History of the Salvation Army

Volunteer Administration Changes the World

Knowing the history of the Salvation Army is to know the background on one of America's most active and influential charities. There is a lot to learn about the Salvation Army and its beginnings.

The Early History of the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army actually isn't an American charity at all, as it was founded in 1865 by William Booth, who was an English minister. He left the pulpit in London to become a minister to those he felt needed to hear words of love and salvation most - the homeless and hungry. Booth originally wanted to seek out street people to bring into the local churches in England, but it became clear to him that poor people did not feel at ease with the church congregations, often being harshly judged and excluded. So instead Booth's mission transformed into building a church designed for the homeless, which he named the East London Christian Mission. Although the church grew slowly, Booth's passion for the church mission continued over the years.

The Salvation Army got its official name from an annual report from the East London Christian Mission. It stated that the Christian Mission was a volunteer army, and Booth's son did not like the way this was phrased. He did not feel like a volunteer, but rather a soldier of God's army, doing His will. So Booth changed the word "volunteer" into "salvation," and the new title stuck. By the turn of the century, the Salvation Army had spread all across England, and even more importantly, had carried over internationally. It had posts in 36 different nations, including the U.S., where it remains one of the largest and most active charities in the country.

Making History

The history of the Salvation Army does not stop with these early accomplishments. Many services and sub-ministries have come out of this Christian non-profit group, including but not limited to the first food bank, first nursery for disadvantaged families, and the first missionary hospital. Their military services also led to the start of the USO. Today, you can find the Salvation Army in over 106 countries the world over, and new programs are continually forming with prayer and compassion.

All the World

To keep supporters and workers up to date in all the organization accomplishes, the Salvation Army International Headquarters in London publish a quarterly magazine called All the World. This reports on the main points of international work and missions being executed by the Salvation Army, keeping all the world in the loop. The same publishing house also releases Words of Life, which is a daily devotional for those who would like to grow in their faith while supporting a charitable cause.

Future History

What is being accomplished today will go down as great in the future history books of the Salvation Army. Below are the current projects of the Salvation Army, which are continually growing and expanding, welcoming all soldiers of God who want to make a difference in the world around them.

Health Ministry

International health services have existed almost since the inception of the Salvation Army. Providing faith-based healthcare to individuals around the world, the poor and disadvantaged have received healthcare and medical treatment they otherwise would not have received.

Community Development

The Salvation Army history includes an extended amount of community development, improving and promoting literacy and education both at home and abroad, as well as providing alternative energy, sanitation and occupational training solutions to those less fortunate.


Since the Salvation Army is a Christian organization, international evangelism remains a focal point both as an independent ministry as well as being infused throughout every program the mission offers.

Emergency Services

From Indonesian tsunamis to the devastating rubble left after September 11, the Salvation Army assists in disaster areas by providing emergency services to victims and their families.

Women's Ministries

Special evangelism projects aimed at women exist with the Salvation Army and encourage women spiritually and emotionally, promoting friendship and camaraderie.

Sexual Trafficking

Global sexual trafficking is being reduced through the efforts of the Salvation Army. This organization will go down in history as one who spared the lives and wellbeing of countless young women who otherwise would have been doomed to a life of sexual enslavement.

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History of the Salvation Army