Band recalls Spokane beginnings

Service held where local mission began in 1891

by Kevin Graman –

Cadet Sean O’Brien takes part in Spokane’s open-air concert. [Photo by Jay Kroebel]

It’s unclear whether any souls were saved, but “Onward Christian Soldiers” rang out from brass instruments as The Salvation Army held an outdoor service Friday [April 2, 2010] in downtown Spokane [Wash.].

A handful of spectators braved Good Friday cold and rain on the corner of Riverside Avenue and Howard Street, the very spot where the evangelical Christian group began its Spokane mission in August 1891.

Back then, a cornet player in a red shirt and three ladies playing a concertina and tambourines drew a crowd for the first Salvation Army outdoor service.

On Friday, local congregants were joined by seven cadets on spring break from The Salvation Army Officer Training College in Palos Verdes, Calif., who performed Christian hymns and skits.

“Instead of going to Florida, they came to Spokane,” said Capt. Kyle Smith, head of The Salvation Army Spokane.

Smith joined the band on tuba as lunchtime passersby cast glances at the little group of musicians, which included a rapper from the college.

Among those stopping to watch and listen was Robert Garritty, 44, who said he and his two children were the first homeless people admitted to the new Salvation Army Family Shelter when it opened its doors in October 2007.

After spending nearly two years in transitional housing, Garritty said he and his family are back on their feet thanks to The Salvation Army.

“They provide more than a roof,” Garritty said. “They give you direction so that you learn you don’t have to be homeless anymore.”

The cadets performed during Easter Sunday services at 9 and 11 a.m. at The Salvation Army chapel, 222 E. Indiana Ave.

Copyright, 2010, The Spokesman-Review, April 2, 2010 issue. Reprinted with permission of The Spokesman-Review. All rights reserved.

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