In 1865, a Methodist minister named William Booth took to the slums of London's east end and began his battle against hunger and homelessness. In these streets, he saw that sin and suffering did not discriminate.
Suffering plagued people from all walks of life-old men, young women, children, the rich who lost it all and the poor who never had it. Booth, recognizing the physical and spiritual needs of these people, established a ministry based on the philosophy of "soup, soap and salvation." Along with his wife Catherine and an evangelical crusade of soldiers, Booth hit the streets of London with the fervor of a military crusader.
By 1865, the Christian Mission was formed with William Booth as General Superintendent. There were ten fulltime workers. Seven years later the mission had 42 evangelists and more than 1,000 volunteers. Concurrent with his preaching, Booth established social services (shelters, feeding programs, homes for unwed mothers, etc.), which eventually resulted in a world-wide network of institutions and programs to meet the needs of the disenfranchised.
In 1878, while reading a printer's proof of the annual report, Booth found this sentence: "The Christian Mission, under the superintendence of the Rev. William Booth, is a volunteer army." At that time the British government had "volunteer forces," who served on a part-time, as-needed basis, not unlike the present-day National Guard in the USA. Muttering "We're regulars or nothing," Booth drew a line through the word "volunteer" and substituted "salvation." The Christian Mission...is a salvation army.
The name stuck!
Booth became a General, rather than the General Superintendent. Converts became soldiers. Clergy became officers. To this day The Salvation Army maintains a quasi-military form of government, and military ranks and titles are still in vogue.
The Army grew dramatically. In 1880, just two years after The Salvation Army name was adopted, Commissioner George Scott Railton, assisted by seven "hallelujah lassies," invaded the United States. In a few short years, The Salvation Army began to spread its work across the United States and established roots in the midwest by the late 1880's and was established in Kankakee County in 1916!
Within five years The Salvation Army was operating in Canada, India, Switzerland, Sweden, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan.
Today The Salvation Army serves in 126 countries and territories, preaches the gospel in 160 languages, operates hundreds of rehabilitation centers for the physically and socially handicapped, and provides education at every level in more than 1,700 schools-and much more.
Feeding the poor, loving the unloved and meeting human needs in the name of Jesus became the mission of this group, and remains the focus of the Army’s work around the world, and here in Kankakee!