During the 1970s, members of Salem recognized that war and political upheaval in Southeast Asia had created a great number of people who had been forced to leave their homelands. Members felt called as Christians to reach out and sponsor a family.
Working with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the congregation welcomed a family of nine members from Vietnam. They arrived in July 1975 and were provided with housing, food, clothing and financial support. A six-room apartment was located for them in the community, and their children were enrolled in local schools. The Catonsville Times reported that they were the first refugee family from Vietnam to settle in Catonsville.
Several years later, Salem decided that the congregation could now assist a second family. June 1979 saw the arrival of a family of five fleeing Vietnam. A small row house was located to house them, and on a Sunday afternoon, the church held a “Clean-In” to get it ready. Within a year, the entire family-father, mother, and three daughters- were baptized at Salem.
Twenty years later, Salem once again worked with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service to assist a displaced family. On June 3, 1999, a family of six from Kosovo arrived in Catonsville and moved into a townhouse made ready for them by church members. Forced to flee their home by Serbian gunmen, they had spent several months in a refugee camp and were happy to begin a new life in the United States.
Political crisis in the Sudan caused many to flee their homes. Once again Salem reached out to a displaced family, who arrived on September 21, 2004, following an extended stay in a refugee camp in Egypt. After settling in their new home in America, the parents requested that Pastor consecrate their earlier village marriage with a ceremony in the church. The ceremony was followed by a potluck dinner provided by Salem members and the family’s new friends in the local Sudanese community.
Currently, Salem is exploring the possibility of sponsoring another refugee family.