“Together we can help Kiwis in need”
The Salvation Army’s theme this year is “together we can help Kiwis in need” elaborated in a breakfast presentation with a series of short messages about the work of The Army and their annual appeal. One hundred and twenty years serving New Zealanders was celebrated at Booth House in Wellington, April 16, which also looked forward to Salvation Army Week, to kick off on April 28 until May 4.
A small gathering of Salvationists and supporters were present at the function, which included the official launching of their re-developed website, http://www.salvationarmy.org.nz.
The website was outdated, cluttered and suffered from lack of maintenance, so the Army decided to upgrade by using the web as a tool to enhance its mission, public profile, and image. The Army enlisted the services of e-Xpert Developments, whose “business is all about the web enabling of business processes”, said Director Evan Bayly.
Consultant for the project Jim Higgins said they had built a platform from which The Salvation Army can launch a number of initiatives that will take full advantage of emerging technologies.
“This will allow a range of applications to be developed that will benefit the diverse audience who will visit the site.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Garth McKenzie spoke first during the presentation on the history of The Army in New Zealand, announcing the primary mission of the church: “The Salvation Army is a human service provider: its message is based on the Bible, its ministry is motivated by the love of God; its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to every human being in his name without discrimination.
“It aims to care for people and transform lives in spiritual renew, and work for the reform of society by alleviating poverty, depravation, and disadvantage by challenging evil, injustice and oppression.”
Founded by William and Catherine Booth in the East End of London in 1865, it was originally called Christian Mission until the name change to The Salvation Army in 1878.
The prime motivation for its founders was to preach Christianity, but because there was a worldwide economic depression during the 1880s they also sought the physical, emotional and social restoration of Britons in trying circumstances and provide them with material assistance.
New Zealand was also affected by unemployment, poverty and social distress. Arabella Valpy, daughter of a rich and influential Dunedin pioneer, contacted General William Booth and urged him to send officers to “rescue perishing souls”. She included a bank draft of 200 pounds with her request. Auckland printer John Brame also promised help if officers could be afforded.
A captain and a lieutenant, both hardly out of their teens, were recruited and The Army’s first “open-air” meeting was held in Dunedin in 1883. At the end of 1883 11 local churches were established from Auckland to Invercargill and the end of 1893 saw 82 corps established with 300 full-time officers, half of them women.
Salvation Army Week this year is expecting to raise $2 million in street collections, direct mail appeals and envelope returns to assist their social and community work, and is a part of the $76 million social programming expenditure.
Visibility is crucial for The Army in its appeal, as they are no longer continuing door-to-door collections because of increasingly difficult and dangerous situation to get to households.
By Peter Veugelaers.
Published 2004, Challenge Weekly