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History

Serving since 1865

The Salvation Army’s services of evangelism and social action began in East London, England in 1865 by itinerate Methodist minister William Booth and his wife Catherine (learn about the founders). The Booths’ desire to share the gospel took shape amidst a city groaning with poverty and despair. (What is the gospel?) They quickly set aside their conventional church methods to meet the people where they lived and toiled – on the streets. Their socially-conscience work was aggressive and innovative, going where few churches were willing or able to venture. (Hear an original speech recording of William Booth about his vision for our organization and how it was to serve others.)

In the 1880s, the movement spread across the ocean to America, Canada, Australia, Asia, Africa and India – including the start of The Salvation Army Northern Division in 1886 (view location opening dates). Today, The Salvation Army serves in more than 120 countries and territories and preaches the gospel in 160 languages.

Video: A 3-Minute History

Read more about some of our unique services steeped in history, such as our National Donut Day.