The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army, which was born and created in England, settled in France in 1881. Its aims were to evangelize and to provide the lower classes with social help.

Fighting poverty

  • William Booth (1829-1912) founder of the Salvation Army © M. Muller - Armée du Salut

In England, in the heydays of the Industrial Revolution, the preacher William Booth founded an activity of social and spiritual nature : the Christian mission which became the Salvation Army in 1878.

William Booth aimed at waging war against poverty. That is why he set up an army with its officers, enlisted recruits and appointed Joint Chiefs of Staff, considering himself as the highest-ranking general. The battlefield to conquer is the world. To reach the masses, W. Booth innovated off the beaten track : marches in the street, brass bands, out-door gatherings and in-door coffee shops. Initially he met with strong opposition.

Settling in France

  • Catherine Booth (1829-1890), "mother of the Salvation Army" © M. Muller - Armée du Salut

In 1881, the Salvation Army established itself in France with Catherine Booth, the General’s twenty-two year old daughter. With two lady friends of her age, she settled in the middle of the Belleville-Menilmontant popular neighbourhood. The beginnings were hard : guffaws, gibes and general rowdiness. The Parisians nicknamed her the “the Marshal’s wife”.

Extensive social work went along with this evangelization : popular hostels, homes for young girls in danger.

Many outposts of the Salvation Army were opened up all over France.

Associated notes

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  • Social Christianity

    At the end of the 19th century, some pastors, shocked by the poverty-stricken situation of the working-class, initiated a reflection on social justice.
  • Protestant education

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  • The missionary movement

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  • The faculties of theology in the 19th century

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