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.
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 places like St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey. 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 undaunted.
In May of 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.
By the 1900s, The Salvation Army had spread around the world and soon had officers and soldiers in 36 countries, including the U.S. This well-organized, yet flexible structure inspired many and much-needed services- women’s social work, the first food depot, the first day nursery and the first Army missionary hospital. During World War II, The Salvation Army operated 3,000 service units for the armed forces, which led to the formation of the USO.
The Salvation Army first came to Augusta, Georgia on April 12, 1891- the second official corps opened in Georgia. The first corps established in Georgia was in Atlanta, one year prior to the corps established in Augusta.
Today, The Salvation Army is stronger and more powerful than ever. Now, in more than 126 nations around the world, The Salvation Army continues to work where the need is greatest, guided by faith in God and love for all people.