History of the Salvation Army
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 over 100 countries, offering the message of God’s healing and hope to all those in need.
William Booth began The Salvation Army in 1865 as a means to help the suffering souls throughout London who were not willing to attend – or even welcomed into – a traditional church.
Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among his first converts to Christianity, and as his ministry grew, the gospel of Jesus Christ was spread far and wide to the poor, the vulnerable, and the destitute.
Though General Booth died in 1912, he laid a firm foundation for the lifesaving work that The Salvation Army continues to perform today in over 100 countries.
Catherine Booth was known as the “Army Mother.” In her world, women had few rights,no place in the professional sphere, and a minimal presence in church leadership.
Yet in her marriage to William Booth, she became an evangelist, preacher, theologian, and co-founder of The Salvation Army.
A truly passionate Christian, Catherine believed that loving God meant loving people through action. Her legacy of love, sacrifice, and service continues to shape The Salvation Army today.
The seventh child of William and Catherine Booth, Eva Cory Booth was a gifted speaker, musician, and leader sent by her father to spread The Army’s mission in North America.
During her 30 years as national commander in the United States, Evangeline was responsible for the volunteers who served as chaplains and “Doughnut Girls” during World War I, and also for the division of the country into four territories.
In 1934, Evangeline became The Army’s fourth general. She left America on the highest crest of love and popularity she had ever known, and retained her American citizenship until her death in 1950.
The Greater Birmingham Area Command
In 1899, The Salvation Army was established in Birmingham, Alabama, one year after the first steel mill opened. Spearheading the first efforts in the city were two female officers, Captain Houchin and Lt. Phillips. They were initially met with indifference, but that didn’t stop them. They set up a central location at 510 North 15th Street. In less than four years, the women opened two additional Corps in Ensley and Bessemer.
In 1967, a new facility was built at 2130 11th Avenue North which served the community well for over 50 years. But, due to the growing needs of the community, The Salvation Army built the beautiful Center of Hope on 2015 26th Avenue North in 2017. The Center of Hope is a 4.1-acre campus consisting of four interconnected buildings totaling 110,000 square-feet. The program and services housed at the New Center of Hope offer solutions to the some of the biggest societal issues and challenges faced today by families, youth, our neighborhoods and our city – problems such as poverty, homelessness, and education.
The new Center of Hope campus was designed around the complete restoration of Lewis Elementary School, which was originally built in 1928. The complex includes three new additional buildings that house a 200-seat capacity dining hall, a two-story men’s residential building and a three-story residential building for women and children. The campus was designed by the architectural firm, LIVE Design Group, and the construction was managed by Brasfield & Gorrie.