Army still relevant even after 150 years
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