gene Seely through the present leadership of Rev. Deann Smith, we have responded to the changing needs of the community. Our programs and services have included medical and dental care, a Hispanic Ministry program, employment assistance, emergency rent and utility assistance, clothing programs, food programs and shelter options, among others. While some of these programs have endured, based on community need, others have spun off to become free-standing organizations (e.g. GraceMed Health Clinic and Economy Corner) or appropriately taken on by other agencies..

In 2007, we changed our name to United Methodist Open Door to better reflect our purpose and mission to provide food, clothing and shelter and to reflect service to the 11-county area served by our Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

A $5.4 million capital campaign was launched in 2009 to develop a Resource and Referral Center to serve the needs of homeless individuals and families and those living in poverty. The campaign, chaired by Steve Martens, CEO of the Martens Companies, received significant community-wide support from the faith community, individuals and families, local corporations, national and local charitable foundations and local government. Despite the worst economy since the great depression, we successfully completed the campaign in late 2011.

The center, located at 402 E. 2nd Street in the heart of downtown Wichita, opened in February 2012 and houses our Homeless Resource Center, Klothes Kloset, Vision Quest homeless prevention program, Family Rapid Re-housing program and administrative offices. Truly a one-of-a-kind facility, it brings together not only Open Door’s programs, but the on-site services of COMCARE Center City, GraceMed Health Clinic, Hunter Health Clinic and other community partners working to address issues of poverty, homelessness and access to basic healthcare.

Today, Open Door serves approximately 38,210 unduplicated people each year through six programs located at three sites: Community Food Ministry, Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Klothes Kloset, Homeless Resource Center, Vision Quest homeless prevention program and the Family Rapid Rehousing program.

Our Board of Directors, staff and volunteers are as committed today as we were in 1965, ensuring that people living in poverty have a voice and access to the services needed to become self-sufficient.