Salvation Army Day is observed on March 10 each year as a way to commemorate the founding of the Salvation Army by Methodist preacher William Booth and his wife, Catherine. It is one of several days that celebrate the Salvation Army. One common misconception is that the Salvation Army is a militant organization of some sort. The name represents the Christian ‘battle’ against social injustices, and because the members see themselves ultimately as God’s soldiers, the army is out to do good for those in need. They do, however, have a ranking system with military titles, a uniform, and even their own flag or banner.
History of Salvation Army Day
The exact reason for instituting such a day as Salvation Army Day on March 10 is unknown, but we do know that this is a day well worth observing simply because of the phenomenal organization that it acknowledges. For many people, all they may ever know about the Salvation Army is that they have volunteers who stand outside the stores and malls, ringing bells, and holding out red kettles for charitable donations around the holiday season. This does not even begin to scratch the surface of what The Salvation Army is, does, and stands for — let alone its rich history.
Born in Nottingham, England, in 1829, William Booth found his true faith at the age of 15. At the beginning of his career, he was a Methodist preacher, and then he broke away to preach independently, eventually being invited to preach in one of the poorest areas of London — Whitechapel. Having always had a heart for the poor and those suffering injustice and societal rejection, Booth and his wife Catherine started the Christian Mission in 1865 to feed the hungry and provide shelter for those in need. By 1878 the name was changed to the Salvation Army, and it was organized and run along military lines, with Booth heading it as its first General. In 1890, General Booth published his ideas on how to alleviate poverty in his written work called “In Darkest England, and the Way Out” with the help of William Thomas Stead. Initially, these ideas were criticized, however, once the results could be seen, public sympathy was aroused. From humble beginnings, the organization grew exponentially, mustering widespread public support in England, including that of the crown — King Edward VII in 1904.
Booth’s own three children were involved in the work of the Salvation Army together with his daughter Evangeline Cory Booth. She became commander of the U.S. branch of the Salvation Army in 1904. She introduced a lot of reforms and was a strong administrator in the North American branch, headquartered in New York. While The Salvation Army did find its roots in England, the quintessential ‘red kettle’ originated in San Francisco in 1981, where The Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee made a vow to feed 1,000 poor people on Christmas Day but struggled with ideas on fundraising for it. Inspiration hit, and he placed a large red spot on the street, with a sign reading, “Keep the Pot Boiling.” He soon had enough money to fulfill his promise, and with it, the red kettle donation culture was born. A 1994 publication, “Chronicle of Philanthropy,” showed that in a study, The Salvation Army was ranked four out of 100 most popular non-profit charities, so we encourage you to learn more about all that it does.
Salvation Army Day timeline
William Booth and his wife Catherine start the Christian Mission.
Erroneously described in a report as a “volunteer” army, Booth renames it the Salvation Army.
Ballington Booth and his wife leave the Salvation Army to start Volunteers of America.
Evangeline Cory Booth becomes the fourth and last world General of The Salvation Army.
Salvation Army Day FAQs
What is the Salvation Army’s main purpose?
The main purpose of the Salvation Army is to spread the Gospel about salvation and Jesus Christ through the power of action and not mere words. The Salvation Army is all about meeting the needs of those in circumstances that are less fortunate or privileged than the average person and showing them the love of God in this way. It stands for equality, social justice, and service to others.
Is the Salvation Army a religion?
No, the Salvation Army is not a separate religion in itself, though it is a religious charity that organizes itself on the core principles of Protestant Christianity.
What happens to donations to the Salvation Army?
All useful items which are given as donations to The Salvation Army are sold at their thrift stores. The proceeds are then utilized to fund other charitable projects that the foundation is involved in, be it local or international.
How to Observe Salvation Army Day
Enlist in the Army
Of course, we do not mean this literally. This could still be a great opportunity to get involved in some of the work the Salvation Army is a part of though; as they are always on the lookout for volunteers. And no, one does not have to be religious, or adhere to the same religious affiliations, in order to serve/volunteer with them — all it takes is the willingness to do others some good. And we guarantee it will do your own heart some good in the process!
Donate to the effort
If volunteering is not a possibility at this stage, one can always support the Salvation Army by making a donation to them. The Salvation Army primarily gets its funding through charitable donations made, and fundraising drives. With the Salvation Army having its fingers in so many jars, there is bound to be a cause you can find to support which is also meaningful to you personally.
Mobilize your troops
By troops here, we mean resources, time, and effort. Take the time and effort to read up on the Salvation Army, in order to gauge for yourself how widespread and far-reaching its impact is. Don’t just take our word for it — we’re here to get you started on your own exploration. If you find it convincing and worth your while, you will be likely to spread the word on your own as well; which is how we like awareness and movements to spread.
5 Things You May Not Know About The Salvation Army
Its membership is massive
With over 1.5 million members spread out across the globe, it’s a huge organization.
It grew from the grave
Spooky, but not quite — the first meeting of the organization took place in a graveyard.
General is the highest rank
The churches are corps, and pastors are officers with General ranking the highest.
Music is as important as ministry
Music is a big part of the Salvation Army and is integral to all aspects of it.
Thrifting funds rehabs
Shopping at a Salvation Army thrift store means the proceeds help a rehabilitation center.
Why Salvation Army Day is Important
Actions speak louder
One of the very central tenets of the Salvation Army is to show the love of God through deeds, not merely words. William Booth took this command very seriously and literally, which is why to this day the Salvation Army is thriving and expanding to all corners of the globe.
A global network
The Salvation Army is now an international network that is involved in everything from local social justice, to disaster aid and efforts aimed at alleviating poverty on a global scale. With its involvement in over 130 countries, it is an organization that’s for citizens of the world and is on par with powerful change-making organizations such as the United Nations.
Altruism at its best
At its core, the Salvation Army is dedicated to doing good. Since its founding, the aim has been to put the Gospel into action by literally helping those in need (financially, emotionally, spiritually, or in any other way). It does what Jesus Christ himself intended for his followers to do — to serve those in need of aid and justice, turning away no one for any reason. It’s little wonder then that the outreach of the Salvation Army is as impactful and far-reaching as it is.
Salvation Army Day dates