William Booth was a maverick itinerant Methodist preacher who, together with his wife Catherine, had a passion for taking the message of Jesus Christ to the most disenfranchised in society. His preaching in the slums and gin parlours of Victorian London, however, led to conflict with the traditional church, who were not welcoming to the many converts he was making.
In 1865 William was invited to lead an envangelistic mission in the East End of London. This was a huge success, making many converts, and became an established envangelistic movement, becoming known as the The Christian Mission. Booth encouraged his converts to become envangelists and share their faith.
By 1878, this had grown to a movement with over a 1000 volunteer workers, and became known as The Salvation Army,
The Salvation Army developed a quasi-military structure, with William Booth being called The General, and converts being called Soldiers. Soldiers wore uniforms and flags and military style bands were adopted.
The Salvation Army was an extremely radical movement in its formative years. Firstly, it sought to make converts among the poorest in society, with a belief in social action. William Booth stated that the Army's approach could be called three S's - soup, soap and the salvation. There was an emphasis on social justice, with campaigns to raise the age of consent, and improve the conditions many were forced to work in. This took the Army into conflict with some parts of the establishment, and there were many examples of attacks and persecution. This was also the case with the Army's stance on alcohol abstinence. Finally the Army allowed women to be ordained ministers (Officers) and to have equal ranks with men.
William Booth, first General of the Salvation Army
General Andre Cox is the world leader of the Salvation Army.
Commissioner Silvia Cox is World President of Women's Ministries
Today the Salvation Army is a world-wide movement, with a presence in 124 countries. The Army remains, first and foremost, an evangelistic church, however has continued to embrace William Booth's mission to feed the body as well as the soul, and is one of the world's main providers of social aid.
Click on the Salvation Army shield above, to open a link to the UK Salvation Army's website where you can explore the Army's beliefs and mission.
Click on the Salvation Army shield above, to open a link to an extensive BBC page with a very full description of Salvation Army history, beliefs, mission and symbolism.
Link for Family Tracing Service