Christianity in Action: The International History of The Salvation Army. Henry Gariepy. Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009. 286 Pages
In this meticulously researched and engaging book, Colonel Henry Gariepy of Salvationist historian and biographer, presents The Salvation Army’s history of service from its beginnings in Victorian England to its present-day mission in all parts of the world. Compared with the Salvation Army’s own officially published history consisting of eight lengthy volumes to date, Henry Gariepy crafted a one-volume history of The Salvation Army’s origins and development right up to the present time. In this readable, alive history, Henry Gariepy with considerable skill presents Christianity in Action as a superb telling of the story of Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army has been acclaimed a phenomenon of religious movements, its name a byword around the world for its compassionate ministry. It touches down in 118 countries and Works almost 150 years. In this book Henry Gariepy documents the Salvation Army as Christianity in action, Christianity with its sleeves rolled up, out where the air is blowing, the issues are real, and people are hurting. Since its founding by William Booth in 1865, rated by historians as the most successful religious movement of the nineteenth century, The Salvation Army has a colourful and captivating history. Born in the slums and saloons of East London, initially ridiculed and severely persecuted, it has become a worldwide movement with a practical brand of Christianity recognized by royalty and heads of nations. The Salvation Army is seemingly everywhere, a signature movement on the landscape of many nations. Countless persons each year are the beneficiaries of its services. It is multifaceted and one of the most pluralistic of all organizations.
The Army could well be considered “seismographic”, responding spontaneously to the tremors of tragedy, the devastations of floods, fires, hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis, and earthquakes. In response to the outcry of anguish and suffering, it has responded in full force to global disasters, with trained personnel and equipment quickly on the scenes. It has often worked in concert with government-funded programs, the Army providing the personnel, expertise, and service, taking advantage of its infrastructure with staff and facilities already on location. The Indonesian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and other names associated with widespread human tragedy have become a part of its lexicon of disaster service.
As a history book, Henry Gariepy selectively omits historic details of interest only to Salvationists, details suitable only for the ongoing official history of the Army. Highlights, defining moments, and insights into the mission are presented here without the scaffolding that would compromise readability. Although written within an American context, Henry Gariepy exudes an international scope that will serve all readers interested in knowing more about the Army’s origins and ongoing mission. In presenting a definitive account of this unique and global organization, this historian