Salvation Amy church services started outside
Celebrating 125 years of Giving Hope In Parry Sound
PARRY SOUND - For many people the world over, The Salvation Army is a social agency working to meet the practical needs of people struggling amidst the grip of poverty, addiction, and natural disaster.
So often overlooked is the fact that The Salvation Army is an international Christian church.
Its message and the lifestyle it advocates are based on the Bible's teaching. Its work is to make known the good news about Jesus Christ and to persuade people to become his followers.
Everything The Salvation Army does is rooted in the faith of its members. The confidence Salvationists have in a loving and caring God finds outward expression in their love for humanity and their practical response to human need.
With roots in the Wesleyan tradition, The Salvation Army’s objectives have always been “the advancement of the Christian religion…of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole.”
From the beginning, the Army in Canada adopted founder William Booth’s philosophy that there is little point preaching ‘salvation’ to hungry people. And so the concept of ‘soup and salvation’ took hold, later to be developed into the comprehensive social service programs The Salvation Army operates today.
But first and foremost, The Salvation Army is a Christian church – and one that has been actively living out its Christian message and lifestyle in the Parry Sound area for 125 years.
The Formative Years: 1887-1907
The Salvation Army began its work in Parry Sound in 1887, just twenty years after Confederation, and quickly began giving hope to those in need in the community and throughout the surrounding area.
Unlike many Canadian communities, Parry Sound welcomed the arrival of The Salvation Army and soon accepted the officers and soldiers as a vital part of the community.
On October 14, 1887, the North Star wrote, “Since the Army ‘opened fire’ on Parry Sound they have done a good deal of good and we are sure that we speak the minds of all our citizens when we say we wish them abundant success.”
During these early years, open-air meetings were held at the corner of Seguin and James Street every Wednesday night. By July 29, the North Star could report, “The Salvation Army again held an open-air meeting on the corner of Seguin and James Streets on Wednesday evening. A noticeable feature of the service was that, whereas last week only about half a dozen persons took part in the services, on Wednesday evening upwards of thirty persons were present who professed to have found salvation by the efforts of the officers of the Army.”
The meetings were moved to the barracks in the East Ward as attendance increased and church services were held there until 1907.
The Growing Years: 1907-1982
In 1907, after experiencing a significant increase in church membership, The Salvation Army moved to 42 Gibson Street to what was known as the Old Hall as well as the Indian Friendship Centre.
At this location, The Salvation Army continued to grow – not only in church membership, but also in its practical response to the needs of many in the community. A Thrift Store was opened next door to the 42 Gibson Street location, providing the community with an affordable shopping option and a place to recycle old clothes and furniture. The Salvation Army’s social programs were being established and reaching out to those experiencing poverty’s cruel grip through food programs, counseling, and support.
As time passed, the facilities at 42 Gibson Street became inadequate. In 1960 a local building committee was set up to begin preparations for a new citadel. Property was purchased at 61 Gibson Street and the new Salvation Army church was opened January 5, 1963. William Booth’s grandson, Commissioner Wycliffe Booth was on hand to officiate the opening of the new church.
The Transformation Years: 1982-Present
The two decades that followed the building of the new church brought with them a period of prosperity – and procreativity! The Baby Boom was in full swing and the church experienced another period of numerical growth. By the early 1980s more expansion was needed. In May 1982 a gym and kitchen were added to the first floor as well as additional rooms on the lower level.
Less than a decade after the expansion was completed The Salvation Army Sunday School had grown to over 120 children. Three school busses navigated the town picking up children and bringing them to church. Church membership continued to grow during these years as well.
The Thrift Store, which had functioned for many years at 42 Gibson Street relocated to the newly expanded church on October 14, 1982 before moving to its present location at 82 Joseph Street.
Today, 125 years after The Salvation Army ‘opened fire’ on Parry Sound, the mission and values that shaped this church in its formative years continue to inform and guide it in its work of saving souls, growing saints and serving suffering humanity.
Church programs still form the foundation of all that is done by The Salvation Army. Personal devotions and worship together in the community of believers are vital parts of Salvation Army spiritual life, as are Bible study, prayer and meditation.
As a result of its faithfulness to its mission and values, The Salvation Army is now the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the Parry Sound area.
It strives to give hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday. The Salvation Army continues to offer spiritual and practical assistance to children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life.
The Salvation Army extends an invitation to all to join it in celebrating 125 years of faithful service as a church for the community. Celebration activities will take place the weekend of May 5-6, 2012. More information can be obtained by contacting The Salvation Army church directly at (705)746-5391.
About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Parry Sound in 1887 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the West Parry Sound district.
The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday in 400 communities across Canada and 124 countries around the world.
The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction.