View Full Version : American Christian "street ministry" pre-Salvation Army

10-20-2011, 06:57 PM
Perhaps my google-fu is weak, but I'm having trouble finding information on Christian ministries in America before the Salvation Army came on the scene. Specifically, my story will be set in Los Angeles in 1871, but the SA didn't come to America until several years after that. Were there similar organization back then, or was it mostly local in scale? And what programs did they tend to operate, and how? Thanks a bunch for any help you can give.

L.C. Blackwell
10-20-2011, 09:07 PM
This is the closest I can think of at the moment. (Temperance Movement: see 1.7, United States.)


I've had the impression that at least some of these groups were actively involved in the rescue and reform of alcoholics, and may also have had a street ministry component.

10-20-2011, 11:06 PM
Also back then there were lots of 'tent' meetings. Open to the public. Many were held out of doors. Some in tents. In the cities or towns some were held in barns or halls.

In the LA area there was a big one that met in a livery stable. Azusa Street. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa_Street_Revival There is a plaque there today.

Back then there was lots of fire and brimstone sermons. Not just the 'tongue speaking' ones but also the Methodist and Baptists.

Because most folks were not from money I'm not sure what type of help places besides maybe some sort of soup kitchens might be set up. Most folks just helped each other out if they could as that area had tons of farming.

Siri Kirpal
10-20-2011, 11:17 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

This may be no help, but then again...

I do know that Methodists had circuit riders through to the end of the 19th century and maybe past it, and just about all locations that had white settlers.


Siri Kirpal

L.C. Blackwell
10-21-2011, 03:54 AM
Most established cities would have one or more functioning congregations and their clergy. The circuit rider was not (so far as I know) ever a fixture of city ministries, since his job was to reach rural populations who would not otherwise see a clergyman.

That's assuming, of course, that the OP is asking about urban-type street ministries... :)

10-21-2011, 04:46 AM
The Methodist Missionary Society established a street mission and refuge in New York (the Five Points Mission, established 1850) that was considered a model for other communities, but I don't know exactly what the scope of their work, if any, was in Los Angeles.

This (http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft1z09n7fq;brand=eschol)looks interesting.

10-21-2011, 06:51 AM
Were there similar organization back then, or was it mostly local in scale?

I haven't found dates that early yet, but you might try looking into the YMCA -- they were operating in CA not long after 1871, and had been a worldwide operation for many years, so it might be worth digging into; I would also suggest checking out specific denominations, as during that time work of the nature you are describing was generally either a small-scale local program, or (if a bigger program), then typically funded by larger denominations. Various Presbyterian denominations would likely be your best bet among Protestants, but keeping them straight gets a bit confusing during and after the Civil War.