The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 by William Booth, a preacher who wanted ordinary people from all sections of society to hear the gospel – the good news that they were loved by God.
A Registered Social Charity
From the early days of the movement, William Booth and his co-workers realised that it was no good talking to people about their spiritual needs without addressing their physical needs. Many of the people they worked among lived in great poverty, were unemployed, had problems with drink and were struggling in many other ways.
The Salvation Army began providing affordable food, shelter, employment and other kinds of help as its social programme began to develop.
Today, it has become one of the largest providers of social welfare in the UK. Specialist centres still provide accommodation for homeless people and rehabilitation programmes for those with drink and drug problems.
The Salvation Army shares the same beliefs as other mainstream churches, based on the Bible. It believes in God, who reveals himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Salvationists believe that God created the world and has always wanted the best for humans – though people have often ignored him and made a mess of their own and others’ lives.
But God has never stopped loving humankind and revealed this in a unique way in the life, death and resurrection of his Son, Jesus.
He continues to touch people’s lives today through his Holy Spirit.
Believing in God’s love for all people, The Salvation Army tries to show the same kind of love by meeting people’s physical as well as spiritual needs.
As well as being places of worship, Salvation Army churches (or ‘corps’) often run projects for the community, such as nurseries and playgroups, drop-in centres and luncheon clubs in addition to its national programmes.
Sunday Meetings (Services)
Like other Christian churches, Salvation Army corps hold worship meetings every week.
Everyone is welcome to attend Salvation Army meetings. In a congregation there will often be soldiers (some of whom wear Salvation Army uniforms), adherents (people who have made a commitment to make The Salvation Army their place of worship) as well as friends and visitors.
Meetings are led by the officers (ministers) and usually include congregational songs, prayers, a children’s slot, a talk based on a passage or some passages from the Bible and music from the brass band and the singing group (known as the songsters).
Salvation Army congregations meet together to express their love for God, to share friendship and encourage each other as they search to find what the gospel means in their lives.
An International Movement
By the time William Booth died in 1912 the movement he began was working in 58 countries. Today it is carrying out its evangelistic and social work in 115 countries.