The Salvation Army
- Church, Charity and Social Services
The Salvation Army was founded in London, England by William Booth, who at that time was a Methodist Minister. Then in 1865 he started the movement which was originally named the Christian Mission. The name was later changed to The Salvation Army in 1878 to match it recently adopted quasi-military style and outlook.
The Salvation Army's main converts were at first alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes and other "undesirables" of society which the church at that time refused to have anything to do with. The Salvation Army grew rapidly and as it did it also created friction among certain people within the society at that time. These people hired thugs to disrupt, any way they could, Salvation army meetings and gatherings. These people grouped under the name of the Skeleton Army. Usual tactics used by this army were throwing rocks, rats, tar and physically assaulting members of The Salvation Army at these meetings.
At the turn of the 21st Century the Salvation army had grown to operate in over 100 countries world wide. This was through its focus on the needs of humankind. The phrase of "Heart to God and Hand to Man" was its focus and its driving goal which made The Salvation Army, in the United Kingdom especially, the largest provider of social welfare (eventide homes, homeless hostels, rehab centres) second only to the government.
One of the other common beliefs of the Salvation Army is that its members refrain from the drinking alcohol, smoking, taking illicit (illegal) drugs and gambling. These beliefs came from its founding on the streets on Victorian England.
The Salvation Army, is it has always been, a church "with its sleeves rolled up" and has always had a history of being involved in social action. It has over the world over (statistics taken from Salvation Army publications):
- Has more than 800 hostel catering for nearly 40,000 people throughout the year.
- Over 300 retraining centres.
- More than 2,000 food distribution centres, with additional emergency feeding programmes set up when and where needed.
- More than 700 eventide and elderly people homes.
- Nearly 300 hospitals and clinics.
- 202 children's homes
- 481 day nurseries and crèches
- 5 holiday homes
- 66 fresh-air camps
- 1,505 primary and secondary schools
- 32 domestic science and trade schools.
- 370 occupational and industrial centres for retraining and work experience
- Over 130 drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes
- 7 institutes provide a home and training for the blind
- Over 30 purpose-built homes for the physically handicapped
- Over 400 canteens, mobile units and hostels cater for the needs of people who serve in the armed forces.
- More than 10,000 missing relatives were traced through The Salvation Army's Missing Person's services
- Nearly 500,000 prisoners were visited and given help on discharge.
- Over 30 homes accommodate almost 900 young offenders.
- The Salvation Army's night patrols, rescue and anti-suicide missions helped around about 200,000 people last year alone.
- Nearly 300,000 people received counselling from Salvation Army personnel last year.
- 75 residences are provided for students and business people who need accommodation.
The Salvation Army, as part of its beliefs uphold the following 11 doctrines:
- We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God; and that they only constitute the divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
- We believe that there is only one God who is infinitely perfect - the Creator, Preserver and Governor of all things - and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
- We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead - the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost - undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
- We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the divine and human natures are united; so that he is truly and properly God, and truly and properly man.
- We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocence but, by their disobedience, they lost their purity and happiness; and that in consequence of their fall all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
- We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has, by his suffering and death, made an atonement for the whole world, so that whosoever will may be saved.
- We believe that repentance towards God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
- We believe that we are justified by grace, through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; and that he that believes has the witness in himself.
- We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
- We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be 'wholly sanctified', and that their 'whole spirit and soul and body' may 'be preserved blame less unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Thessalonians5: 23).
- We believe in the immortality of the soul; in the resurrection of the body; in the general judgement at the end of the world; in the eternal happiness of the righteous; and in the endless punishment of the wicked.
The Salvation Army is, and has always been, first and foremost, a Christian Church but this has been lost over the years where it is now only seen to be a thrift shop or a social services charity. This has caused a major rethink within the Salvation Army who are once again placing the Salvation Army on the map of the Christian Church.
Please note that information on this entry was taken from various Salvation Army publications and press releases.