On 2 July 1865, William Booth commenced his first open air Evangelistic campaign at the old Quaker burial ground on Mile End waste in Whitechapel, preaching in a tent. It was noted that “the breath of any reeked with the fumes of gin or beer which drove from the already heavy air within those canvas walls the last vestige of wholesomeness.”
In 1869 The Christian Mission received its name with Booth as its leader and in November 1870 the First Annual Conference was held. The Mission by now comprised 18 stations. An early indicator of William’s social concern was his establishment that year of a ‘Food–for–the–Millions’ program which provided cheap meals for the poor. It ran until 1874 and was administered by his young son, Bramwell.
In 1878 The Christian Mission was renamed The Salvation Army. As military terminology became more commonplace, Booth became known as the ‘General’, a suitable shortening of the title of ‘General Superintendent’ that he held as the head of The Christian Mission.
A ‘Deed of Constitution’ outlining his duties and responsibilities, which included the power to appoint a successor, was drawn up. Mission station preachers were given the rank of Captain and uniforms suitable to the ranks followed. A military discipline governed the lives of the officers.
In October 1890, Booth published his social manifesto, ‘In Darkest England and the Way Out’. He explored various ideas such as providing food and shelter for the poor, helping the disadvantaged learn agricultural trades, and assisting people in search of a better life to emigrate. From this point on, the Army’s mission became two–pronged: to provide social salvation, as well as proclaiming personal salvation.
In the 1890s Booth immersed himself again in his first love: preaching and evangelism. Day–to–day control of the Army was therefore passed to his oldest son, Bramwell.
Basis of belief
The Salvation Army beliefs are based on the Bible. As members of The Salvation Army we follow doctrines. These are as stated below:
- The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
- There is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
- There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and co–equal in power and glory.
- In the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
- Our first parents were created in a state of innocency, but by their disobedience, they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall, all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
- The Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
- Repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
- We are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
- Continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
- It is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- The immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, in the general judgement at the end of the world, in the eternal happiness of the righteous, and in the endless punishment of the wicked.
Presence in Ireland
We have around 1,500 members in 20 Corps (places of worship), mainly in and around Belfast, Londonderry, Coleraine and Dublin.
Our unique identifying qualities
The Salvation Army exists to Save souls, Grow saints and Serve suffering humanity. We are unique in the fact that some of our members wear a uniform to Church. We are proud of this uniform as it shows who we are and what we believe. It is also important to remember that you do not have to wear a uniform to be a member of our Church, anyone is welcome.
One feature that is unique is the idea of witnessing through marching and open airs. This was an idea that started many years ago and still continues today.
At the time The Salvation Army was set up military terminology became more commonplace, hence the military names, for example; General, Officer, Soldier.
The Salvation Army was set up as a movement, as well as being a Church we see ourselves as a movement for God.
When we become Soldiers of The Salvation Army we make many promises, which include; we refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking and taking illegal drugs.
How we are governed
The International SA is overseen by the General. Across the world The Salvation Army is separated in countries/groups known as a Territory, Command or Region – an appointed leader oversees the country(countries) in this area – headed up by a Territorial Commander, Officer Commanding or Regional Commander.
Each Territory, Command or Region is usually divided up into administrative areas known as Divisions – headed up by a Divisional Commander.
On a grassroots level are corps officers who run the Salvation Army churches locally and answer to their Divisional Commander.
Within the organisation are the many and various roles administrative and practical roles are carried out by officers.
What to expect on a Sunday morning
The style of worship and what happens on a Sunday morning varies from corps to corps. Meetings have different styles relevant to the congregation and the community it serves. In some areas, The Salvation Army holds outdoor services in public places. In other areas, The Salvation Army will hold less formal café–style meetings where members often sit in small groups and enjoy fellowship and praise with refreshments. The Salvation Army is keen to make church accessible and relevant to everyone. Though worship mainly takes place on a Sunday, some may also hold mid–week worship.
What our church does Monday–Saturday
Again, this varies from corps to corps. The main purpose is to serve the community throughout the week. Different programmes and services usually occur throughout the week depending on the needs of the community.
How to find out more
For more information please visit our main website This will have information about The Salvation Army as well as information on our Churches. Specific Information about the Ireland Division is detailed here