Many people think they know The Salvation Army. They’ve seen the red kettles and been to the thrift stores. But those are just a few pieces that speak to the reach of this international, social services and church-based organization.

Commissioner David Hudson joins Today’s Conversation with Leith Anderson to explain:

  • What most people don’t understand about The Salvation Army;
  • How an organization that was started in the 1800s has adapted and remained relevant today;
  • What the Army has learned about poverty through its enhanced case management program; and
  • How the organization functions as a Christian denomination while operating significant social services.

Read a Portion of the Transcript

Leith: The Salvation Army has maintained a strong evangelical, biblical commitment and a strong commitment to the poor and social justice since the 1800s. During that time period, there was a reaction among many who are committed Christians to the social gospel. A lot of them said, “You shouldn’t be doing this. Just do the message and not address the poor and social justice issues.” Has that been a challenge for the Army to face some of those criticisms and disagreements and differences on this?

David: Yeah, it certainly has. First of all, I articulated our mission earlier, and so I simply say our mission demands that we respond. When I look to our true founder — William Booth got us going and everything, and God used him — but I say our true founder is Jesus himself. When Jesus was walking the earth, time and time again he met human need when he saw suffering. He went and he met that [need], and he showed care and compassion. The one thing that I marvel at Jesus is that he never asked for pre-qualifiers before he healed or he served. He saw a need and he went. I think Jesus being the role model of what we do, we have to respond to these needs. You know people say, “Miracles are in the past. We don’t see the miracles like we used to.” But you know what? When I go down to some of our centers, and I hear the life stories of people and I see the transformation in people’s lives, I say this is where we have to be. Our mission absolutely demands it.

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Today’s Conversation is brought to you by Belhaven University.