A year of events to mark 150 years of The Salvation Army in Chatham started with a service of celebration at Rochester Cathedral.
International leaders of the global church and charity, General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle (World President of Women’s Ministries), joined Commissioners Anthony and Gillian Cotterill, territorial leaders of The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom and Ireland, for the event.
A place to serve and a place to belong
The General, who was delighted to attend the service, said, ‘The church reflects its impact in the community through the testimonies of people who have found new meaning in life, a place to serve and a place to belong. The Salvation Army in Chatham is alive and well! Part of our visit included a delightful service in the beautiful Rochester Cathedral. We give thanks and praise to God for all that has taken place there.’
Major Ian Payne, who leads the Salvation Army in the Medway town, said, ‘Things like this don’t happen very often. At the service, we were delighted to welcome some people who had previously been attached to the church. Our band and songsters will be holding other events throughout the year.’
A determination to turn people’s lives around
Opened in 1873, eight years after the establishment of The Salvation Army’s precursor The Christian Mission, Major Payne, who has extensively researched the local history of the church, revealed that leaders at the time were disappointed at the initial numbers of people attending. He said, ‘Despite this, there was a real determination to turn people’s lives around. In the early days, worship was first held in a lecture hall which seated 6,000 people. Conditions were awful but people’s lives were changed and that has continued.’
The Salvation Army is seeing the numbers of people supported in Chatham rise. He continued, ‘Our programmes have changed and we are a lot more social now. On Wednesdays for example, we have more than 100 people come through our doors asking for support. It’s a great privilege to lead The Salvation Army here and to still be doing now what people did originally.’
Based on a report prepared by Tim Green, Communications Officer