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May19TueRecognizing 125 years of Salvation Army ministry May 19, 2009 by Tara Bowie
It was a weekend to remember for the members of the Woodstock Salvation Army as they celebrated the church's 125th anniversary in the friendly city.
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Although the sky was dark and the wind was blowing Saturday morning locals gathered at the Museum Square for a lively reenactment of the life of General William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army.
Charlie Broughton of Hamilton played the General recounting his life story and telling the tale of how The Salvation Army began.
Booth was born in April, 1829 in Nottingham England to a poor family. By age 13 his father had died. He began working to help support his family.
His work as an apprentice pawnbroker was draining and hard. Daily, he dealt with the poorest and those with the most need, hawking their prized possessions to survive.
He began his search for a higher power and by age 17 he had delivered his first sermon.
In 1858, Booth became an ordained minister in the Methodist Church. Preaching for thousands of people, often in the street. Other ministers in the Methodist Church found his preaching style too radical and by this time Booth felt his life's purpose was to do more for ordinary people. To help those that truly needed it.
He started preaching in a revival circuit in East London. There he was able to reach the drunks, prostitutes and the down trodden and give them hope.
In 1865 he began the Christian Mission, which evolved into The Salvation Army.
By the time of Booth's death in 1912 The Salvation Army was established in 58 countries. Today, the organization has churches in 118 countries.
The church in Woodstock started in 1884.
"We are not volunteers. We do what we do because we must," Broughton said in the voice of Booth. "We are a salvation army."
Those words were echoed by Captain Owen Budden, the Woodstock church's pastor after the reenactment.
Budden said the legacy of Booth's intentions to help those who need it the most without discrimination lives on.
"There is a philosophy of soup, soap and salvation," he said. "First you feed them. Because if they're hungry they cannot listen. Then you use the soap to clean them up. Then there is salvation."
The church draws people from all over Oxford County. More than 100 worshippers attend every Sunday.
Budden admitted active membership has declined over the years, but that it's something every church is facing.
"Society is changing. But we are doing quite well, I think," he said.
Budden gave all the credit to God that the Salvation Army's presence in Woodstock has been so strong for so many years.
"There is no question. God guides the people that run the organization and has made sure to put the right people, the most talented and gifted in positions to help sustain the church all these years."
The 125th anniversary festivities are continuing throughout the year. The next event will be held on Sept. 27 at the church on Julianna Drive. A musical praise program has been prepared starting at 2:30 p.m.
Major Elaine Becker, a member of the church, has published a book on the history of the Army in Woodstock entitled To Be Continued: The Story of the Salvation Army in Woodstock.
The Salvation Army in Woodstock
Jan. 20, 1884 - The first town meeting of the Woodstock Salvation Army was held. A group from Ingersoll marched up Dundas Street hill singing army war songs followed by a curious crowd until they reached the town square.
1886 - The church bought the Primitive Methodist Church on 34 Graham St. Prior to that they were meeting in the town hall.
1890 - The citadel band was formed. The band supported Sunday services and until the late 1950s were a familiar site on the corner of Dundas and Finkle streets on Saturday nights.
1912 - Renovations to the Graham Street church were completed. The steeple was removed and a new facade installed.
1961 - A large new building was added to the church and all renovations were completed.
1973 - The Thrift Store was opened at the Old Avery Motors building at 514 Peel St. The building was demolished in 1995.
1993 - The Thrift Store was moved Finkle Street.
1997 - After 111 years the church was moved from its Finkle Street location to a brand new citadel on Norwich Avenue and Julianna Drive.
Photo: The oldest member of the Woodstock Salvation Army Church, Marianne Maltby, 93, and the youngest member Brooke Wegman, 6 1/2, cut the 125th anniversary cake Saturday at the church. Back row, left to right, Captain Owen Budden, Commissioner Donald Kerr, Commissioner Joyce Kerr and Captain Sandra Budden.
Reprinted courtesy of the Woodstock Sentinel-Review.