Soon after beginning his ministerial career in England in 1852, William Booth abandoned the concept of the traditional church pulpit in favor of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ directly to the people. Walking the streets of London, he preached to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.
When fellow clergymen disagreed with Booth’s unconventional approach, he and his wife Catherine withdrew from the church to train evangelists throughout England. The couple returned to the East End of London in 1865, where many followers joined their fight for the souls of lost men and women. Within 10 years, their organization, operating under the name The Christian Mission, had over 1,000 volunteers and evangelists.
Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among their first converts to Christianity. And soon, those converts were also preaching and singing in the streets as living testimonies to the power of God.
When Booth read a printer's proof of the 1878 Christian Mission annual report, he noticed the statement, "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." Crossing out the words "volunteer army," he penned in "Salvation Army." From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.
From that point onward, converts became soldiers of Christ and were known then, as now, as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles that, in spite of violence and persecution, converted 250,000 Christians between 1881 and 1885. Their message spread rapidly, gaining a foothold in America and soon after Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, and Germany.
Today, The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world and serves in 131 countries, offering the message of God’s healing and hope to all those in need.
Sharing is Caring is a long-standing motto that succinctly describes the partnership between The Salvation Army and the community.
The iconic Salvation Army red kettle campaign began in 1891 by Captain Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army officer who was looking for a way to cover the cost of the community Christmas meal. Recalling his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, he recreated the “Simpson’s Pot”, an iron pot where charitable donations were placed by passersby. Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing, at the foot of Market Street where it could be seen by all those going to and from the ferry boats. By 1895 the ‘kettle’ was used by 30 locations along the west coast and by 1897 the campaign was making its mark in east. That year, the kettle effort in Boston and other locations nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. The tradition continues still today. Sharing your donation at Christmastime helps The Salvation Army care for homeless and needy families, but also helps serve 30 million people through a myriad of other services all year long. These include: