Effective Activism, Innovative Evangelism
The ministry of The Salvation Army reaches across the United States and into 131 countries worldwide. However, many people are surprised to learn that the Army is an active denomination of the Christian church.
They are also astounded to realize that, for more than a century, The Salvation Army has been on the cutting edge of the most innovative and groundbreaking strategies for evangelism. Perhaps more than any other Christian denomination, the Army has served millions of people in need through its disaster relief, social justice advocacy, audio/visual technology, and practical and spiritual care, typically in the aftermath of natural and man–made disasters.
Imagine: people gathering for open–air meetings in the streets of London in 1865; others worshiping in a small Methodist church in Cleveland, Ohio in 1872; still more attending open–air meetings in New York City and finally in Philadelphia, Pa., where, in 1880, the Army officially established itself.
With sleeves rolled up, they became volunteers in urban, suburban, and rural areas—and many dedicated their lives in service as Salvation Army officers.
Serving in the trenches
Salvationists continue to meet human need wherever it might be. Rather than be on television networks such as “TBN” or “Word” or “Daystar” or “Hillsong” where preaching and singing within the four walls of a megachurch is common, you will instead find them literally in the trenches, hard at work, behind the scenes, helping the homeless in the aftermath of a Superstorm Sandy or a Hurricane Katrina or Maria or earthquakes such as the ones that struck Haiti or Chile. These are the places where they conduct ministry; the places they call “church.”
by Warren L. Maye
Evangelism on display
The next time you visit Territorial Headquarters in West Nyack, N.Y., be sure to climb the red–carpeted staircase to the first floor and take a journey into the Salvation Army’s fascinating world of evangelical history.
You’ll encounter a World War 1 “Donut Girl;” Evangeline Booth as the Army’s U.S. national commander; Thomas Ferguson, the first Salvationist composer and poet of African descent; and Joe “The Turk” Garabedian, an outstanding evangelist of the early 20th century.
Authentic documents, artifacts, innovations, inventions, uniforms, and audio recordings are available in the museum. Also on hand are books, manuscripts, paintings, drawings, letters, notebooks, photographs, microfilm, musical instruments, epaulets, badges, furniture, and ministry tools used by the Army’s evangelical pioneers. Such items appear on the walls and in cabinets, which extend down several corridors.
These memorabilia date back to the beginning of the Salvation Army’s ministry in the United States. Each piece has a revealing story that will take you deep into the psyche of the iconic characters whose courageous ministries launched The Salvation Army and made an effective and deeply spiritual influence on millions of lives.
The Salvation Army USA Eastern Territory
440 West Nyack Road, West Nyack, NY 10994
Created one of the early electric powered, public address systems for use in open–air ministry campaigns in 1929. It was known as the “Rader Box,” after its inventor, Lt. Colonel Lyell Rader Sr., father of Lt. Colonel Lyell Rader, Jr., brother of Paul A. Rader, General of The Salvation Army (1994–99) and the president of Asbury University (2000–2006).
Published The War Cry, one of the first magazines in the United States (1881). It has outlived The Saturday Evening Post, which began in 1821.
Created the first match factory where workers were safe from the deadly effects of yellow phosphorous. In 1891, William Booth purchased a derelict factory and transformed it into a competitor that disrupted the industry in London and changed matchmaking worldwide forever.
The first church to use photo/slide projection (limelight) devices for evangelistic outreach. The Limelight Department was one of the world’s first film studios, beginning in 1898 in Melbourne, Australia. It produced evangelistic materials as well as private and government contracts. In its 19 years of operation, the department produced about 300 films and the world’s first feature–length motion picture. “Soldiers of the Cross,” made in 1899, contained 15, 90–second sections and 200 lantern slides, and ran for nearly 2 ½ hours. Limelight was one of the largest film producers of its time.