While researchers began their work at The Salvation Army Social Justice Research Center (SRJC) last spring, Trevecca Nazarene University and representatives of The Salvation Army dedicated the center yesterday.
Special guests attended a luncheon, followed by a dedication ceremony on the lawn outside of Marks Guest House on Trevecca’s campus, which houses the SRJC.
“My vision for the social justice center is to look at not only what the United States government is doing to address the issue of poverty, but also what The Salvation Army is doing to address poverty and social injustice in this world,” said Southern Territorial Commander Commissioner Donald Bell at the luncheon preceding the dedication ceremony. “My vision is that this partnership with your students and our scholars will be able to actually give us the information that we need.”
The unique partnership between the University and The Salvation Army is centered on a shared belief in applying biblical social justice in the real world. The work of the SRJC, led by director Lt. Colonel Vern Jewett and staffed by researchers Terri Neville and Curtis Elliot and office manager Lt. Colonel Martha Jewett, is centered on sound research that helps The Salvation Army identify best practices to combat social injustice and give a voice to those who are marginalized.
It’s a conviction the University has long shared, reflected in Trevecca’s own J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, which is housed in Marks Guest House alongside the SRJC. Neville and Elliot’s SRJC research will be integrated into social justice classes. Neville and Elliot are currently working on two research projects. One is focused on The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program; the other centered on areas of deep poverty in West Virginia.
Dr. Dan Boone, Trevecca’s president, spoke briefly at the dedication, stressing his desire that the work of the SRJC will have far-reaching effects.
“It is our prayer that the work of this center will resound in local corps and communities and congregations across the city that we might be able to help people move from poverty as a recycling of need to a point where they are thriving members of the community,” Boone said. “We are profoundly proud to be a part of this center … We are excited for this, with this and offer prayers that God will bless this center.”
Jamie Casler, director of the J.V. Morsch Center for Social Justice, offered a prayer at the dedication ceremony, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring SRJC staff, Bell, and Boone.
“We love being here on this campus,” said Jewett. “This is the day we dedicate this program to the Lord.”