Salvation Army Celebrates 120 Years Of Serving Chattanooga

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The 120th birthday of the Salvation Army officially beginning its life-changing ministries in Greater Chattanooga is Saturday. To celebrate, the Salvation Army will have a birthday party at Hamilton Place Mall Saturday beginning at 10 a.m. and continuing throughout the day.  Birthday cookie cake will be available for a $5 donation, free coffee and musicians will perform on the mall’s center stage.

District Officer J. C. Smith arrived in the Scenic City on March 16, 1893. The next day he greeted Chattanoogans with these timely words, "We (come) with peace, charity and goodwill toward everyone, and we trust we shall succeed in doing good." 

After all these years, the Salvation Army is serving in 127 countries, and its Red Shield is one of the most recognized "brands" in America. Moreover, the words of Adjutant Smith's introductory remarks still ring true today in Chattanooga and around the globe for the Salvation Army's promise is "Doing the Most Good for people in need with donors' contributions of money, time and resources." 

"On the occasion of its 120 birthday, the Greater Chattanooga Salvation Army wishes to express its sincere gratitude to our friends whose kind wishes, prayers, gifts and 'shoe leather' co-labor have blessed us and selflessly served the needs of our less fortunate neighbors through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan wars, fires, floods and tornado outbreaks," said Kimberly George.  "Together, the community and the Salvation Army have been providing shelter, food, clothing, furniture, disaster relief, Christmas assistance, physical, spiritual and emotional care for 120 years." 

Chattanooga Salvation Army History Facts: 

The first Open Air meeting was held on March 18 at the corner of Ninth and Market Streets. 

The first indoor service was held in the Methodist Church's Carter Hall at 105 Carter St. where it meets Frank Street. 

The first Salvation Army leaders in Chattanooga were Captain Harry Roe and Lieutenant H. Henington.  

Corp officer, song leader and guitar player in those first days, Captain Annie Glosser, was known as "Shouting Annie." 

The Army's first shelter – a four-story workingman's hotel – opened Nov. 18, 1903 at 532 Market St. A meeting room and a dining room comprised the first floor and the local officers lived on the second floor. The hotel began on the third floor where apartments rented for 25 cents and dormitory beds rented for 15 cents. The fourth floor dormitory beds cost 10 cents a night. 

The Salvation Army has been located on Georgia Avenue, in Alton Park and on Roanoke Ave, all before finding its home on McCallie Avenue. 

The Army purchased its initial property on McCallie Avenue in June 1975. This property still houses an innovative church program and the ReCreate Café for the homeless, the Residential Re-entry Program and its administrative offices. 

Today, the local Salvation Army offers church and community center programs for all ages in Brainerd, East Lake, Cleveland and houses its Family Store in East Ridge. 

Other local Salvation Army programs include: 

The Social Services Ministry in East Lake, which empowers individuals and families to work toward self-sufficiency by providing emergency utility assistance, food boxes and vouchers, and rental assistance. Over 25,000 persons were served in 2012. 

Disaster Services, which feed, hydrate and shelter disaster victims. In recent times, the Salvation Army has assisted in relief efforts for those affected by fire, floods and the tornado outbreaks in 2011 and 2012. 

Holiday Assistance Programs, which share the joy of a Christ-filled Thanksgiving and Christmas to thousands of families and individuals whose needs would not otherwise be met. In 2012 over 53,000 toys and gifts were distributed. 

Volunteer Opportunities in the community saw over 18,000 volunteers donate time valued at over $1-million in 2012.

A convert from an earlier Salvation Army mission in the area was quoted in the March 18, 1893 Chattanooga Times, "Yes, sir, I tell you there are dozens of men and women in Chattanooga whom have been inestimably benefitted by the Salvation Army. It is a body of common people working among the common people." 

The Greater Chattanooga Salvation Army still strives to fulfill Adjutant Smith's words of March 17, 1893 – doing the most good. 

For more information, contact Ms. George, director of Marketing and Development at 503-1801  or 756-1023.


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