Memphis Union Mission

The information in this column was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 12/16/2020. To update the information in this column, please email:


Memphis Union Mission is a Christian ministry that reaches out to the homeless and destitute of our city.

Contact information

Mailing address:
Memphis Union Mission
P.O. Box 330
Memphis, TN 38101


Phone: (901) 526-8403


Organization details

EIN: 620541811

CEO/President: Mr. D. Scott Bjork

Chairman: John Roberts

Board size: 11

Founder: Jimmy Stroud & T. Walker Lewis

Year founded: 1951

Tax deductible: Yes

Fiscal year end: 09/30

Member of ECFA: Yes

Member of ECFA since: 2005


The Mission's ultimate objective is for clients to: 1.) Become mature followers of Jesus Christ, 2.) Achieve freedom from substance abuse, 3.) Reunite with family and loved ones, and 4.) Reemerge as self-sufficient members of the community.

Mission statement

Memphis Union Mission exists to glorify God and make disciples of Jesus Christ by ministering to the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of men and women who are homeless or destitute.

Statement of faith

Transparency grade


To understand our transparency grade, click here.

Financial efficiency ratings

Sector: Rescue Missions/Homeless Shelters

CategoryRatingOverall rankSector rank
Overall efficiency rating756 of 940129 of 160
Fund acquisition rating662 of 942114 of 160
Resource allocation rating585 of 942101 of 160
Asset utilization rating684 of 940127 of 160

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Balance sheet
Receivables, inventories, prepaids$1,531,243$2,850,658$4,410,283$3,177,882$1,304,614
Short-term investments$1,275,493$2,860,407$2,840,573$2,654,211$2,115,224
Other current assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total current assets$7,113,664$12,946,793$15,175,802$11,986,896$8,094,808
Long-term investments$0$0$0$0$0
Fixed assets$4,205,253$5,345,121$5,243,415$5,368,809$5,428,765
Other long-term assets$14,304,661$5,652,565$1,626,955$1,037,258$613,650
Total long-term assets$18,509,914$10,997,686$6,870,370$6,406,067$6,042,415
Total assets$25,623,578$23,944,479$22,046,172$18,392,963$14,137,223
Payables and accrued expenses$105,795$1,238,935$216,115$276,301$113,318
Other current liabilities$0$0$0$4,854$1,739
Total current liabilities$105,795$1,238,935$216,115$281,155$115,057
Due to (from) affiliates$0$0$0$0$0
Other long-term liabilities$3,298,546$0$0$0$0
Total long-term liabilities$3,665,180$35,264$34,055$20,801$21,794
Total liabilities$3,770,975$1,274,199$250,170$301,956$136,851
Net assets20202019201820172016
Without donor restrictions$21,852,603$18,271,152$13,560,218$12,179,512$11,299,632
With donor restrictions$0$4,399,128$8,235,784$5,911,495$2,700,740
Net assets$21,852,603$22,670,280$21,796,002$18,091,007$14,000,372
Revenues and expenses
Total contributions$5,802,247$3,895,383$6,732,872$6,939,662$4,364,850
Program service revenue$322,856$346,619$364,627$350,078$330,536
Membership dues$0$0$0$0$0
Investment income$320,113$201,663$370,838$204,798$76,344
Other revenue$24,687$35,138$23,649$5,303$12,903
Total other revenue$667,656$583,420$759,114$560,179$419,783
Total revenue$6,469,903$4,478,803$7,491,986$7,499,841$4,784,633
Program services$5,522,425$2,470,177$2,430,966$2,380,961$2,347,337
Management and general$764,509$418,362$430,714$403,688$390,860
Total expenses$7,120,587$3,620,621$3,710,298$3,646,794$3,593,754
Change in net assets20202019201820172016
Surplus (deficit)($650,684)$858,182$3,781,688$3,853,047$1,190,879
Other changes in net assets$0$0$0$0$0
Total change in net assets($650,684)$858,182$3,781,688$3,853,047$1,190,879


Donald Scott BjorkPresident & CEO$157,439
Daniel WeaverVP Finance & Administration$98,690

Compensation data as of: 9/30/2020

Response from ministry

No response has been provided by this ministry.

The information below was provided to MinistryWatch by the ministry itself. It was last updated 12/16/2020. To update the information below, please email:


The year was 1945. As World War II drew to a close, a young man from Charleston, West Virginia, named Jimmy Stroud, was given a vision. Jimmy's life had been radically transformed after being led to Christ at the Charleston Union Mission. Jimmy now knew that God was calling him to start a new mission in another city; he just didn't know where.

At the same time, Christian businessman T. Walker Lewis saw that his home town of Memphis, Tennessee desperately needed a mission of its own. After hearing about Jimmy, Mr. Lewis invited him to Memphis in April to see if he would be the man to lead the new ministry.

When the two men finally met face-to-face, they knew that God had brought them together. "My prayers are answered," Lewis pronounced as he slapped his hand on his desk. "This is the man!" On June 17, 1945, the two men's unified vision became a reality, and Memphis Union Mission was founded. No sooner had the Mission been founded than Jimmy established several goals for the new ministry. One goal was to hold chapel services every night of the year. Other goals included providing a place for homeless men to sleep and eat. In late 1945, these goals were accomplished when the Mission opened its first home at 107-111 Poplar Ave. -- a former saloon and gambling hall. At this location, Memphis Union Mission provided homeless and alcoholic men with what was referred to as "the wonderful three" - soup, soap and salvation.

Due to construction of Memphis' convention center, the Mission moved to its current location at 383 Poplar Ave. in 1963. The western half of the building served as a ministry to the down and out, while the eastern half served as a hall for Youth For Christ rallies. After the rallies discontinued in 1968, the entire building was consolidated for the sole purpose of ministering to the homeless. The facility, now known as the Men's Emergency Shelter and located at 383 Poplar Ave., is where Memphis Union Mission continues to minister to hundreds of hurting and homeless Memphians every day. Soon after the Mission was founded, Jimmy recognized that men recovering from alcoholism needed a retreat where they could seek long-term help.

That help was created in June 1953, when the Mud Island Chapel was founded. Isolated by the waters of the Mississippi River and reachable only by boat, the Mud Island facility housed men wanting to escape the addictive snare of alcohol as they did chores and attended daily chapel services.

But after five years, Jimmy realized that the Mission needed a more permanent facility for the recovery program. The property on Mud Island wasn't for sale, and electric power and transportation provided constant problems. So in 1958, the Mission received 160 acres of beautiful land on Benjestown Road as a generous donation, and the Mud Island facilities were moved there. The facility - formed into the shape of a cross - was completed in August 1959 and renamed Calvary Colony. The property on Benjestown Road continues to house men who are enrolled in the Mission's long-term recovery program. In the mid-1940's, radio was the dominant form of communication and entertainment in America. Jimmy knew that radio could be an irreplaceable tool for spreading the Gospel, as well as a way to gain publicity for the Mission. After praying about the possibility of doing a daily show, Jimmy contacted WREC and discovered that the Mission wouldn't be charged anything for a six day-a-week broadcast. On February 25, 1946, the Mission broadcast its very first show, called "Above the Clouds," from WREC's studios in the Peabody Hotel. Each show featured special music and short devotionals by guest speakers.

In the 1950's, television quickly replaced radio as the common form of communication. To keep current with the times, "Above the Clouds" began a daily television program on WREG Channel 3 in 1956. Broadcast six days a week at 6:45 a.m., the format of the show remained similar to the radio program. It remained a staple of Channel 3's morning program until Verla Pettit's retirement in 1989. In the days preceding the Vietnam War, Jimmy Stroud developed a burden for the thousands of young men stationed at the nearby naval base in Millington. Feeling that God had provided a vast field for the harvest, Jimmy opened the Servicemen's Center at 81 N. Second in 1966. Every weekend, a bus from the Mission would visit the naval base, pick up a load of young men and take them to the center. Snacks and recreation games were available, and Bible studies were frequently held.

At the same time, Jimmy and Verla Pettit, who eventually became the Mission's second superintendent, began actively planning for a Christian camp adjacent to Calvary Colony. Jimmy and Verla felt that a Bible camp and conference grounds would provide a valuable service to the local Christian community, and it would also bring added funds to the Mission. So, on March 26, 1971, Victory Valley officially opened its doors for its first conference - a women's retreat sponsored by the Victory Valley Women's Auxiliary.

By 1970, the ministry to servicemen moved to a lakeside lodge at Victory Valley, and Verla hosted the men throughout the 1970's and 80's. In the early 2000's, Victory Valley was closed as a camping and retreat center, and the property was absorbed into the men's recovery program.

The Lord has continued to open new doors for Memphis Union Mission to minister in the community.

One such area is family ministry. Throughout the late 1990's, intact homeless families began coming to the Mission seeking help. The Mission staff began praying about providing short-term housing to such families, and those prayers were answered in the form of the Intact Homeless Family Ministry. Construction of eight homes began in 1998, and by spring of the next year, three fully-furnished homes had been completed. In May 1999, the first family moved into one of the homes. Another addition was the Wright Transitional House, which opened in August 2002. This facility can house up to 26 men who have graduated from the Mission's long-term recovery program and who are preparing the transition back into the community. The men reside in single-dwelling apartments on the second and third floors, adjoined by two common living areas, showers, restrooms and public telephones. A main kitchen and dining area will also be constructed, along with a special apartment to house a live-in supervisor. The first floor houses the Mission's administrative offices.

In 2001, the Mission also launched its annual Inner City Outreach as an effort to do a concentrated outreach to people in the inner city. Held under a large tent in downtown Memphis, the event is held every May with the help of various church sponsors. And each night of the outreach, hundreds of men, women, and children are fed and ministered to. Another recent change was the relocation of the Mission's Moriah House. This ministry to women and children was formerly located in Midtown. However, due to several structural issues, the Mission launched a successful capital campaign in 2005 to relocate Moriah House to a brand-new building in East Memphis. The new facility was opened in 2007.

Other recent opportunities include opening the new Opportunity Center at 600 Poplar Ave. in June 2010, which allowed the Mission to expand some of its services to the homeless in Downtown Memphis. Most recently, the Mission was able to purchase property in 2012 behind its current Emergency Shelter at 383 Poplar Ave. This gives Memphis Union Mission a total of 3.1 acres at that site, where it plans to expand to minister to more needy people and provide new services.

Since 1945, Memphis Union Mission has gone through many changes, but its ultimate purpose - preaching and promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ - has never changed. It has brought food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, clothes to the naked and comfort to the weary - that all may come to know Christ.

Program accomplishments