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Christmas 2009
Christmas 2009

125 Years in Australia

Photo of Edward Saunders

The first Salvation Army meeting in Australia was held in Adelaide on 5 September 1880, by Edward Saunders (above) and John Gore (left).

Read about The Salvation Army's beginnings in Australia and more than 125 years of Salvation Army service to God and the Australian community.

Beginnings in Australia

On 5 September, 1880, Edward Saunders and John Gore led the first Salvation Army meeting in Australia from the back of a greengrocer's cart in Adelaide Botanic Park.

Photo of John GoreWhen Gore said, "If there's a man here who hasn't had a square meal today, let him come home to tea with me," little did he realise that within a century, The Salvation Army would feed hundreds of thousands of Australians each year.Nevertheless, he was expressing the ethos of an organisation which, from its earliest days, was concerned for a person's physical as well as spiritual needs.

In a climate where religion had failed to really gain acceptance, Saunders and Gore presented themselves as ordinary men.Without theological training or the status of ordination, the railway worker and the builder invited their small audience to attend a meeting of The Salvation Army that evening.A number agreed to attend, and Saunders and Gore formed themselves into a Corps (church) under the temporary leadership of Gore.After an appeal to London for officers to be sent, Captain and Mrs Thomas Sutherland arrived in 1881.

From this humble beginning, The Salvation Army grew rapidly in Australia.Pioneer Salvationists faced rowdy and sometimes violent opposition, with at least two members being fatally injured.However, by 1890, mob attacks had virtually ceased, and by the early 1900s Salvationists were accepted in the community.Research reveals The Salvation Army is now one of Australia's most well-loved charities.

Highlights of 125 years

In 2005, The Salvation Army celebrated 125 years in Australia. Read and view highlights of our work since 1880, from the development of an extensive social service network to "just being there" through some of the nation's most tragic.