The Salvation Army in Piqua
Founder of the Salvation Army. William Booth, was born in Nottingham, England. He was converted to Christ through the efforts of a Methodist minister, and soon became interested in working with the poor people of Nottingham.
He preached on the streets and made hundreds of hospital calls before he was 20 years of age. From 1850 to 1861 he served as a pastor in the Methodist Church, after which time he and his wife left the church and stepped out by faith in evangelistic work in East London.
It was there that he organized the East London Christian Revival Society. Out of this beginning came the Salvation Army, with its uniforms, organization, and discipline. By 1930 there were branches in 55 countries. Its main emphasis under General Booth was street preaching, personal evangelism, and practical philanthropy.
The death of General Booth in 1912, was a blow, but with the mantle of leadership passed to his son, Bramwell Booth, growth of the movement was not interrupted. The Army began electing its generals (the top office in the organization) in 1929. The first female general was Booth's daughter, Evangeline Booth, who was in office from 1934-1939.
The current General, Linda Bond, commands the Army, which is now in 126 countries, from International Headquarters in London, England.
A forerunner of the Salvation Army came to Ohio originally in 1872, as the Cleveland Mission. It did not last long, but by 1885, the movement was back with some success in Cincinnati, Columbus, and St. Paris. By 1887, a small group planted seeds in Sidney, which were to bear huge, and nearly instant, fruit. Large crowds attended Army meetings in that Shelby County city - but so too did many detractors who regularly disrupted meetings with shouts, taunts, and rotten eggs.
Just weeks later, in April of 1887, the Miami Helmut a Piqua newspaper, reported that "the Salvation Army is soon to commence its peculiar plan of operations" in Piqua. The pioneers of this new kid on the "church block" were Captain and Mrs. Hinton who leased rooms in Border Hall located at the corner of Main and Greene streets. Meetings and marches were held each evening with Sunday services conducted. Unfortunately Piqua fared no better than Sidney as the Salvation Army activities attracted all the same types of disruptive behaviors. The result was that within three months, the initial Piqua adventures of the Army ended and the Miami Helmut reported bluntly that the "Salvation Army was evacuating from Piqua."
Other brief efforts at re-establishing a Salvation Army presence were made around the turn of the century, with a successful run from 1905 until 1911. When that effort ended, the Army's division officer declared that Piqua was a poor place for the Salvation Army to operate since "the churches seem to have everybody in town" - a comment which suggests that in 1911, Piqua must surely have been a very righteous place. (This author wonders if the same could have been said for Sidney or Troy at that time.)
With the exception of occasional appearances on the public square during World War I, the Salvation Army did not re-open in Piqua for a dozen years.
But that re-opening in November 1923 marked the start of a permanent presence.
The new Commander (and Mrs.) C. E. Smith established their headquarters and meeting place at 507 N. Main St. At a formal re-opening meeting held at the First Presbyterian Church, the successful launching of the current Salvation Army became part of Piqua's history. Headquarters moved to 538 S. Main St. in 1928. In 1933, the location moved to 129 S. Wayne St. This was headquarters until replaced by a new citadel was built to replace it during 1953 and 1954.
It is from this location that the Piqua Corps of the Salvation Army serves so many diverse individuals and their physical and spiritual needs under the leadership of Captains Doug and Bethannie Dolder
The responsibilities of the Dolders range widely from preparation and delivery of sermons (the Army functions just as any church would with a regular schedule of worship services each week) through classes to teach; Bible studies to present; assistance programs to coordinate; an active gym to supervise; and all administrative duties to perform.
Among the services offered are: utility payment assistance; pantry assistance (soap, cleaning, and laundry supplies); Christmas assistance; meals; limited prescription assistance; and limited amounts of emergency lodging assistance.
The largest area of direct assistance provided by the Salvation Army is the way of meals. A meal is provided for senior citizens each Wednesday. Twelve years ago, Major Margaret Starnes learned that a large number of Piqua kids who are assisted with meals during the school year lose this source during the summertime. That triggered a drive by the Salvation Army to provide summer meals to those kids. This program, aided by others who respond to the need, has resulted in hundreds of kids getting meals regularly in the summer.
- Portions reprinted from the Piqua Daily Call - Jan. 2009