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The Salvation Army began in 1865
The Salvation army was birthed in 1865, when William Booth, a London minister, gave up the comfort of his pulpit and decided to take his message into the streets where it would reach the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute.His original aim was to send converts to established churches of the day, but soon he realized that the poor did not feel comfortable or welcome in the pews of most of the churches and chapels of Victorian England. Regular churchgoers were appalled when these shabbily dressed, unwashed people came to join them in worship.Booth decided to found a church especially for them — the East London Christian Mission. The mission grew slowly, but Booth’s faith in God remained undiminished.In May of 1878, Booth summoned his son, Bramwell, and his good friend George Railton to read a proof of the Christian Mission’s annual report. At the top it read: THE CHRISTIAN MISSION is A VOLUNTEER ARMY. Bramwell strongly objected to this wording. He was not a volunteer: he was compelled todo God’s work. So, in a flash of inspiration, Booth crossed out “Volunteer” and wrote “Salvation”. The Salvation Army was born.
What is The Salvation Army?
The Salvation Army is an integral part of the Christian Church, although distinctive in government and practice. The Army’s doctrine follows the mainstream of Christian belief and its articles of faith emphasise God’s saving purposes. Its objects are ‘the advancement of the Christian religion… of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole.’*The movement, founded in 1865 by William Booth, has spread from London, England, to many parts of the world.
The rapid deployment of the first Salvationists was aided by the adoption of a quasi-military command structure in 1878 when the title, ‘The Salvation Army’, was brought into use. A similarly practical organisation today enables resources to be equally flexible. Responding to a recurrent theme in Christianity which sees the Church engaged in spiritual warfare, the Army has used to advantage certain soldierly features such as uniforms, flags and ranks to identify, inspire and regulate its endeavours.
Evangelistic and social enterprises are maintained, under the authority of the General, by full-time officers and employees, as well as soldiers who give service in their free time. The Army also benefits from the support of many adherents and friends, including those who serve on advisory boards. Leadership in the Army is provided by commissioned officers who are recognised ministers of religion.
Preaching the Gospel
All Salvationists accept a disciplined and compassionate life of high moral standards which includes abstinence from alcohol and tobacco. From its earliest days the Army has accorded women equal opportunities, every rank and service being open to them and from childhood the young are encouraged to love and serve God.Raised to evangelise, the Army spontaneously embarked on schemes for the social betterment of the poor. Such concerns have since developed, wherever the Army operates, in practical, skilled and cost-effective ways. Evolving social services meet endemic needs and specific crises worldwide. Modern facilities and highly-trained staff are employed.
Modern facilities and longer-term development is under continual review. Increasingly the Army’s policy and its indigenous membership allow it to cooperate with international relief agencies and governments alike.
The movement’s partnership with both private and public philanthropy will continue to bring comfort to the needy, while the proclamation of God’s redemptive love offers individuals and communities the opportunity to enjoy a better life on earth and a place in Christ’s everlasting Kingdom.