What We Do

SOUL, through various channels, seeks to recruit potential outreach workers and place them in urban ministries throughout Memphis. SOUL resources ministries through providing funding to Christian organizations that are called to expand their reach in the city. SOUL trains workers, through a two year curriculum covering the basic tenets of outreach, evangelism, discipleship, and educational programming, as well as other culturally relevant topics.

SOUL’s goal is to find individuals who are called to minister the Gospel to youth in neighborhoods that have been traditionally under-resourced. Furthermore, SOUL seeks to equip them to become stakeholders in the neighborhood that they are serving. As a result, we hope our efforts promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that reaches the youth of our communities, allows our neighborhoods to thrive, and transform our city in a way that glorifies God.

Who We’re Reaching

SOUL seeks to attract ministries and leaders who are passionate about reaching youth for the Gospel and transforming communities through service and empowerment. We are committed to adequately supporting and equipping youth workers to spread the gospel effectively to the young people that they have been called to serve.

Who We Are

Ken Bennett – Executive Director

Ken Bennett started STREETS Ministries in1987, after entering the South Memphis neighborhood of Cleaborn and Foote Homes. He served as its Executive Director until February 2014 when he started SOUL for the city to train, empower and resource youth leaders throughout Memphis. SOUL is a ministry of Streets.

Ken has his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Memphis. Ken has been married to Debbie for over thirty years. Debbie is the Testing Coordinator at New Hope Christian Academy in Frayser. They have three children: Kristin, Matthew and Emily

Ken has received the following awards:

  • 1993 Lyndhurst Prize Winner (previous winners include Maya Angelou and Alice Walker)
  • 2002 East Memphis Rotary Club Citizen of the Year
  • 2003 Thomas W. Briggs Foundation Community Service Award
  • 2008 President’s Humanitarian Award Memphis Theological Seminary
  • 2009 President’s Award Memphis Cotton Carnival
  • 2011 University of Memphis Distinguished Alumnus Award

Publications and Features:

  • New York Times 1992
  • Atlanta Constitution 1992
  • Memphis Flyer Cover 1995
  • Memphis Magazine 1996
  • University of Memphis Magazine 1997
  • Featured in the German Non-Fiction Book: Is America Working?
  • 2004 ESPN 2 Special: Featuring Antonio Burks
  • 2004 Book: Street Saints
  • 2008 France Newspaper Liberation

Community Work

  • 2004-Present University of Memphis Men’s Basketball Team Chaplain
  • New Hope Christian Academy Board Member

Ruth Abigail Smith

Ruth Abigail Smith was born and raised in Houston, TX. She graduated from Second Baptist High School in 2005 and in 2009 graduated from Furman University, earning a degree in both communications and music. Ruth Abigail moved to Memphis in 2010 and has served as both the Pathways Coordinator and Education Coordinator at STREETS – Graham Heights. Ruth Abigail desires to make a difference in the lives of young people in communities that are often neglected by so many people. She believes that without Christ there is no real change and that He is the only cause worth working for. For the past four years STREETS has given her the unique opportunity to combine her passion of impacting this generation with her passion for Christ. She will continue to serve the city to that end as a member of the SOUL staff.

Our History

Having identified the growing need for youth outreach leaders in the urban areas of Memphis, Ken Bennett launched SOUL (Sending Out Urban Leaders) for the city, in February 2014. The mission of SOUL is to recruit, train, and resource individuals to reach kids in underserved areas with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.