By Matthew Liebenberg
An organization that has been active in Swift Current since before it became a city, has reached an important milestone.
The Salvation Army celebrated 110 years in Swift Current with a well attended community barbecue, June 21.
Over 160 people enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, ice cream and cupcakes as well as fellowship to mark the occasion. Those present included retired Salvation Army corps officers Major Don and Elizabeth Grad, Mayor Al Bridal and Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley.
The celebration was combined with the final Wednesday night community meal before the summer break. Lieut. Bill and Renee Mailman, the current Salvation Army corps officers in Swift Current, were pleased with the good turnout.
“This is a fantastic turnout,” Bill said. “We put the word out. We planned for a lot and I don’t know if we quite expected everybody to come, but we’re really glad they did.”
Renee added that the incredible support of the community has been a highlight since they came to Swift Current as corps officers in 2020. She reflected on an incident from the Salvation Army’s history in the city. It happened around 1917, when the organization’s building burned down.
“The entire building burned down, but within less than a year, because of the community support and support of other churches in the area, the Salvation Army was able to purchase their own building really quickly,” she said. “So it just kind of highlights how wonderful this community is.”
The Salvation Army started in Swift Current on June 21, 1913, when the first meeting took place in the Lyric Theatre. Thereafter meetings were held in the Eagle Theatre, which was situated downtown on Central Avenue near North Railway Street.
The Salvation Army was located in different buildings around the city over the years. It moved to its current location at 780 1st Ave. NW in 1998.
It provides many programs and services, including the Thrift Store, community and family services such as the food bank, a justice program offering mediation and alternative measures for restorative justice, and a church program.
“We have a very faithful, but small congregation at the moment, but we’re trying to build on that and increase it,” Bill said.
Renee added that all the Salvation Army’s activities in the community are related to its values as a church.
“Everything that we do is an outpouring of being a church,” she said. “All that we do is because we want to love the community and the people in the community the way that we have been called to as a church to love people.”
The Salvation Army’s presence in Swift Current for 110 years is a testimony to its ability to respond to the needs of the community.
“Some of the challenges we’re facing right now is increased need in the community, especially around food insecurity,” Bill said. “We’re seeing quite a bit of increase in our food bank access and usage, which is putting a little bit of strain on us. But as far as helping out the community, I don’t see us going anywhere anytime soon. So I think the future is pretty bright for the Salvation Army in Swift Current, especially from the support of the community. I feel the more we give, the more the community gives.”