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Salvos from the start

Monday, 20th July, 2015

Arthur Gullidge Arthur Gullidge

THE Salvation Army is celebrating its 150th anniversary of The Salvation Army worldwide.

Founded in the slums of London by former Methodist minister William Booth, the Salvos quickly spread worldwide and they are now operational in 126 countries.

Dusty beginnings

Broken Hill Salvation Army was opened by Captain Cranwell in 1887 using Coombe’s Ironmongery in Argent Street for its meetings.

Other Salvation Army Corps (churches) followed: Broken Hill West in Gypsum Street, Broken Hill South in 1893 and Broken Hill North in 1895.

In her book, Booth’s Drum - The Salvation Army in Australia 1880-1980, Barbara Bolton writes: “By 1895, in spite of an exodus of Broken Hill miners to Western Australia, the Army was maintaining four corps (churches) in the Silver City and people were being turned away because the halls could not contain them.”

In times of need

It’s often said that The Salvation Army has a ministry of “presence” - of being there in times of need.

The Broken Hill Salvation Army has always supported its community.

In the early days it raised funds for widows and orphans left after mining accidents, and during the 1903 water famine it helped with the relief effort. Today, The Salvation Army in Broken Hill operates a Salvos Connect Centre, a Family Store, a crisis accommodation service for those who find themselves homeless, and disability, respite and day programs.

Silver City Greats

The Salvation Army in Broken Hill has produced its fair share of outstanding Salvationists.

Born in 1885, Jim Crocker became a local legend.

In Barbara Bolton’s book, she writes: “He [Crocker] grew up there learning to handle horses, to play hard and drink hard.

“He eventually went to work in the mines where he learnt to know the men and the conditions of their lives first hand.”

After coming into contact with The Salvation Army, Jim’s life changed.

He spent the next 40 years in service to God and his home city.

“He became the Chaplain on the Barrier, the workman asked to perform the funerals of other workmen, the man turned to in times of trouble.

“He died in 1960 after receiving an M.B.E and the Army’s Order of the Founder of this work in the community.”

Another local hero was Arthur Gullidge, who went on to become the author of one of The Salvation Army’s most cherished brass band compositions.

Born on April 9, 1909 at Broken Hill, to Salvationist parents William and Emily Gullidge, he faced hardship early in life when his father was killed in a mine cave-in.

His mother, who had previously been a Salvation Army officer, returned with young Arthur to her family home in Tasmania and was later re-appointed as an active officer.

During his formative years, Arthur learned the cornet.

Following the outbreak of World War II, as Bandmaster of the Brunswick Corps, he enlisted with a number of his men and together they formed the core of the 2/22nd Battalion Band.

Members of the band, as stretcher bearers, soon faced the reality of war when they arrived with the battalion in Rabaul, New Guinea.

It was here, amid the trauma of the battlefield that Gullidge was to write a piece of music that would forever regard him as one of the Army’s great composers; Divine Communion.

Alas, Arthur Gullidge would never see a printed manuscript of his masterpiece. He was taken prisoner-of-war when the Japanese invaded Rabaul on January 23, 1942 and lost his life on board the Japanese transport ship, the Montevideo Maru, which was torpedoed off the coast of the Philippines by an American submarine.

The Army in Silverton

Salvation Army Captain George Phillips came to the booming settlement of Silverton in the year 1884. He was just 17 years of age.

Not long after his arrival, he held an open air meeting in the centre of town. Not everyone was happy about this - it appears that The Salvation Army’s first attempts at evangelism in Silverton were rather unprofessional and crude!

A writer in the Silver Age makes the point that if the Army’s “exhibitions” were to be recognised as religion, then it would be better for all if the community was allowed to “glide into free thought or unobtrusive atheism ... as quietly and as quickly as possible.”

These scathing attacks, however, did not deter Captain Phillips from his mission and the open air meetings continued! Life in a water-starved town like Silverton meant that typhoid fever was an ever-present threat.

When one of the local publicans’ wives died from typhoid, Captain Phillips ignored their strained relationship and offered to help.

The distraught publican asked if the Captain could make a coffin for his deceased wife, and having had experience in carpentry, the Captain promptly make the casket and afforded the woman a decent burial.

Captain George Phillips left Silverton in 1885.

A Salvation Army Barracks was built on the corner of Thackaringa and Gipps Sts, and was later removed to Broken Hill by jinker in 1900.

The site is now covered by drift sand and saltbush, but in its time was a prime piece of real estate which boasted one of the few corner street lamps scattered around the township.

Celebrating 150

The Salvation Army celebrated its 150 Year Anniversary with an international congress in London. Called “Boundless”, the congress celebrated the past and focused on new ways to bring hope and light to people across the world in the future.

During “Boundless” The Salvation Army Broken Hill opened up the church and live-streamed congress sessions.

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