Today we kick off the 2016 National Salvation Army Week and look back to just how The Salvation Army was formed.  In 1852, William Booth, an ordained Methodist minister, embarked upon his ministerial career, walking through the streets of London to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute, forgoing the traditional concept of a church.

William and Catherine Booth

William and Catherine Booth

In 1855, when Booth was invited to hold a series of meetings in a tent in the East End of London aided by his wife Catherine, he formed an evangelical group dedicated to preaching among the “unchurched” people living in the midst of appalling poverty, recognizing the interdependence of material, emotional and spiritual needs.  In addition, he became involved in the feeding and sheltering of the hungry and homeless and in the rehabilitation of alcoholics.

Originally known as “The Christian Mission”, The Salvation Army found footing in the United States when Lieutenant Eliza Shirley left England to move to Philadelphia and held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in the United States in 1879.  Today, The Salvation Army is now active in every zip code in the United States and in 125 countries, along with the Gospel being preached by its Officers in more than 160 languages.  In 1954, the first National Salvation Army Week was declared by the United States Congress and proclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a reminder to Americans to give freely of themselves.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Salvation Army came to Austin in 1889 conducting the first meeting in a building downtown on the corner of 11th and Congress.  From this small beginning in our community, The Salvation Army has grown to include two emergency shelters and service centers, an Adult Rehabilitation Center, a Corps community center, four Family Stores, along with emergency disaster services and Christmas assistance.

We will be celebrating all this week with inspirational stories about our volunteers, programs and services.  Please follow and share our #NationalSalvationArmyWeek posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.