In 1865, William Booth spent his days preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute people of London, England. In his attempt to reach these people, Booth challenged the accepted concept of church and took his preaching to the streets. Booth traveled throughout England conducting evangelistic meetings. Booth’s services were an instant success. He quickly became well known as a religious leader throughout London and attracted followers who were dedicated to fighting for the souls of men and women.
In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers, but by 1874, Booth’s followers had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists. At this time, the group was serving under the name “The Christian Mission.” The group officially adopted the title of “The Salvation Army” in August of 1878.
The ministry migrated to America in 1879, where The Salvation Army’s first meeting took place in Philadelphia. After receiving a warm welcome, The Salvation Army expanded its operation throughout the United States. Today, there are more than 9,000 Salvation Army centers and local neighborhood units in the United States.
The Salvation Army came to Rochester on May 4, 1884. Services were held out in the open or in stables. Several months later, 18 church members are arrested for singing and parading in the streets.
In 1900, a homeless men's shelter was established at 365 Exchange St. and the first Christmas kettle was set up top collect for Christmas dinners and toys.By the mid-Nineteen Thirties, an emergency home for women and children was added on Andrews St. and in 1953, Rochester's Salvation Army held its first children's summer camp. In 1957. an Emergency Disaster Center was opened at 150 North St. (North St. is now called Liberty Pole Way)
The Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) opens the Lida Bell Lunt House to provide drug and alcohol treatment, and a halfway house, for women in the mid-Seventies. Lunt was the founder of the Rochester Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary.
Today's Salvation Army in Rochester started to take shape after that with Temple Corps opening where it stands today, at 915 N. Clinton Avenue, in 1978; Genesis House, the shelter serving homeless and runaway youths opening in 1981 and just two years later, Booth Haven Shelter begins offering services for homeless men.
The Nineties added Northwest Corps at 100 West Ave and Hope House shelter opening in 1999 to serve homeless women. In 2005 the shelter begins to admit mothers with small children and another need was addressed, that of chronically homeless men with the opening of Safe Haven shelter giving those that had often been left behind services and new beginnings.
Today, with four shelters and three churches plus an emergency and family services program, The Salvation Army of Greater Rochester serves those in the most need in Monroe County.
For more detailed information and an in-depth look at the history of The Salvation Army, visit
The International Heritage Centre: » http://www.salvationarmy.org/heritage.nsf