William Booth

A Brief History of The Salvation Army

In 1865, William Booth, an ordained Methodist minister, aided by his wife Catherine, formed an evangelical group dedicated to preaching among the “unchurched” people living in the midst of appalling poverty in London’s East End. Booth’s ministry recognized the interdependence of material, emotional and spiritual needs. In addition to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, Booth became involved in the feeding and shelter of the hungry and homeless and in rehabilitation of alcoholics.

As of 2013 The Salvation Army’s outreach has been expanded to include 126 countries , and the Gospel is preached by its Officers in more than 160 languages.

History of The Salvation Army in Texas

The Salvation Army in Texas was started by an Italian Naval Captain named Adam Janelli. Janelli met The Salvation Army while on a trip to Calcutta, India. There he attended one of the meetings and was so touched by the message that he became one of the most unassuming Salvation Army personalities Texas and the United States have ever known.

In 1888, Janelli came to America and settled in Dallas, Texas. One day, the rough citizens of the then frontier town, were startled out of their composure when Janelli, wearing his Salvation Army uniform, took up a position on a downtown street corner and began preaching. Every time he preached was a great success. People were finding Christ. Eager to get The Salvation Army established in Texas, Janelli would write letters to General William Booth in London asking that Officers be sent to Texas. His letter barrage got so thick that the official word was given, and The Salvation Army of Texas opened in 1889.

Janelli gave both material and spiritual help to the poor and homeless, and to the people of Dallas, he became known as “Mr. Salvation Army.” The people of Dallas could not recall a time that they did not see Janelli in his uniform. Many people doubted that he had any other clothes in his possession.

Today, The Salvation Army in Texas is thriving through the support of people like you. Currently, in Texas, we have more than 155 Officers; all of whom are ordained ministers; more than 1,600 employees and thousands of volunteers, all committed to furthering the mission of The Salvation Army and helping those in need in Jesus’ name.

The Salvation Army - More Historical Information

William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.

Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people. His fervor led to disagreement with church leaders in London, who preferred traditional methods. As a result, he withdrew from the church and traveled throughout England, conducting evangelistic meetings. His wife, Catherine, could accurately be called a cofounder of The Salvation Army.

In 1865, William Booth was invited to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in the East End of London. He set up a tent in a Quaker graveyard, and his services became an instant success. This proved to be the end of his wanderings as an independent traveling evangelist. His renown as a religious leader spread throughout London, and he attracted followers who were dedicated to fight for the souls of men and women.

Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth’s first converts to Christianity. To congregations who were desperately poor, he preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead people to Christ and link them to a church for further spiritual guidance.

Early Salvationists were subjected to violence and ridicule. Publications of the day, such as this 1885 issue of Puck, poked fun at their uniforms and methods.

Many churches, however, did not accept Booth’s followers because of their past. So Booth continued giving his new converts spiritual direction, challenging them to save others like themselves. Soon, they too were preaching and singing in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God.

In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers, but by 1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all serving under the name “The Christian Mission.” Booth assumed the title of general superintendent, with his followers calling him “General.” Known as the “Hallelujah Army,” the converts spread out of the East End of London into neighboring areas and then to other cities.

Booth was reading a printer’s proof of the 1878 annual report when he noticed the statement “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.” Crossing out the words “volunteer army,” he penned in “Salvation Army.” From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.

From that point, converts became soldiers of Christ and were known then, as now, as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles, in some cases facing real battles as organized gangs mocked and attacked them. In spite of violence and persecution, some 250,000 people were converted under the ministry of The Salvation Army between 1881 and 1885.

Meanwhile, the Army was gaining a foothold in the United States. Lieutenant Eliza Shirley had left England to join her parents, who had migrated to America earlier in search for work. In 1879, she held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in America, in Philadelphia. The Salvationists were received enthusiastically. Shirley wrote to General Booth, begging for reinforcements. None were available at first. Glowing reports of the work in Philadelphia, however, eventually convinced Booth, in 1880, to send an official group to pioneer the work in America.

On March 10, 1880, Commissioner George Scott Raiton and seven women officers knelt on the dockside at Battery Park in New York City to give thanks for their safe arrival. At their first official street meeting, these pioneers were met with unfriendly actions, as had happened in Great Britain. They were ridiculed, arrested, and attacked. Several officers and soldiers even gave their lives.Three years later, Railton and other Salvationists had expanded their operation into California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. President Grover Cleveland received a delegation of Salvation Army officers in 1886 and gave the organization a warm personal endorsement. This was the first recognition from the White House and would be followed by similar receptions from succeeding presidents.

The Salvation Army movement expanded rapidly to Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, and local neighborhood units. The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world.

General Booth’s death in 1912 was a great loss to The Salvation Army. However, he had laid a firm foundation’ even his death could not deter the ministry’s onward march. His eldest son, Bramwell Booth, succeeded him.

Edward J. Higgins served as the first elected general, beginning in 1929. The first female general was Booth’s daughter, the dynamic Evangeline Booth, serving from 1934 to 1939. The Army’s fifth general was George Carpenter, succeeded in 1946 by Albert Orsborn. General Wilfred Kitching was elected in 1954, succeeded by Frederick Coutts in 1963. Erik Wickberg followed in 1969; Clarence Wiseman in 1974; Arnold Brown in 1977; Jarl Wahlstrom in 1981; and Eva Burrows, the second female general, in 1986. General Bramwell Tillsley was elected in 1993 and was succeeded by General Paul Rader in 1994, followed by General John Gowans in 1999, General John Larsson in 2002, General Shaw Clifton in 2006, and General Linda Bond in 2011. General André Cox was elected the 20th General of The Salvation Army in August 2013. He currently commands the Army from International Headquarters in London, England.

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