San Francisco Chinatown Corps celebrates 120 years

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Featured guests were the “musical force” from Hong Kong’s Kowloon Central Corps.

by Thomas and Joy Mui, Majors – 

A March of Witness was held in celebration of the 120th anniversary of the San Francisco Chinatown Corps.

With a mission to carry on a legacy and a task to recruit, train and equip disciples, The San Francisco Chinatown Corps recently celebrated its 120th Anniversary of serving the community.

To help celebrate the occasion, 51 Salvationists from the Kowloon Central Corps in Hong Kong, China came to San Francisco. The “musical force,” as they are called, includes a brass band and timbrel and songster brigades. Performing at Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, the San Jose Temple Corps, Silvercrest residences and the Concord Corps and Community Center—the band was heard throughout the Bay area.

As part of the celebration, more than 500 people attended a banquet at the Empress of China in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Guests included Divisional Leaders Majors Joe and Shawn Posillico, and Territorial Leaders Lt Colonels Don (chief secretary) and Debora Bell (secretary for women’s ministries). Lt. Colonel Check Yee was the evening’s featured speaker.

“God has been good to The Salvation Army in San Francisco,” Yee said. “The corps has grown and we are serving many, many people—helping them through their troubles and bringing them closer to God.”

A spectacular March of Witness culminated the week’s events. Accompanying the Hong Kong band were participants from Melbourne, Australia, Vancouver, B.C., Southern California and the Bay Area. Also joining in the march were over 100 young people from the Western Youth Institute, held at Camp Redwood Glen. Nearly 1,000 people witnessed the march and the open air in Portsmouth Square.

This corps has a rich history in the so-called “Old Gold Mountain,” as it is still referred to by corps members. In 1883, during the California Gold Rush, The Salvation Army began planting ministries along the West Coast. The drumbeat from an open air meeting attracted the legendary Chinese, Dr. Fong Foo-Sec, who was touched by Army’s zeal toward God and people. Having grown up a peasant child, Foo-Sec went on to earn a Ph.D. and L.L.D. before becoming an officer in The Salvation Army; he then began ministries in San Francisco’s Chinatown in 1886. Today, the corps is located in view of the Bay, Oakland Bridge and Alcatraz Island.

Chinatown Corps members have a tradition of providing assistance to disaster victims. They have been present at and/or held relief fundraisers for the San Francisco Earthquake in 1906, the Mexico and China earthquakes in the 1980s, the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the South Asia Tsunami in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

The prophet Isaiah said, “Enlarge the place of the rent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back, lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left” (Isaiah 54:2-3).

May Isaiah’s vision be our vision and Jesus Christ’s truth march on in San Francisco’s Chinatown.


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