London, England (JFK+50) Today we know it as the Salvation Army, but the organization can trace its roots back to the founding of the Christian Mission here in London a century and a half ago today, July 5, 1865.
Revivalist minister William Booth* and his wife Catherine established the Methodist organization which was modeled after the British army. Among the projects sponsored by the group were soup kitchens to provide food for the poor.
Unlike the traditional churches, the Christian Mission accepted thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunkards.
By 1874, the CM had a hundred volunteers and 42 evangelists. Its founder began to be known as the "General," and his followers as the "Hallelujah Army."
In 1878, General Booth saw his organization described as a "Volunteer Army," which he apparently didn't like, because he crossed out the Volunteer and replaced it with Salvation.
Lt. Eliza Shirley held the first meeting of the Salvation Army in the United States in Philadelphia in 1879. The Salvation Army is still based in London today and has branches in 75 countries around the world.
Manifesto of the Christian Mission (1878)
*William Booth (1829-1912) was born in Sneinton, Nottingham, England. He converted to Methodism in 1844 and joined the Methodist Reform Church in 1852. After founding the Christian Mission, WB published a magazine and wrote books. In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890) became a best seller.
The General's Salvation Army was at one time treated with hostility by the Church of England. One of the criticisms of the organization was that it elevated women to the same status as men.