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In 1865, William Booth, an ordained Methodist minister, aided by his wife Catherine, formed an evangelical group dedicated to preaching among the ?unchurched? people living in the midst of appalling poverty in London?s East End. Booth?s ministry recognized the interdependence of material, emotional and spiritual needs. In addition to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, Booth became involved in the feeding and shelter of the hungry and homeless and in rehabilitation of alcoholics.
Booth and his followers, originally known as The Christian Mission, became The Salvation Army in 1878, when that organization evolved on a quasi-military pattern. Booth became "the General" and officers ranks were given to his ministers.
The Salvation Amy has functioned successfully within that unusual structure for more than a century. As of 2005, its outreach has been expanded to include more than 100 countries, and the Gospel is preached by its officers in more than 160 languages.
The basic social services developed by William Booth have remained an outward visible expression of the Army?s strong religious principles. In addition, new programs that address contemporary needs have been established. Among these are disaster relief services, day care centers, summer camps, holiday assistance, services for the aging, AIDS education and residential services, medical facilities, shelters for battered women and children, family and career counseling, vocational training, correction services, and substance abuse rehabilitation. More than 30 million a year are aided in some form by services provided by The Salvation Army.