VICTORIA, B.C. -- As we wandered the busy and fetching waterfront here, we caught site of two large sailing ships that we simply had to go see up close, ignoring the monstrously extravagent yacht parked between them. (You can see one of the sailing ships and that yacht in this photo.)
These sailing ships each ran more than 100 feet in length (I suppose I should convert that to metric here in Canada, but you can do that on your own). And I saw a sign saying each belonged to a Christian organization called SALTS (Sail and Life Training Society), the goal of which is to train young people for life by having them spend time on the sea.
People from 13 to 25 years of age go on 5- or 10-day trips on these ships. I've come to think of SALTS as kind of a spiritual Outward Bound program, but on water, not land.
SALTS has been around since 1974. I ran into Tony Anderson, the executive project manager of new ship construction and "senior master," who has been with SALTS since 1982.
We didn't have long to talk but he was right when he told me the SALTS website has lots of information on it about the group. Especially take a look at this history page. Tony did tell me, however, in response to a question that SALTS is not attached to any particular Christian denomination but is, rather, ecumenical in makeup and approach.
The world seems to be full of specialized ministries aimed at people of different ages, from SALTS to Young Life, from the Knights of Columbus to the Kansas City Interfaith Youth Alliance. No doubt some are more effective than others, but the very existence of these groups is a testimony to people who have sensed a need and worked to fill it -- people you might call the SALTS of the Earth.
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ON THE WAY DOWN
It's not just Mainline Christian churches that are losing members. Now the numbers are declining for Southern Baptists, too. Discuss.