Spotlight on Europe Zone
William and Catherine Booth established The Salvation Army in East London in 1865. It was initially known as the East London Christian Mission, but soon started to expand throughout Europe and the world.
Today The Salvation Army is established in 35 countries across Europe – and in 134 countries worldwide. In Europe the newest expression of Salvation Army work is in Bulgaria, which was inaugurated in March 2021.
In recent years Europe has experienced many challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic, conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the resulting economic downturn have made life more difficult for many people. Despite this and the longstanding move away from organised religion, there are many exciting opportunities and developments for The Salvation Army within Europe.
We could focus on our work in anti-human trafficking, Roma inclusion, church activities and so much more. In this exhibition, first shown at Gallery 101 in September 2023, we have tried to reflect on how people’s lives are being changed through football, scouting and guiding and through the early vision of the Founder at the Hadleigh estate. We have also tried to show how together with other churches and governments we are making a difference to those families tragically affected by conflict.
In 1891 William Booth purchased 900 acres of land in south Essex, England, to put into practice the vision he expressed in his book, In Darkest England and the Way Out.
He aimed to provide a space for transformation through training in various forms of work and Christian teaching. This laid the foundation for The Salvation Army’s modern social welfare approach.
Today the estate consists of six areas of ministry:
The team provides activities for staff, trainees, volunteers and 700,000 annual visitors which focus on mission, discipleship and worship.
Hadleigh Training Centre
The training centre serves vulnerable adults living with additional support needs in Essex. It is the largest independent provision of its type in the county and actively demonstrates that fullness of life is available to all through Jesus.
It is important to care for God’s creation. One way to do this is through responsible land management, practised on the farm. Six-hundred acres of land are devoted to crops that are used for food production. Goats and sheep graze on the grassland. The farm is in a Higher Level Stewardship scheme which encourages farmers to protect and enhance the environment in various ways such as including certain animal habitats on their land, conserving biodiversity and creating nature corridors.
The Hub Café is located in Hadleigh Park, which is open every day of the week and offers a great community space. It was the host venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games mountain bike event.
Rare Breeds Centre
The Rare Breeds Centre provides a unique way to engage with people and share the good news while helping to conserve certain species of livestock through education and breeding programmes.
The estate managers aspire to be excellent stewards of the unique area, which features three Sites of Special Scientific Interest, hosts rare species of fauna and flora, two monuments and an important late-medieval castle. The land management team continues to realise the vision of William Booth while preserving, protecting and actively listening to nature.
The Norway Salvation Army Section for Care for Substance Abusers has incorporated football into its work for a long time. The Salvation Army has been responsible for the Norwegian national street soccer team since 2005. To be a part of the national team, the players must sign a contract agreeing to be substance free.
The Salvation Army is responsible for the Open Norwegian Championships in street soccer. This tournament started on an annual basis in 2007, attracting five teams. This year in Oslo, 38 teams (nine women’s, and 29 men’s teams) competed in the event. In 2023 there are 25 local teams that are a part of The Salvation Army Street Soccer.
At the Open Norwegian Championships in street soccer
The Army has established The Street Soccer League which consists of local and regional tournaments that take place every second or third month. Winners advance to the finals where they compete for the National Street Soccer League Trophy.
An important part of the project is the academy. This is a leadership programme for (former) street soccer players who want to progress into leadership roles, such as coaches, referees and sports managers. The coaches of the men’s and women’s teams in Sacramento 2023 Homeless World Cup are former players who have come through the academy.
United Kingdom and Ireland
Now in its 13th year, the Partnership Trophy is the United Kingdom and Ireland Territory’s annual football tournament for its Lifehouses (supported housing). It runs in collaboration with the Salvation Army Housing Association and the Homelessness Services Unit. The event is an opportunity to grow in unifying love for ‘the beautiful game’.
Players train and compete in local leagues throughout the year, providing focus and camaraderie. The tournament is the pinnacle of their commitment to the Lifehouse team.
At Twhe Salvation Army's Partnership Trophy 2022 match
A few years ago, a French survey revealed that 80 per cent of people in positions of responsibility, whatever their field (professional, political, voluntary...), had taken part in scouting in their youth.
The Salvation Army was quick to recognise the benefits of this movement. As early as 1910, William Booth, who had spotted its potential, received a letter of authorisation from Lord Baden-Powell – the founder of international scouting – to create Salvation Army Scouts. Today, Salvationist scouting takes place on five continents and brings together more than 3,000 children, young people and leaders in 14 European countries.
In several countries, many officers (church leaders) spent time participating in Salvationist scouting as children, teenagers, or leaders. For many, these special moments have had a positive effect on their personal and spiritual development.
Scouts enjoying the views during a hiking adventure in France
The values of scouting – learning by doing, autonomy, commitment, team life, solidarity, mutual aid, etc. – are in line with the values of The Salvation Army. They prepare members for civic commitment in everyday life and help them to adapt to unexpected situations that are bound to arise.
Life in the wilderness may add an extra dimension to more traditional evangelism. Many children and teenagers discover Jesus Christ through The Salvation Army’s scouting activities. Feedback from former Salvation Army scouts via social media is unanimous: all recount unforgettable memories and the impact that scouting has had on their lives.
So, are you ready to take up the challenge of life's great adventure?
The Salvation Army in Zurich began to receive Ukrainian refugees in the city’s main station as early as 19 March 2022. Groups comprised mainly of women, children and the elderly. Local volunteers supplied refreshments. In cooperation with other churches, as many as 50 volunteers provided relief to more than 12,000 people.
After registration, initial care and accommodation, the local Salvation Army distributed quality clothing from a large tent situated next to Zurich station through its project Hope – Clothes for Refugees.
Traditional dance is one of many recreational activities for the refugees in Zurich
Over time, the focus of the work shifted from emergency provision to supporting everyday living, pastoral care and job placement. Everyone is included in these efforts, enabling community-building, providing space for healing and hope for the future.
Whilst there is much more to be done, life has improved for the many people who were forced to flee their homes and separate from loved ones.
Two Sides of a Conflict
In any conflict, there are always two sides. In the current situation in Eastern Europe, The Salvation Army finds itself working in both Ukraine and Russia. Although it is a difficult time for Salvationists in Russia, everyone is united in their prayers for peace.
Through corps (church) ministry, they continue to support local individuals and communities despite ever-decreasing resources. Scouting and guiding are important ministries for the children and youth, along with summer camps. Ministry also continues for the homeless at several corps, including the provision of food, and the opportunity to wash clothes, have a haircut and receive spiritual guidance.
Hairdressing services for the homeless at Moscow Corps Social Centre