Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 15, 2007
What does the Salvation Army do?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
"Go for souls and go for the worst."
- Rev. William Booth
While some Christian churches struggled and continue to struggle over women's role, from the beginning in the Salvation Army, both men and women were ordained ministers and held leadership positions. Booth's daughter Evangeline led the U.S. branch for 30 years and directed its worldwide operation for five years.
The Salvation Army quickly spread throughout the British Isles, moved into the United States in 1880 and Canada in 1882. Today, it continues to flourish in many countries.
In Canada alone, there are over 350 churches served by 1,250 ordained officers, 23,000 soldiers and more than 60,000 adherents (churchgoers). They run 150 social service institutions, have 11,000 employees and thousands of volunteers.
Canadian officers and staff serve in 26 other countries. Presently, a Canadian is the Salvation Army delegate to the World Council of Churches and a Canadian is also the leader in the Western United States.
Numbers alone cannot convey the tremendous dedication of the Salvation Army which has developed every imaginable form of helping society's downtrodden. It has thrift stores, summer camps for children, hostels for the homeless, institutes for the blind, hospitals, abuse safe houses, palliative care, work centres. It serves the poorest of the poor, alcoholics, drug addicts, prisoners, the suicidal, the hungry and anyone in need.
Army members help street youth, the mentally and physically challenged. They assist families with food, clothing, accommodation, as well as life skills enhancement, counselling and tracing lost members.
They help in natural disaster relief and child sponsorship in developing countries.
Their kettles in the malls are but one way they have of raising money to fund the numerous good works they do all year. Today, they are also sometimes recipients of larger-scale donations from those who realize and appreciate the work being done for the poor in our society.
Many Christian churches and other groups help those in need. However, it seems that no other single body the size of the Salvation Army could match the scope of its dedication to the needy.
As to all those who follow Jesus' example and his command to reach out to the needy, at the end Christ will surely say to them, "Come, you blessed of God, into the kingdom prepared for you. Whatever you did for the least of these, my brothers and sisters, you did unto me" (Matthew 25:40).
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