March On!

March has always been a significant month in Salvation Army history. It was 133 years ago, on the 10th day of this month, when Commissioner George Scott Railton; Captain Emma Westbrook, a 10–year Christian Mission veteran; and six women Salvationists arrived in New York City. The women wore blue uniforms with high–collared tunics with the name “The Salvation Army” embroidered in large letters. When the “invasion party” marched onto the docks in Battery Park, they boldly proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ and sang “Way Down on the Suwannee River” and Old Kentucky Home.”
Although Railton had planned to locate the Army’s national headquarters in New York City, local ordinances on street preaching and public assembly restricted such privileges to clergy of already–established denominations. To his dismay, Railton was prohibited from holding further open–air meetings.
Undaunted, he headed for Philadelphia, where Eliza Shirley and her family had conducted their breakthrough open–air meeting just six months earlier. It was a historic moment for The Salvation Army in the United States when Railton’s contingent met Shirley’s followers in Philadelphia on March 24, 1880. They held a special public meeting so that Railton could formally present the Army flag sent by Catherine Booth.
“This was the biggest meeting of my life,” Railton later wrote. Approximately 1,500 people, of all colors, including 200 soldiers wearing Army hatbands, made their way into the Athletic Hall, rented for the occasion. They cheered and sang the spiritual “My Lord, What a Morning, When the Stars Begin to Fall!”*
The determination to march on in the face of setbacks and loss is a daily challenge for all of us. From something as profound as mourning the loss of a Salvation Army icon such as Major Angelo Rosamilia** (as I did recently at Kensico Cemetery), to something as trivial as locking your key in the car (as I did the morning after), God has called us to be “transfigured” by His glory, to stay the course, and to march on.
In this Good News!, you’ll see the Army as it continues to march forward—with the installation of new territorial leaders, the invitation to prospective officer candidates, and the opening of new and refurbished facilities in the Adult Rehabilitation Centers Command.
God’s Truth keeps marching on!

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