Army still rel­e­vant even af­ter 150 years

Rutherglen Reformer - - News from the Pews - Dou­glas Dickie

The Sal­va­tion Army cel­e­brated it’s 150th an­niver­sary last week - and the ma­jor at their King Street base in Ruther­glen reck­ons they are just as rel­e­vant now as they were in 1865.

Ma­jor Michael Watkins says the Sal­va­tion Army are “rein­vent­ing it­self” right across the world.

Speak­ing to the Re­former as the church marked it’s spe­cial birth­day, Ma­jor Watkins said: “We are here for two pur­poses.

“Ob­vi­ously, as a church, we’re here to min­is­ter for the needs of peo­ple in a spir­i­tual sense, re­mind them of the val­ues for life in a gospel sense.

“Se­condly, we are here as a so­cial and com­mu­nity ser­vice which in­cludes our out­reach to peo­ple.

“We still main­tain our hos­tels for home­less peo­ple and main­tain our care cen­tres.

“Right here, in Ruther­glen, we have our lunch club five days a week where peo­ple can come and have a meal.

“We’ve also got a drop in ser­vice where peo­ple can talk to some­one in the knowl­edge it will be con­fi­den­tial.

“First and fore­most, we are a church but there is also that so­cial side as well, and those ser­vices de­pend on the needs of the com­mu­nity, so we are rel­e­vant to the peo­ple of the area.

“The gospel mes­sage never changes. It’s been rel­e­vant since the days of Christ and al­ways will be, be­cause it helps peo­ple raise their lives.

“We are still in a healthy state. Our Sun­day morn­ing ser­vice has around 45 peo­ple at­tend­ing it.

“Our Sun­day af­ter­noon can have a sim­i­lar amount.

“Ob­vi­ously we’d like to see more back, all churches have a di­min­ish­ing num­ber of peo­ple, but we are record­ing el­e­ments of growth within all sides of the church.”

The Army marked their mile­stone with an event in Lon­don last week, a fit­ting choice with the or­gan­i­sa­tion be­ing started in the cap­i­tal by Methodist min­is­ter Wil­liam Booth and his wife Cather­ine.

As well as pro­vid­ing so­cial care ser­vices in the UK, the Sal­va­tion Army op­er­ates as a church and char­ity in 126 coun­tries.

Ma­jor Watkins has been in­volved for 40 years, ar­riv­ing in Ruther­glen two years ago to over­see oper­a­tions with his wife, ma­jor Morag Watkins.

He added: “This is a new be­gin­ning for the Sal­va­tion Army.

“The cel­e­bra­tion in Lon­don has been an in­ter­na­tional cel­e­bra­tion, with peo­ple from all over the world tak­ing part.”

The Ruther­glen branch ac­tu­ally marked its own 125th an­niver­sary last year with a se­ries of events.

As well as their base in the Burgh, the Eva Bur­rows Cen­tre in Cam­bus­lang of­fers sup­port and ac­com­mo­da­tion for home­less peo­ple as part of its 1st Stop Pro­ject.

The gospel mes­sage never changes, it’s been rel­e­vant since the days of Christ

Sal­va­tion Ma­jors Morag and Michael Watkins, pic­tured with Provost Eileen Lo­gan

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