Saturday, September 6, 2008

An inspiring past

With our 125th Anniversary rapidly approaching, I took the opportunity recently to browse through the original history book of The Salvation Army in Brunswick. The official record tells of how a brass band and group of soldiers from Hotham (North Melbourne) marched up Sydney Road to begin the work in Brunswick in August 1883. The church which had been borrowed for the first meeting was too small, accommodating only around 400 people, so they held an overflow meeting across the road with another 500!

Today, we are talking a lot about ‘holistic mission’ – meeting the needs of the whole person: material and spiritual. This is evident in almost every page of these early records. To become part of The Salvation Army meant a series of significant changes in one’s life. Renowned drunkards became reputable soldiers, ‘fallen women’ were housed and helped, even members of the ‘Skeleton Army’ who regularly harassed the Salvationists were saved and began new lives.

The following entries show how quickly and effectively responses were made to people in need:

May 1928
Through lack of employment, many people were faced with severe poverty during this month. To meet this need a soup kitchen was proposed.

June 5th, 1928
With the first week in this month the soup kitchen was opened and was continued consistently until the early weeks of September. Commandant Walker who worked night and day to make a success of the venture was ably assisted by Envoy Mrs Temple and the Home League. Between June and September much distress was relieved. There were altogether:
  • 2052 gallons of soup given away
  • 9285 basins of soup to school children
  • 3964 billies of soup to families
  • 4457 loaves of bread
  • 3 ½ tons of potatoes
  • 212 dozen buns and rolls
  • over 400 families assisted with clothing
  • large numbers of fuel and groceries orders and also cash relief with assistance for rent.
The Home League members put in 1278 hours free labour, while Commandant Walker’s hours are recorded in Heaven.

As we plan and work today for the future of The Salvation Army in Brunswick and everyone in our community, we hope that we will be able to live up to the inspiring legacy our history has left us.

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