History of The Salvation Army

In 1865, William Booth, an ordained Methodist minister, aided by his wife Catherine, formed an evangelical group dedicated to preaching among the unchurched people living in the midst of appalling poverty in London's East End.

Booth's ministry recognized the interdependence of material, emotional and spiritual needs. In addition to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, Booth became involved in the feeding and shelter of the hungry and homeless and in rehabilitation of alcoholics.

William Booth's congregations were desperately poor. He preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead them to Christ and to link them to a church for further spiritual guidance. Even though they were converted, churches did not accept Booth’s followers because of what they had been. Booth gave their lives direction in a spiritual manner and put them to work to save others who were like themselves. They too preached and sang in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God.

In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers. By 1874, the numbers had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists. They served under the name "The Christian Mission." Booth assumed the title of a General Superintendent. His followers called him "General." Known as the "Hallelujah Army,'" the converts spread out of the east end of London into neighboring areas and then to other cities.

Booth was reading a printer's proof of the 1878 Annual Report of the Christian Mission when he noticed the statement "The Christian Mission, under the superintendence of Rev. William Booth, is a volunteer army." He crossed out the words "Volunteer Army" and penned in "Salvation Army." From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army, which was adopted in August of the same year.

The Salvation Army has functioned successfully within that unusual structure for more than a century. Its outreach has been expanded to include over 100 countries and the Gospel is preached by its officers in more than 160 languages.

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