Last month we had our annual reunion of ‘Fijis’ at the OSU-UCLA football game. It’s a loyal group of fraternity brothers who gather to regale old stories and catch up on families.  We all lived in the Phi Gamma Delta house in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and it’s amazing to see how deeply bonded a bunch of guys can be from spending a few short years in college together.

As I practice the act of Thanksgiving, I want to salute the late/great Scott Ashdown (1959-2015), one of my ‘pledge bros’ in the Fall of 1977.  He was among the Medford-area pod of guys and a varsity OSU golfer.  Scott was best known, however, for his humble spirit and deeply-held Christian faith.  He started a fellowship that got dubbed ‘The God Squad.’ Those brothers had to endure more than a little ribbing as they refrained from the Fiji weekend party atmosphere.

As a fellow believer I secretly admired them.  But as a newly-independent college student, I was stretching my boundaries.  When I arrived in Corvallis, I visited the Episcopal parish to see if it was like my hometown church, St. Paul’s.  Didn’t click.  Based on my great experience with Young Life at South Salem High, I looked for a similar fellowship on campus.  A.C. Green, the legendary OSU basketball star, was involved with Maranatha Ministries, but they were too charismatic for me.  So, I partied.

Scott and a fellow Saxon, Dave Thompson, kept me close.  They knew when to admonish me and when to lay back.  They engaged my late-night debates and endured my questioning rants. Sometimes it was with a Bible in hand.  Sometimes a beer.  Oftentimes both.  Scott and Dave were the sturdy dock to which my boat of faith was tethered, and even if the tether got stretched, they never let it come loose.  Obviously, God was my ultimate anchor; Scott and Dave were the agents He used.  Two angels, really, with a mission of ministering to me and, ultimately, scores of brothers in the Fiji house.

At the recent reunion, it was encouraging to hear how many brothers have a walk of faith.  Some are in ministry like me.  Many have strong walks with their families and congregations.  Others are on a path of discovery.  None of us who met Scott was untouched by the influence of the Holy Spirit and Scott’s genial model of faith in what was a wild-and-wooly season for all of us.

Phi Gamma Delta has a motto: “Not for College Days Alone.”  Eternal thanks Brother Scott!  


It’s a tradition – and a big part of SLF’s budget-planning – to conduct the ‘YEM’ this time of year.  YEM stands for ‘Year-end Match’ and we are very fortunate to have a group of SLF friends whose gifts provide the basis-dollars for the match.  This year that amount is $105,000, and we’re inviting you – as you are able – to help us make the match by December 31.

As we have been signaling since June’s Fancy Friday, the coming year will be a very unusual chapter in SLF’s history.  I will be ‘cross-training’ the new Executive Director during 2024.  This means we will have an unusually large payroll expense … in addition to supporting the regular bridge-building work our team engages in the neighborhoods.  It’ll be for just one year, but what a year it will be, and we are asking for the help of our partners.

We will continue to help churches build capacity to serve their neighbors (CaN Centers network).  We will continue to help schools, nonprofits and neighborhood associations expand their programs (Community Partnership Teams – CPTs).  We will continue to deploy ‘Lightning Rods’ into the neighborhoods to resource partners as they serve kids, families, neighbors in need.

We know times are uncertain.  So we make this YEM request gently and with faith.  Thanks for all you do to strengthen the Shalom – the peace and well-being – of Salem-Keizer’s people and its diverse neighborhoods.   With (Happy) Thanksgiving …

WEB: You can  give online at – look for the Year-End Match (YEM) box.

(503) 315-8924  •  Salem Leadership Foundation  •  PO Box 7384  •  Salem, OR 97303-0083