Salvation Army Pioneer Commemorated in Scottish Home Town

Major Deborah Sedlar (right) and Major Jim McCluskey either side of the plaque


A commemorative plaque has been unveiled in Arbroath, Scotland, to mark the life of one of The Salvation Army’s most inspiring figures, George Scott Railton. Commissioner Railton, who was a Salvation Army pioneer in the USA, was born in Arbroath on 6 July 1849. There is a similar memorial in Battery Park, New York City, USA.

The plaque, donated by The Salvation Army’s USA Eastern Territory, was unveiled at St John’s Methodist Church in a short ceremony attended by the minister of the church, the Rev Mary Patterson, Salvationists and local people including clergy and councillors. The Provost of Angus, Councillor Helen Oswald, spoke warmly about The Salvation Army’s work in the Angus area and Major Deborah Sedlar (Under Secretary for Americas and Caribbean, International Headquarters) talked about Salvation Army ministry in the USA.

The son of a Methodist minister, George Scott Railton lost both his parents when he was 15 and was forced to go to London to find work. He joined The Salvation Army seven years later and, in 1880, travelled to New York with seven female officers (ministers) to start the first Salvation Army mission in the United States. The Salvation Army is now the second biggest charity in the USA, and has more than 1,200 corps (churches) and almost 125,000 members.

‘Railton is one of Arbroath’s most famous sons and his role in The Salvation Army cannot be over-estimated,’ explains Major Jim McCluskey, manager of The Salvation Army’s Community Care Service (Angus) and a former corps officer at Arbroath. ‘Without him I don’t think it would exist in the form it does today.’

He adds: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be involved in a project which will bring new recognition to such an important figure. The Railton family history extends beyond our shores and is something of which Angus can be very proud and which should be celebrated.’

In later years, Railton went on to work in other parts of the world, including China and Japan.

Major Sedlar says that the people from Arbroath take great pride in the achievements of their townsman but admits that many had not realised ‘the impact a “local lad” had on the wider world’.

Commissioner William A. Roberts, National Commander of The Salvation Army in the USA, says: ‘The Salvation Army in the United States will always be grateful to the pioneering work of George Scott Railton, the first National Commander. Railton’s bold leadership immediately captured the attention of the American public. His fervent evangelism resulted in hundreds turning from sin and wasted lives. His organisational skills cast a sure foundation for the Army that still profits us to the present day.

‘As one of those who are the beneficiaries of his legacy, first as a Salvationist and now in my present appointment as his successor as National Commander, I am grateful for the fruit still born from his sowing.’

For more information on the life of George Scott Railton go to:

 Based on a report by Chris Beaton

Media Officer

UK Territory with the Republic of Ireland

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