This weekend, the Salvation Army is inviting the community to help them celebrate 90 years of their ministry in Penticton.
“We’re sort of middle-aged in the grand scheme of the Salvation Army,” said Christine Simmons. The community ministries director added the Salvation Army has been in operation in Canada for more that a century.
“The original Salvation Army started in England in 1865, so it’s well over 100 years old,” she said, adding that while the Sept. 17 dinner is sold out, the public is welcome to attend the celebratory church service and concert on Sept. 18.
The work of the Salvation Army in Penticton started from very humble beginnings, according to Simmons. The first service was held on Sept. 4, 1921, in support of a Vancouver Salvation Army band, who arrived for their visit on board the S.S. Sicamous.
“We didn’t come in with a bang, it was just a few people, but it’s grown over the years,” said Simmons.
The church’s first home in Penticton was a rented building on Front Street. It wasn’t until 1930 that they were able to build and dedicate their own building on Main Street, where they stayed until 1975.
Right from the start, Simmons said, church members were helping others.
“The folks who came would have been coming to start a church, but part of that work, an integral part of the church, is the social aspect,” she said. “Once they got a place to set up a building, they would have begun to help people with basic needs.”
Now, the Salvation Army continues to run several outreach ministries in the community, including a men’s shelter, two thrift stores and the community food bank.
“As the city has grown over the years, so the need has grown,” said Simmons. “The more people you have, the more folks you are going to have needing help with the basic things in life like food and clothing.”
The weekend kicks off with a sold-out dinner Friday evening, but Simmons said the party will continue with their Sunday worship service. It will feature some special additions, like special guests Majors Larry and Lynn Farley, who were pastors of the Penticton church from 1984 to 1988.
That will be followed in the afternoon by a celebration of music, which is open to the public and starts at 2:30 p.m. The day echoes the very first service, which also featured an open-air meeting in the afternoon and a gathering in the evening.
“It’s just folks getting together and singing songs of praise,” said Simmons. “We have a church band that participates in our worship and we have our choir, who will be singing.”