The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
A Brief History
The Salvation Army was founded in London in 1865 by one-time Methodist minister William Booth and his wife Catherine. The Salvation Army is modeled after the military, with its own flag, uniforms and its own music. Booth became the “General” and his other ministers were given appropriate ranks as “officers”. Other members became “soldiers”.
William Booth became known as the General, Catherine was known as the “Mother of The Salvation Army”. William preached to the poor, and Catherine spoke to the wealthy, gaining financial support for their work. William Booth described the organization’s approach: “The three ‘S’s’ best expressed the way in which the Army administered to the ‘down and outs’: first, soup; second, soap; and finally, salvation.”
In 1880, The Salvation Army started its work in three other countries: Australia, Ireland, and the United States. It was not always an official officer of the Salvation Army who started The Salvation Army in a new country; sometimes Salvationists immigrated to countries and started operating as “the Salvation Army” on their own authority. When the first official officers arrived in Australia and the United States, they found groups of Salvationists already waiting for them.
The Salvation Army’s main converts were at first alcoholics, morphine addicts, prostitutes and other “undesirables” unwelcomed into polite Christian society, which helped prompt the Booths to start their own church. The Booths did not include the use of sacraments (mainly baptism and Holy Communion) in the Army’s form of worship, believing that many Christians had come to rely on the outward signs of spiritual grace rather than on grace itself. Other beliefs are that our members should completely refrain from drinking alcohol (Holy Communion is not practiced), smoking, taking illegal drugs and gambling. Our soldiers wear a uniform tailored to the country in which they work; the uniform can be white, grey, navy, fawn and are even styled like a sari in some areas. Any member of the public is welcome to attend our meetings.
The Salvation Army’s reputation in the United States began after we provided disaster relief efforts after the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The establishment of Victorian bell-ringers raising charity today “helps complete the American portrait of Christmas”, with over 25,000 volunteers taking up kettles over the holiday period in the U.S. alone. The church remains highly visible in many parts of the world.
In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility conducted by Nye Lavalle & Associates. The study showed that The Salvation Army was ranked as the 4th “most popular charity/non-profit in America”.