Ministers to fight Salem drug crisis with prayer drive

SALEM- The Salem Ministerial Association is taking a prayer-positive approach to the drug epidemic sweeping the city.

According to Secretary/Treasurer Tony Maroni, a minister at Faith Chapel Fellowship, the association will introduce the Prayer Works campaign during Monday’s Memorial Day parade, distributing bookmarks with the Prayer Works logo and a list of all the association’s affiliated churches.

Congregation members are encouraged to march in the parade to help distribute nearly 5,000 bookmarks. The group will meet at 9:30 a.m. at Tri-County Church of God.

The parade distribution is the first phase of a three-phase campaign aimed at making those suffering from addiction aware of how to get help, Maroni said.

“Simply get the message out there,” he said of the first phase. “[Prayer Works] is a simple but profound message. Hopefully those in need of help will consider prayer.”

The second phase will include T-shirts with the logo and prayer hotline that volunteers will wear during the Steel Valley Super Nationals and Salem Super Cruise next month. The third phase will feature a yard sign program similar to the Rotary’s flag program, in which the signs will include the prayer hotline.

“The hope is to hit our community and get the message out there,” Maroni said.

The campaign is scheduled to culminate in August during the Grande Parade and end with a rally at Faith Chapel Fellowship, Maroni noted.

“Rally the community together,” he said.

Maroni said the association began developing the campaign after Salem Police Chief T.J. Panezott spoke to the organization about the growing heroin and drug abuse problem a couple months ago.

“It is obvious that our community is hurting and making poor choices as they turn to drugs for relief,” he said “The prayer is that these in need will turn to one of our churches for help and prayer. The church community is the perfect place to help the wounded souls in our town.”

The campaign is also geared at service men and women, Maroni added.

“We need to pray for the men and women in the military as they face difficult situations on the battlefield and struggle to cope when they return home,” he said.

The Salem Ministerial Association is called to unite and align the strengths of the Christian Churches together to positively affect the community for Christ.