Salvation Army ministry in the Australia was born in a uniquely Army form: in the open air and, in a typically Aussie style, under a gum tree in a park.
The organisation was originally founded in London, in July 1865, by William and Catherine Booth under the name of The Christian Mission. The name 'The Salvation Army' was adopted in 1878 and formally adopted by deed poll in 1880. That was also the year that The Salvation Army began in Australia, when a tradie and a railway worker began preaching and offering meals on the back of a cart in Adelaide's Botanic Garden.
In a nation born of convicts, the Army’s larrikin nature endeared was a refreshing change to the “starchified” style of existing churches, as Australian founder John Gore described them. Noisy open-air meetings were held in parts of cities where residents were more used to seeing pub-brawls than brass-bands. Opposition from ‘skeleton armies’ who used to throw eggs and shout taunts at Salvationists were seen as a help, rather than a hindrance, as it meant that The Salvation Army’s movements became the ‘talk-of-the-town.
An Australian journalist described the rapid spread of The Salvation Army in its early days as ‘like a bushfire’. What started under a gum tree grew deep roots and now The Salvation Army now has 353 established corps (churches) across Australia that work hand-in-hand with our social services - we are one of the biggest provider of welfare and homelessness services in the country. In the midst of our growth and diversity, The Salvation Army in Australia has always been about people finding Freedom through Jesus.
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