The Salvation Army Sweden and Latvia territory
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early-largeThe Salvation Army started its work in Jelgava and Riga in 1923. It was the time of Latvia’s first independence. It had its first officers (Pastors) in training one year later! In its first ten years it established 17 Salvation Army Churches throughout Latvia, four of them being in Riga. Documents from 1937 show there were twenty-two Latvian officers working throughout Latvia. A hostel for 160 homeless men was established in Riga and all centres operated soup kitchens, a feature of Salvation Army social concern.
On the 14th September 1943 by order of the Nazi S.S., The Salvation Army was ordered to close down its operations and its property in Riga, was seized by the occupying forces. Major Lonija Gorksa was the last officer to leave the building in 1943, taking with her the cloth from the rostrum, various documents and the official stamp of The Salvation Army. For fifty years the Army went underground, but faithful Latvian officers used birthdays and names days as an excuse to gather its members for Bible Study and prayer in order to keep the fellowship alive. Four of these officers were still living when the Salvation Army recommenced its work on the 18th November 1990.
soldiers-largeThe Salvation Army is distinctive in its belief that religious and social work must go hand in hand. The founder of The Salvation Army – William Booth believed that it is impossible for a hungry and dirty person to listen to the Gospel. First one must show Christian love in action, and then a human heart will open to hear the Good News. The motto of The Salvation Army is soup, soap and salvation. Thus in all our Corps (churches) parallel to spiritual work, which includes: services, Sunday schools, Bible studies, prayer events, youth and women’s fellowship meetings; social work is also carried out: soup kitchens and distribution of second hand clothes.
The Salvation Army does social work not only in its churches, but also through various institutions.