Who We Are
Buckner International is a vast organization founded in 1879 with the purpose of caring for widows and orphans based on the New Testament mandate of Jesus Christ. For nearly 130 years, Buckner has cared for the diversified needs of those Jesus called “the least of these.”
The mission statement of Buckner International defines us as “a multi-service agency dedicated to the restoration and healing of individuals and the family. In carrying out these services, Buckner adheres to Christian principles, which are ministered with professional competence. In all its operations and services, Buckner holds to the policies, principles and doctrines of the Baptist faith.”
Fulfilling that mission in the 21st century means Buckner as an organization must be willing to change and adapt to the changing needs of those we’re called to serve. And while that change is often thought of as changing our ministries and programs, Buckner is constantly being asked to change our geography, too. For more than 100 years, Buckner was primarily confined to ministry within the state boundaries of Texas. But continual pleas from across the United States and around the world for the expertise Buckner offers led us to expand our work. Today, Buckner works both as a consultant and practitioner to improve the lives of orphans, at-risk children, families and senior adults around the globe. Our years of experience position Buckner as a global leader in issues related to orphans and at-risk children.
With more than 1,000 employees around the world and a wide array of ministry programs, Buckner is a world leader in humanitarian services.
R. C. Buckner didn’t come to Texas with plans to start an orphan’s home. He and his family rode the 900 miles from Kansas for health reasons. But the Baptist preacher did God’s work wherever he landed.
He settled in Paris, Texas in 1859, when the state was still recovering from the Mexican War and settlers were fighting off Native Americans, not to mention disease and drought. And the Civil War was getting ready to break out. There was a lot of need. One of the biggest needs was that of an orphans’ home.
Buckner had the ability to feel for others, especially children. This drove him to organize a Deacon’s convention in 1877 to discuss the creation of an orphanage. Buckner initiated his first fund raising campaign, dropping a dollar in his hat and passing it among those gathered under a large oak tree. He raised $27, which provided the initial funds for the opening of the Buckner Orphans’ Home, now called Buckner Children’s Home in Dallas, Texas. The home admitted its first three orphans in 1879.
After that, Buckner used his favor with people and his mastery of words to rally people together to fund other Baptist orphanages, as well as hospitals, schools and support for the elderly. Houses for the elderly were lined up around the orphans’ home, with the retired missionaries and pastors doubling as grandparents for the kids.
It was a new movement of service. Before Buckner, there weren’t any organized Baptist benevolences in Texas. But he pulled Baptists of all convention affiliations in a new direction in the name of charity. And the effort wasn’t limited to Baptists. He also gained the support of Methodists, Jews, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Catholics who shared his values of helping those in need.
Buckner was ahead of his time. He worked towards healing between the races, founding the first high school in North Texas for blacks. He also broke ground for women, who had nowhere to study theology before he submitted a proposal to establish a women’s training school.
When Buckner died in 1919, his sons, Joe and Hal, and his grandson, Robert Cooke, took over his ministry. They were able to witness the organization’s continued growth and branching out to other parts of the state.
And Today, Buckner International operates programs throughout the world. The organization’s fifth president, Kenneth L. Hall, oversees what is now one of the largest private social care agencies of its kind in the United States.
Buckner International provides services that include residential child care, orphan care, adoption and foster-care services, prevention programs, senior adult services, missionary opportunities and a global humanitarian aid program, Shoes for Orphan Souls, which provides shoes for needy children around the world.
When he died at the age of 86, R.C. Buckner was buried in the only piece of property he still owned in Grove Hill Cemetery in Dallas. It was all he owned because he had given away everything else. Etched into his tombstone is the simple inscription, “Not one orphan child, but all orphan children.”
Little did Dr. Buckner know when he requested those words be put on his tombstone how prophetic he was being about the organization that now bears his name.
For nearly 130 years, Buckner International has sought to minister to the needs of those Jesus called “the least of these.” Or as James wrote in his epistle, “true and undefiled religion is this; to minister to widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
The ministries of Buckner stretch around the world. I believe with all my heart that when God shows a need to us, we have a responsibility to respond to that need. We can’t do everything, but we can do something.
The unique calling of Buckner is ministry to children and families. We don’t try to be or do everything. While we believe strongly in the local church, for example, we are not a church-starting organization. We are called to help orphans, at-risk children and families. We do that in a variety of ways, but it is with a single-minded, laser focus.
We want you to be part of what we do. I believe strongly that organizations like Buckner are selfish when we don’t invite and encourage others to participate in what we do. So consider this your invitation. You’ll find plenty of ways on this Web site for you to plug in and to begin having an impact today.