REV. DORA ATLAS RECEIVES HONORARY DOCTORATE
Doctor of Humane Letters
Dora Louise Atlas
Rev. Dora Atlas, at the age of 96, is the oldest living and serving graduate of Hood Theological Seminary (HTS). She is also the first female graduate of the Seminary. She has made significant contributions in ministry and in social community uplift.
In August 1989, Rev. Atlas retired as minister of the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheboro, NC, which she served for nine years. After 17 years in ministry, Rev. Atlas retired and immediately began work on developing a soup kitchen to be financed with her social security check and personal savings. She was unaware of the magnitude of the community's response to her initiative. To her surprise, the Asheboro Housing Authority offered the first home for the soup kitchen at a former daycare center, rent free. Rev. Atlas estimated serving five or six persons per day, but when the kitchen opened on January 16, 1990, there were eight adults and thirteen children to be fed and "Our Daily Bread Kitchen, Inc." ran out of food. The newspaper headlines the next day read, "Our Daily Bread, Ran Out of Bread!" The shortage of food was never a repeat problem.
The community responded to Rev. Atlas' initiative - Our Daily Bread Kitchen, Inc. - in a grand fashion. Community members and businesses donated food, drinks, paper products, kitchen accessories, kitchen equipment, and many other essential items. Senior inmates at the Randolph Correctional Center planted a garden and harvested food for the kitchen. Members of a local church grew a "hunger garden" on four acres that produced plentiful vegetables and volunteers worked preparing food to be frozen and stored for winter eating, Other community members participated by cooking, serving, and cleaning. After several years of operation, Rev. Atlas suggested to the board that they seek their own place. The Board purchased the property across the street from the Housing Authority. A major campaign was initiated and a permanent structure was built and paid for by generous contributions from the community. In February 2013, "Our Daily Bread, Inc.” celebrated twenty-five years of serving hot meals to meet the nutritional needs of marginalized citizens. The program serves more than 10,000 meals annually, five days a week.
Rev. Dora Atlas also initiated the Prison Ministry in Randolph County and the Habitat for Humanity in Asheboro, NC, donating the first piece of property, where a home was built for a family.
Nearly forty years ago she entered HTS as a campus resident in Walls Center. She was accompanied by her 12 year old son, Paul Atlas, who is now an Ordained A.M.E. Zion Elder and an HTS Doctor of Ministry candidate. Rev. Atlas, in spite of her late life entry into Christian ministry, has forged exemplary spiritual leadership and distinguished social impact representative of the mission of Hood Theological Seminary.