Salvation Army celebrates 150 years in Chatham
published on 27 Mar 2023
A year of events to mark 150 years of The Salvation Army in Chatham got under way with a service of celebration at Rochester Cathedral earlier this month.
General Brian Peddle and Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, international leaders of the church and charity, joined Commissioners Anthony and Gillian Cotterill, leaders of The Salvation Army in the UK and Ireland and local dignitaries for the event.
The General said he was delighted to attend.
He commented: “The church reflected its impact in the community through the testimonies of people who said they have found new meaning in life, a place to serve and a place to belong. The Salvation Army in Chatham is alive and well. Part of our visit included a delightful service in the beautiful Rochester Cathedral. We give thanks and praise to God for all that has taken place there.”
Major Ian Payne leads the church and charity in the town and said the service will be remembered for years to come.
He said: “Things like this don’t happen very often. At the service, we were also delighted to welcome back some people who had been attached to the church at some point. Our band and songsters will be holding other events throughout the year.”
Opened eight years after the establishment of The Salvation Army itself in 1865, Ian, who has extensively researched the local history of the church, revealed leaders at the time were disappointed at the initial numbers of people attending.
He explained: “Despite this, there was a real determination to turn people’s lives around. In the early days, worship was first held in a lecture hall which seated 6,000 people. Historically, Chatham was well-known as a notorious area for crime and alcohol abuse. Conditions were awful but The Salvation Army helped change people’s lives and that has continued.”
In modern times, Ian said The Salvation Army is seeing the numbers of people helped in Chatham go up.
He explained: “Our programmes have changed and are about the whole person as well as the spiritual person. On Wednesdays for example, the hall is full with more than 100 people coming through our doors asking for support in areas like health, education and benefits. It’s a great privilege to lead The Salvation Army here.”