Abilene News

Published 3:58 pm Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 2 – In last week's column, I wrote about National Doughnut Day, initially started by the Salvation Army as a way to honor the women who went to the battlefront during World War I.

That got me thinking about the Salvation Army – who are they? For many of us, the Salvation Army is made up of a group of volunteers who stand on the sidewalk during the Christmas holiday season ringing a bell and soliciting donations from passerby. We see them providing assistance during disasters – both here and abroad and we all know they do good work – but who are they?

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, began his ministry in 1852 in London, England, in an effort to win people to Christ. In 1865, he abandoned the conventional concept of a church and pulpit and took his message to the streets. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute. Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth's first converts to Christianity. To congregations who were desperately poor, he preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead people to Christ and link them to a church for further spiritual guidance.

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Booth decided to found a church especially for them – the East London Christian Mission. The Mission grew slowly but Booth's faith in God remained undiminished.

By 1867, Booth had only ten full-time workers, but by 1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all serving under the name “The Christian Mission.” Booth assumed the title of General Superintendent, which was shortened to “General” and the Hallelujah Army was born.

In a May 1878 annual report of the Christian Mission, Booth titled the report The Christian Mission Is A Volunteer Army. Not comfortable with the term “volunteer”, the word was changed to “salvation” and the Salvation Army was born.

By the 1900s, the Salvation Army had spread around the world and soon had officers and soldiers in 36 countries, including the United States. This well-organized, yet flexible, organization inspired a great many much-needed services such as women's social work, the first food depot, the first day nursery and the first Salvation Army missionary hospital.

During World War II, the Salvation Army operated 3,000 service units for the armed forces, which led to the formation of the United Services Organization (USO).

Today, The Salvation Army is stronger and more powerful than ever. Now, they are in over 106 nations around the world and continue to work where the need is greatest, guided by faith in God and love for all people.

So, yes, during the Christmas season you will see the familiar red shied of The Salvation Army on the little red buckets where volunteers are ringing bells outside local retail establishments. But you will also see the familiar red shield wherever there is a need – a family burned out of their home, a flood, a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake, a tsunami, and a myriad of other reasons that folks need help – both here and abroad.

Friends And Neighbors

Belated congratulations to Matthew Aaron Jones who recently graduated summa cum laude from Hampden-Sydney College. He is the son of the Rev. Jeffrey and Mrs. Pam Jones, of Nathalie, and the grandson of our neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Billy Slayton.

Many of our friends and neighbors had special Memorial Day celebrations over this past long weekend.

On May 29, four generations of the Nelson/Catron families had a mini-reunion at the home of Fred and Heather Catron. There were 16 family members in attendance including Fred's Grandmother, Nancy Nelson.

On Sunday evening Madeline Slaydon had dinner with Norma and Carl Lee Kernodle.

On Memorial Day, Madeline Slaydon had lunch with Barbara Armentrout and family.

Birthday wishes are extended to William Fifield who will be celebrating on June 5, and Tiffany Dempsey who will celebrate on June 11.

As the owner of three beautiful magnolia trees, which are in full bloom and smelling delicious, I had to chuckle at a comment made by Mark Twain in 1883: “The scent of the flower is very sweet, but you want distance on it, because it is so powerful. They are not good bedroom blossoms – they might suffocate one in his sleep.”

If you have any news or announcements that you would like to share, please call me at 223-2271 or e-mail me at kz5ro@kinex.net.