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Letters to the editor

September 21, 2003

Fight for state centers


To the editor:

There are forces in Maryland that are pressuring state officials to close all state residential centers for individuals with mental retardation (SRC/MR) and move residents into group homes. These SRCs are: Holly Center (Salisbury), Potomac Center (Hagerstown), Rosewood Center (Owings Mills), and Brandenburg Center (Cumberland).

Many of the people who are advocating the extreme measure of closing all SRCs are owners/operators of group homes. They stand to make substantial amounts of money if current SRC residents, and individuals who become eligible in the future, are all forced to move into group homes.

Yes, there are some people who will make money if SRCs are closed. But what will be the financial cost to Maryland taxpayers? One study has predicted that moving residents from SRCs to group homes would significantly increase costs.

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Therefore, closing SRCs would not only remove a residential option for individuals with MR, it could result in a greatly increased tax burden on Maryland citizens. And group homes have been known to go out of business, leaving the disabled residents virtually homeless. This is unacceptable.

One organization that is pushing for SRC closure, the Developmental Disabilities Quality Coalition (a pro group-home lobby) has made the amazing statement that "cost is a non-issue." Cost is not an issue? This will be news to Gov. Robert Ehrlich and Maryland legislators, whose responsibility it is to be fiscally responsible and spend taxpayer dollars wisely. Of course cost is an issue. Not the only issue, but an important one.

Closing all SRCs would be gambling with the lives of individuals with MR, and with taxpayers' money.

I urge you to contact Gov. Ehrlich's office and your local legislators. Tell them: "Keep SRCs open!"

Geoff Smoot
Hebron, Md.




New times, same challenge


To the editor:

One hundred and seventy years ago, almost to the day, a poet-preacher offered a fiery sermon in England whose message reverberated around the world. Just nine years later in response to that message, a small Episcopal school was founded in rural Western Maryland by the name of Saint James.

The unlikely text chosen by that English preacher that day was 1 Samuel 12:23. The reformation it began became known as the Oxford Movement. Most importantly, the sermon and the movement it began inspired significant changes in the Episcopal Church even amongst those who were not its adherents:

The sovereignty of God was stressed as opposed to a human-centered Gospel. Both the laity and the clergy were urged to fervently pursue a life of holiness. Each day was to be framed by personal prayer and the ardent study of scripture. Corporate worship was to be alive with the ministry of word and sacrament. Our connection to the ancient apostolic faith was to be strengthened. The church was to remain an essential counter-cultural voice.

The Bishop of Oxford at that time, who attempted to slow this reformation, observed, "The system in question (the Oxford Movement), instead of being an easy comfortable form of religion, adapting itself to modern habits and luxurious tastes, is uncompromisingly stern and severe - laying the greatest stress upon self-discipline and denial - encouraging fasting, alms-deeds and prayer, to an extent of which the present generation, at least, knows nothing - and inculcating a deference to authority which is wholly opposed to the spirit of the age."

The Oxford Movement became one catalyst in the 19th century renaissance of the Episcopal Church in the United States and in our larger communion abroad. The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Saint John's Parish, Hagerstown, and Saint Mark's Parish, Lappans were all in some way affected by this restoration of our church.

As we begin another school year here at Saint James, I find that I am incredibly grateful for these tenets of faith extended to us by our courageous founders. Perhaps, as Episcopalians try to work through the much-publicized, divisive decisions made at our general convention, we would do well to reflect and act upon these principles expressed during another challenging time in our denomination's history.

The Rev. Patrick Gahan
Chaplain, St. James
Hagerstown




Credit board for Marshall


To the editor:

The Washington County Board of Education, and Betty Morgan in particular, are to be commended for the improvements being made at the Marshall Street School.

The school staff work very hard at taking care of children with special needs that attend the school. Recently the carpet has been replaced, greatly improving movement within the building, and the unique safety issues currently are being addressed.

MIHI has been pleased to witness the recognition of the issues and the response by the school administration.

William K. Beard Jr.
Executive Director
MIHI Inc., Hagerstown




Sin a motive


To the editor:

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