The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 in London, England by William Booth and Catherine Booth. In response to a strong calling from God, the Booths reached out to the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute, and proclaimed the gospel of the Christ.
William Booth’s original aim was to send the new converts to established churches, but he soon realised that the regular churchgoers did not feel comfortable to worship with the new converts. He thus founded East London Christian Mission for these people in the slums of East London. The converts spread out of the East End of London into neighbouring areas and then to other cities.
Booth was reading the 1878 Christian Mission Magazine when he noticed the statement ‘The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.’ Crossing out the words ‘volunteer army’, he penned in ‘Salvation Army’. The name ‘The Salvation Army’ was then adopted. From that point, William Booth was known as ‘General’ by his followers, converts became soldiers of Christ and were also known then as Salvationists. The ‘Army’ was furnished with uniforms, a flag, a brass band and martial music.
The Booths and other officers of the Army endeavoured to expand the kingdom of God through the two-pillar directions of evangelical ministry and social service ministry. Today, the work of The Salvation Army has expanded to 132 countries and areas, meeting human needs in the name of God without discrimination.