Salvation Army History

HistoryWhen a radical Methodist minister in Victorian England took to London's slums to champion the poor and neglected, he began a movement that outlasted his lifetime and changed the face of philanthropy. The man was William Booth, and the organization he founded in 1865 came to be known as The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army has been known by three names since its inception. William Booth's original name was The East London Christian Mission, which was later shortened to The Christian Mission. In 1878 it was renamed The Salvation Army-a tribute to Booth's "army of volunteers" who waged war against poverty and human suffering. The military metaphor stuck: Even today, members of the corps (or church) are called soldiers and ministers are called officers.

Initially, The Army was intended as a vehicle for evangelism, not social change. But Booth quickly realized that a poor man cares more about his next meal than the state of his soul. As a result, The Army launched numerous social welfare initiatives such as unemployment assistance, on-the-job training, homeless shelters, improvements in slums, safe working conditions in factories, and a bank that extended loans to the poor. In fact, Booth was such a visionary advocate for social reform that his ideas became a blueprint for modern social welfare practices.

Today, The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that continues to confront poverty in all its forms, empowering the vulnerable to find dignity and hope through changed lives. In addition, The Salvation Army plays a major role in providing disaster relief. Salvation Army staff and volunteers are often the first on the scene and the last to depart, honoring a century-old commitment to serve those in need. The red shield continues to be a beacon of compassion, immediate aid, psychological support, and spiritual counsel to individuals and families whose lives have been disrupted or shattered by forces beyond their control.

Salvation Army facilities are located throughout the United States and in 124 countries worldwide. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and traumatized people in your community and throughout the world.