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At The Salvation Army, we are dedicated to Doing the Most Good Image At The Salvation Army, we are dedicated to Doing the Most Good Image

At The Salvation Army, we are dedicated to Doing the Most Good

What Do We Do?

We meet human needs without discrimination

   We assist approximately 23 million Americans annually

We serve in 134 countries around the globe

We have over 1.8 million members consisting of officers, soldiers, and adherents

We’ve been pursuing our mission since 1865

Our Mission Statement.

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Woman officer

The History of The Salvation Army

Soon after beginning his ministerial career in England in 1852, William Booth abandoned the concept of the traditional church pulpit in favor of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ directly to the people. Walking the streets of London, he preached to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.

When fellow clergymen disagreed with Booth’s unconventional approach, he and his wife Catherine withdrew from the church to train evangelists throughout England. The couple returned to the East End of London in 1865, where many followers joined their fight for the souls of lost men and women. Within 10 years, their organization, operating under the name The Christian Mission, had over 1,000 volunteers and evangelists.

Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among their first converts to Christianity. And soon, those converts were also preaching and singing in the streets as living testimonies to the power of God.

When Booth read a printer's proof of the 1878 Christian Mission annual report, he noticed the statement, "The Christian Mission is a volunteer army." Crossing out the words "volunteer army," he penned in "Salvation Army." From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.

From that point onward, converts became soldiers of Christ and were known then, as now, as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles that, in spite of violence and persecution, converted 250,000 Christians between 1881 and 1885. Their message spread rapidly, gaining a foothold in America and soon after Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, and Germany.

Today, The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world and serves in 134 countries, offering the message of God’s healing and hope to all those in need.

About the Red kettle

Sharing is Caring is a long-standing motto that succinctly describes the partnership between The Salvation Army and the community.

The iconic Salvation Army red kettle campaign began in 1891 by Captain Joseph McFee, a Salvation Army officer who was looking for a way to cover the cost of the community Christmas meal. Recalling his days as a sailor in Liverpool, England, he recreated the “Simpson’s Pot”, an iron pot where charitable donations were placed by passersby. Captain McFee placed a similar pot at the Oakland Ferry Landing, at the foot of Market Street where it could be seen by all those going to and from the ferry boats. By 1895 the ‘kettle’ was used by 30 locations along the west coast and by 1897 the campaign was making its mark in east. That year, the kettle effort in Boston and other locations nationwide resulted in 150,000 Christmas dinners for the needy. The tradition continues still today. Sharing your donation at Christmastime helps The Salvation Army care for homeless and needy families, but also helps serve 30 million people through a myriad of other services all year long. These include:

  • Religious Services provide a place of worship and community without discrimination in every zip code across the United States
  • Disaster Response Services which include assisting survivors of natural and man-made disasters to recover and rebuild their lives
  • Social Service programs provide food, shelter, clothing, and financial assistance
  • Casework and Counseling with programs for health care and residential assistance and abuse counseling
  • Youth Services with programs for music, athletics, arts, and crafts, camping and family counseling
  • Senior Centers focused on assisting the needs of older adults --including eight Silvercrest centers where seniors’ assistance is partially subsidized by federal government dollars
  • Christmas Programs in which the famous Red Kettles are a centerpiece, to help families and individuals financially at year-end with toys, meals and other assistance
  • Human and Sexual Trafficking Advocacy where Army officers and staff are focused on public policy in Washington, D.C., and providing services and advocacy for victims of this international crime
  • Veterans Services provide a range of support, gifts, counseling, housing assistance, and comfort to those in need
  • Prison Services include Bible correspondence courses, gifts/material aid, prerelease job training programs, employment opportunities in cooperation with parole personnel, and spiritual guidance for both prisoners and their families



Our Founders

William Booth began The Salvation Army in 1865 as a means to help the suffering souls throughout London who were not willing to attend – or even welcomed into – a traditional church.

Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among his first converts to Christianity, and as his ministry grew, the gospel of Jesus Christ was spread far and wide to the poor, the vulnerable, and the destitute.

Though General Booth died in 1912, he laid a firm foundation for the lifesaving work that The Salvation Army continues to perform today in over 100 countries.

Catherine Booth was known as the “Army Mother.” In her world, women had few rights,no place in the professional sphere, and a minimal presence in church leadership. 

Yet in her marriage to William Booth, she became an evangelist, preacher, theologian, and co-founder of The Salvation Army.

A truly passionate Christian, Catherine believed that loving God meant loving people through action. Her legacy of love, sacrifice, and service continues to shape The Salvation Army today.

The seventh child of William and Catherine Booth, Eva Cory Booth was a gifted speaker, musician, and leader sent by her father to spread The Army’s mission in North America.

During her 30 years as national commander in the United States, Evangeline was responsible for the volunteers who served as chaplains and “Doughnut Girls” during World War I, and also for the division of the country into four territories.

In 1934, Evangeline became The Army's fourth general. She left America on the highest crest of love and popularity she had ever known, and retained her American citizenship until her death in 1950.

Though often considered a rude and even obnoxious rule-breaker, “Joe the Turk” opened many important doors for Salvationists across America.

With an inherent passion for protecting the persecuted, he eventually traded in his drinking and smoking habits for a life as a Christian, where he went on to serve as a spirited captain in The Salvation Army until 1925.

Famous for his colorful ministry and attention-getting antics, Joe was often “jailed for Jesus,” and he became known as a spiritual father to thousands of formerly lost souls.

Eliza Shirley pioneered the establishment of The Salvation Army in the United States.

After faithfully serving with the Booths in London’s East End as part of “The Christian Mission,” a 17-year-old Eliza followed God’s call to America.

There she joined her parents (who had recently immigrated to Philadelphia for work), and swiftly began her work for The Army. Her humble mission grew into a nationwide presence of peace and hope for those most in need.

After serving as the Booths’ family secretary in London, George went on to establish The Salvation Army’s presence in New York.

His talent for languages and love of travel also helped him pave the way for Salvationist work in France, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, China, and Japan.

In addition to creating Army song books in Zulu and Dutch and beginning the Army and Navy League for Salvationist servicemen away from home, Railton founded the Prison Gate work for recently released prisoners.

Well known as a minister to The Salvation Army's officers and soldiers in the United States, Brengle served for 30 years.

He believed that those who seek God “burst into flame” when they first touch Him and that they can bring those “left out in the cold” to His light.

To Brengle, the Corps was a sacred place from which the love and power of God could be communicated to all; entire cities could be energized and "lit up" by the prayer of soldiers who had “caught the flame.”


General Lyndon Buckingham and Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham
The General and Commissioner Buckingham for The Salvation Army International Headquarters. Read more

National Commander and National Secretary for Program
Commissioners Kenneth G. and Jolene K. Hodder are the National Commander and National Secretary for Program for The Salvation Army in the U.S. Read more

Salvation Army Officers

Salvation Army Officers
Operations of The Salvation Army are supervised by trained, commissioned officers. They proclaim the gospel and serve as administrators, teachers, social workers, counselors, youth leaders, and musicians. Read more

Salvation Army Soldiers

Salvation Army Soldiers
The soldiers of The Salvation Army (wearing blue epaulets), the committed laity, are local citizens in communities throughout the U.S. who give allegiance to the doctrines and disciplines of the Army. There are approximately 450,000 soldiers in the United States. Read more

National Advisory Board

National Advisory Board
Distinguished members of The Salvation Army's National Advisory Board are notable community leaders who voluntarily use their professional skills and knowledge to plan, advise, and generally assist The Salvation Army on issues of national significance. Read more


From its inception, The Salvation Army has relied heavily on volunteers who support its programs. Often referred to as "the army behind The Army," volunteers play a crucial role The Salvation Army's ability to provide quality social services for the entire community. Read more