Salvation Army looking to move, other ministries ponder ripple effects

CENTRAL TEXAS — The Salvation Army of Waco has been looking for a new home for a few years now and they’re one step closer to making that happen. They say their downtown location is outdated and isn’t large enough to fit their needs, which prompted the desire to move.

The building on the corner of Third and Webster has been a helping hand in Waco for decades, providing refuge from the elements and serving meals to those in need.

One of their patrons says he’s thankful for it, and the other surrounding ministries.

“You know, we try our way, and then we need someone to say ‘Now try God’s way.’ There’s always hope,” said Dwayne, a lunch-goer at Gospel Cafe.

But with the facility getting so old, and so many clients coming in, the Salvation Army needs a new home.

In January, the Waco council voted to buy 10 acres of land on La Salle Avenue for almost $2 million, with a plan to sell it to the Salvation Army. But there are some concerns a move could come with unintended consequences.

“If they move to where the people’s at, that’s what counts,” said Dwayne.

However, the newly proposed location on La Salle is far removed from other ministries downtown, roughly two miles and a 40-minute walk. It has some of those programs wondering what it means for them.

“The Salvation Army domino, if that falls, it brings us closer to falling as well. Not that we will, but it takes us closer,” said John Cowley, mission member with Gospel Cafe.

The cafe serves lunch every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and customers only have to pay if they feel they’re able to do so. Right now, it’s a walkable distance between the Gospel Cafe and the Salvation Army. If that changes, no one knows exactly what that means for the homeless, or for the ministries.

“If the poor aren’t here, we’re going to move someplace to where they are,” Cowley said. “I hate to think that we’re not going to be here because we’ve been here for so long. But, we can move.”

Cowley says that he hopes the city can come up with some solutions to transport patrons from places like the Gospel Cafe and Mission Waco to the property on La Salle.

According to the Salvation Army, their official announcement about their relocation may not come until the spring.

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