Santa Barbara celebrates 115 years

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“Two uniformed male members of the Salvation Army were on the streets today. This is the first appearance of these peculiar people in our midst.” The Santa Barbara News Press, Oct. 24, 1889.

“…a Salvation Army group was standing on the curb on State street between Cota and Ortega streets and singing hymns to the annoyance of a man of the roof of an adjacent saloon. The man on the roof picked up his bucket of refuse, took careful aim and swung…the contents of the bucket drenched a well-to-do couple who were walking along the sidewalk. The couple were so enraged that they immediately bought out the saloon and gave the building to the Salvation Army as a shelter.” The Santa Barbara News Press, Oct. 29, 1939.

So began the Army in Santa Barbara, California. The corps was officially registered on October 27, 1889 and was led by Captain and Mrs. John Willis.

On October 24, 2004 they celebrated 115 years of service to the community. Major George Baker, Southern California divisional secretary for business, gave the message at the morning Holiness meeting. Baker’s parents, Majors George and Dorothy Baker, were officers at the corps in 1975-76, and dedicated the present corps building in 1975.

Brigadier Betty Whiteside, who soldiered at the corps from 1928 to 1940, shared her experiences. According to Whiteside, a typical Sunday schedule was as follows: knee drill—7-8 a.m.; jail meeting—10 a.m.; Holiness meeting—11 a.m.; Sunday school—2 p.m.; Chinatown meeting—3 p.m.; Y.P.L. Legion—6 p.m.; street meeting—7 p.m.; final meeting—8 p.m. Brigadier went to San Francisco Training College with the Crusaders Session and was commissioned by General Evangeline Booth.

The Tustin Ranch Band, led by Bandmaster Ed Freeman, continued the celebration with an inspirational concert in the evening, with Major Lee Lescano bringing the devotional.

Currently, the Santa Barbara Corps worships with the Carpinteria ARC beneficiaries and their families. The Kingdom Kids preschool and after-school programs provide care for 43 children. The Hospitality House provides 65 transitional living beds for a variety of programs and partners with Cottage Hospital to provide convalescent care for patients who require temporary housing after being released from the hospital. United States veterans are provided a place to stay and receive social services. The Job Club offers a place to stay for the homeless who are transitioning in to the workforce.

The future of The Salvation Army in Santa Barbara is bright, as people’s lives are being transformed for the glory of God by word and deed.

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