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When you think of Christmastime, perhaps an image of a person wearing red ringing a bell outside of a storefront comes to mind. The Salvation Army is a familiar sight during the Christmas season, but what about the rest of the year? What is The Salvation Army and how did it get its roots?


The Salvation Army began in 1885 by William Booth and his wife Catherine. William was the son of a nail maker in Nottingham England. In his early journals at 15 years of age, he had already committed himself to God.

It was not easy to attend church in those days. You had to pay a tax and be of middle class, at least. William Booth found that although people found the Lord, they were not accepted into churches. He created the Christian Mission, then eventually changed its name to Salvation Army. Booth was committed to waging war against poverty in the form of a military like organization.


William Booth soon found that you can’t speak to someone about the state of their soul if they are hungry, need clothing or need other basics. This is how the Salvation Army began to first help people and then share news of the Gospel. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.


The Salvation Army is organized much like any military organization. The corps are The Salvation Army churches, which, according to their website, embody the mission of joyful worship, fellowship and community service.

In keeping with this military structure, clergy in the Army are known as officers. These officers hold varying ranks. Next in line are the members. These members are referred to as “soldiers.” Above these soldiers in rank are officers. Officers can be anything from an envoy to the General. There is only one General at a time and his or her spouse holds the title of “commissioner.”

The Salvation Army is one of the United States’ longest running Christian organizations and many people call it America’s favorite charity. From the beginning, the members and workers have believed this is not a job but a mission. The Salvation Army seeks to bring salvation to the hungry, the poor and the destitute by serving their physical and spiritual needs.