On This Day in 1890, The Salvation Army Began It’s Work In Atlanta…
The Salvation Army officially began its work in Atlanta on October 19, 1890, in the fashion and in the kind of place upon which it had already laid its claim in many other American cities- by proclaiming the Gospel on the corner of Marietta and Spring streets in downtown Atlanta.
The officers, Major and Mrs. John Dale, who led the Salvation Army to Georgia in 1890 were originally from London, England. Persons in Atlanta who were sympathetic to the Army’s ministry among the poor apparently lured the Dales to that city with a sum of money for trainfare and the rental of a room for a few weeks.
The official opening, on Sunday, October 19, 1890 was a small affair, but vintage Salvation Army, Major and Mrs. Dale and Lieutenant Sarah Smith conducted an open-air evangelistic service on the corner of Marietta and Spring streets, followed by a meeting in their newly renovated assembly room.
In the year of the Army’s arrival on the scene, Atlanta boasted a range of civic and commercial amenities; seventy-eight saloons, seven undertakers, two branches of the YMCA, three “bands of music” for hire, twenty three banks, thirty-one colleges, schools and private trainers, one decorator in stained glass, one sculptor, one “portrait artist in crayons, pastels, watercolors and oil,” one detective agency, a new police patrol wagon and a new sewer system. The city school term was four months long; in some of their abundant spare time many children collected basketsful of lead bullets from nearby battlefields, which could be exchanged for merchandise at local stores at five cents per pound. Atlanta also had a number of churches, a Bible Society and several Gospel missions.
According to the Army’s own records, the first indoor meeting followed at once upon the open-air invitation at Marietta and Spring streets, in a room at 130 Marietta Street. Discarded boxes and planks borrowed from a friendly lumber dealer were used to make seats.
The work in Atlanta was established slowly, confronted with difficulties of public misunderstanding or indifference, chronic lack of funds and occasional outbursts of outright hostility from persons who regarded the Army’s moral crusade as a nuisance or threat.
Today, The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command serves more than 200,000 individuals annually through 320 programs and activities in 21 facilities throughout metro Atlanta. Programs which range from shelter for the homeless to after-school programs for local youth.