ON 2 July, The Salvation Army celebrates Founders' Day – remembering the incredible step of faith taken by William and Catherine Booth to set in motion what is now a truly international church and charity. This year, the day takes on extra significance as it begins the 365-day countdown to the Army's landmark 150th anniversary celebrations, including the International Congress.
This year, International Headquarters (IHQ) has put in place two special social media initiatives to get the world talking about The Salvation Army on Founders' Day.
David Giles, the IHQ Web Manager, explains: 'A Thunderclap is a simultaneous burst of social media that is sure to get The Salvation Army noticed. We need at least 500 people to share a simple "happy birthday" message at precisely midday London time on 2 July. All you have to do is sign up to the Thunderclap at sar.my/thunderclap, using your Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr accounts, and your account will send out the message at the same time as everyone else who has joined in. If you don't already use one of these social media facilities, it's quick and easy to sign up for one first.
'We already have participants from around the world – of every rank and none. Whether you're a Salvationist, employee, volunteer, service-user or just an admirer or friend of The Salvation Army you are encouraged to add your voice now and to ask your own network of friends, family and colleagues to join in too. The social reach of the 255 people already registered (their total network of 'friends' or 'followers') is already more than 300,000. If we make our target of 500 or more participants we would expect a worldwide reach of well over half a million people!'
At International Headquarters, officers and employees will be marking Founders' Day with a mid-morning tea and address from General André Cox. Participants are being encouraged to wear national dress to this special occasion, to acknowledge the growth of The Salvation Army from poverty-stricken East London in 1865 to more than 125 countries today. The event will raise money for the Mind the Gap sponsored delegate appeal, to ensure that the Boundless Congress to be held in London next July can be attended by people from every country where there is an active Salvation Army presence.
In order to celebrate the global reach and cultural diversity of our movement, the IHQ Communications Section is challenging Salvationists to share pictures of themselves wearing national dress or uniform on Founders' Day. This can be done via social media (using the hashtag #SAFoundersDay on Twitter or via the IHQ Facebook Page) or on our special web page at sar.my/foundersday which will be updated throughout the day itself.
God didn't inspire William and Catherine Booth to start The Salvation Army only for its members to keep it to themselves! Social media and the Internet make it possible for Salvationists to spread their experiences of God's work around the world in an instant. David says: 'Let's use the interest raised by the 150th anniversary celebrations to grab the opportunity to tell the story of The Salvation Army more widely than ever before.'
Feature by IHQ Communications