Salvation Army celebrates 100 years in Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 24, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY – The Salvation Army of Rowan County has been housed in at least four buildings since its inception nearly a century ago, but Lt. Lacy Morse said the mission of the ministry has remained the same.
“Our goal is to find people who need help spiritually, emotionally, physically and meet the need the best way we can,” she said. ‘That’s never changed.”
Sometimes that means providing tangible items such as food and clothing.
Other times it means offering words of hope and fostering fellowship.
The Salvation Army will host a series of events this week to mark its 100 years of service to the county coming up Oct. 1.
The four-day celebration will kick off Thursday with a history presentation at 7 p.m.
“We want to the community to come in and see what the Salvation Army is really all about,” Morse said. “We want to show them what we’ve done, what we’re doing and how far we’ve come since 1912.”
During the presentation, which will be given by local history buff Elizabeth Smith, people will get to see photographs and memorabilia such as an original uniform.
Friday’s block party will cater to families by offering entertainment in the form of music, games and inflatables from 4 to 6 p.m. A hotdog dinner will be served throughout the event.
Morse said Friday will also be a good time for people to tour the facility at 620 Bringle Ferry Road.
“We want to show people where we are and what we’re doing,” she said.
The ministry will host an open air sermon at 11 a.m. Saturday at City Park.
“The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth and he started it back in 1865 when you had to pay for your church pew,” Morse said. “If you did not have enough money to buy a pew, you didn’t go to church. So, he started the Salvation Army and it was set up outside so that the poor, homeless, sick, whoever could get the gospel too.”
The celebration will wrap up Sunday with church service starting at 10:30 a.m.
Major Willis Howell, Salvation Army divisional commander for North and South Carolina, will deliver the message that day.
During Sunday School that day, Howell will draw the winner of a Kindle Fire.
Morse said the Salvation Army has been doing a Sunday school campaign for the last six weeks. Each time children come to Sunday school, wear their uniform, bring a friend or bring their Bible their names were entered into the box for the drawing.
“For most of these kids never in their wildest dreams would they have something that nice,” she said. “But the biggest things we’re trying to tell them is that by coming every week they are experiencing the love of Jesus and that can put you on fire.”
Salvation Army services
More than 21 percent of Rowan County residents lived in poverty last year, up from about 11 percent since 2007.
That means more people are turning to the Salvation Army for help.
The ministry has been providing groceries and clothing for those in need since its inception.
Morse said between 25 and 30 people are gathered outside of the Salvation Army each Monday morning to get fresh bread and canned goods.
Soon, those people won’t have to wait out in the element.
“We’re going to open up the chapel and have somebody give a lesson,” she said. “It’s going to be getting cold soon, that way they can get the warmth of the building and the warm of God’s love.”
The Salvation Army has expanded to provide assistance with rent, utilities and prescription drugs such as insulin.
The famous red kettles that appear around the holidays helped about 700 local families last year by providing food, gifts and toys for children during the holiday season.
The ministry provides hot meals to children every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday during church services.
“They are already here so why not go ahead and feed them and send them home with a full stomach,” Morse said.
Youth ministry is held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday with dinner beginning at 5 p.m.
Families Eating and Studying Together meets at 6 p.m. Thursday for a meal and fellowship before splitting off into men’s and women’s groups or junior choir practice for the youth.
Looking to the future
Morse said she and husband, Lt. Josh Morse, would like to work on providing more services for area youth. The pair came to Salisbury at the end of June from a small town outside of Columbia, S.C.
“There are evident needs even just in this mile block,” she said. “It’s so important to get them at the age that they are now so we can encourage them to be something 10, 15, 20 years from now. That encouragement can come from a warm meal or sitting in a Sunday school class.”
Morse said the couple would like to begin an after school program the focuses on literacy.
“We don’t just want to be a babysitter,” she said. “We want parents to know that when students get here they are learning.”
Morse said they are actively seeking out grant funds to support the program and hoping to hire a retired teacher to work with the students each day.
“We hope this time next year instead of going home to an empty house, children can come here and continue learning,” she said.
Starting in January, Morse wants to open up the ministry’s basement on Friday nights.
“We want to turn it into a teen room, so that kids won’t be out in the community doing things they shouldn’t be doing,” she said. “We already have a pool table, but we would like to at a Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3 and XBox.
“Our hope is that we can create a safe place where kids can come and relax.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.