SALEM RESETTLEMENT OF REFUGEES PROGRESSING
The possibility that a refugee family will be resettled in Salem next year moved closer this month when the pastor who is heading the effort addressed representatives of Salem Area Ecumenical Ministries (SAEM).
The Rev. Bryan Buckles of Central United Methodist Church said before his dream can come to pass, six to 10 congregations must commit to helping raise at least $6,000.
Currently, Buckles told SAEM supporters at the first seasonal meeting at College Lutheran Church, definite interest has come from United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Disciples of Christ groups.
He added that before informing Commonwealth Catholic Charities that the local churches are ready, there should be in place from each congregation three persons with the time and commitment to handle finances, serve as coordinator of volunteers and be overall chair of the project.
As envisioned by Buckles, the Salem congregations, known as Salem Refugee Partnership Group (SRPG), will work closely with Commonwealth Catholic Charities, an agency which last year resettled more than 800 households.
Working with this long-respected agency, the pastor said, is a group of churches in Blacksburg where several households have been led to self-sufficiency. These New River Valley churches have committed to basic help for homeless people for one year.
The Salem group will start more simply with a commitment of six months.
Buckles pointed out that the project has no connection with sheltering illegal aliens. People from other countries may be in the United States voluntarily as students or those leaving their nation voluntarily for better work. Refugees have fled on pain of death for religious, political or other reasons.
BENNE ENDS MUSEUM SERIES ON COLLEGE SOUL
Dr. Robert Benne, retired religion professor at Roanoke College and author of a new book, “Keeping the Soul in Higher Education–A History of Roanoke College” concluded his series of lectures on presidents of the Salem school by expressing the hope that it would continue to be strongly Christian-related. He spoke at the recent monthly meeting of The Salem Historical Society held at The Salem Museum.
With the college celebrating its 175th year since founding in the mid-19th Century, the many men and one woman who have led the Lutheran-related institution have varied widely in the attention they gave to the religious life of students
Benne, who comes of conservative Midwestern background and has lived in Salem since 1982, has found disturbing the trend of colleges begun 150 or more years ago to drop their religion roots and look favorably on purely secularized academic education. In his book and in previous talks at the museum, he has lauded the administration of the late Dr. Norman Fintel who died earlier this year. Fintel, who served during the 1970s and 1980s, returned the college to its early emphasis on faculty control and suitable student behavior, the speaker asserted. In the prior administration great progress was made in such matters as raising funds and academic recognition. However, Benne deplores the drinking, casual sex and what he sees as a breakdown of traditional Lutheran values.
Under the present administration of Dr. Michael Maxey, reared Baptist before his change to Lutheran years ago, Benne sees a chance for the school to remain both relevant to young adults but strongly grounded in religious life.
-compiled by correspondent Frances Stebbins