Early Origins – London, England
The following excerpt has been sourced from the website of the Salvation Army’s International Headquarters in London, UK (http://www.salvationarmy.org/).
“The Salvation Army began 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 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 to do God’s work. So, in a flash of inspiration, Booth crossed out ‘Volunteer’ and wrote ‘Salvation’. The Salvation Army was born.”
The Salvation Army comes to Canada
The following excerpts have been sourced from the Salvation Army’s Territorial Headquarters website for Canada and Bermuda (http://www.salvationarmy.ca/).
The Salvation Army began its work in Canada in 1882. From the beginning, the Army in Canada adopted founder William Booth’s philosophy that there is little point preaching ‘salvation’ to hungry people. And so the concept of ‘soup, soap and salvation’ took hold, later to be developed into the comprehensive social service programs the Army operates today.
Despite initial opposition, there was eventual acceptance of the movement as it demonstrated the social benefits that accrued from its activities. The men’s social work began in 1890 with a Prison Gate Home in Toronto. The same year a Children’s Shelter was opened. The first Maternity home was opened in Saint John, N.B. in 1898, precursor to the Salvation Army Grace Hospitals. In 1901 The Salvation Army recommended to the federal government that a prisoner probation system be adopted, leading to Canada’s first parole program. In 1908 salvage work (now called recycling) began in Toronto, leading to the well-known Thrift Stores. In 1911 the first Juvenile Detention Centre was established in Manitoba and turned over to the Army to operate.
The Army’s status in Canada was entrenched in law in 1909 when parliament passed an Act giving the organization legal standing, its governance to be conducted by The Governing Council of The Salvation Army in Canada, a structure that continues to this day.
The first seniors’ residence, or Eventide Home, was opened in Edmonton in 1926, and Grace Hospitals were opened in major cities across the country.
To accommodate the changing times, the Army in Canada continues to evolve. While the same values and goals still exist, new, innovative and effective programs such as community kitchens, skills-training and addictions day-treatment programs are addressing rising community needs.
NOTE: Readers are encouraged to check the Army’s numerous websites for more information on the Army’s rich history.