The Salvation Army Celebrates 125 Years in Kilbirnie
The Salvation Army first opened its doors on Newton Street in Kilbirnie on the 2nd of June 1892 and has been offering life transforming services ever since. To celebrate the monumental 125 years of service, the community church hosted a weekend of activities with appearances by some of the organisation’s VIPs.
Commissioners Clive and Marianne Adams, who are the territorial leaders of the Salvation Army in the UK and Republic of Ireland, were front and centre for the weekend.
Commissioner Clive said he was honoured to be part of the celebrations and added, “Looking back through the years it’s fascinating to see the transformation of Kilbirnie and The Salvation Army.”
For all the changes, however, The Salvation Army has held fast to its position at the heart of the community and has remained committed to helping people overcome the social problems that still exist 125 years down the line.
From humble beginnings
Captain Polly Tantram and Lieutenant Joughin drove The Salvation Army’s presence in Kilbirnie, setting up the first church made of corrugated metal. The ‘tin hut’ filled a void and met the community’s needs to such an extent that a proper church building was opened in 1938. It has continued to grow and unveiled a much-needed extension in 2013.
In 1982, local social worker and Salvationist George Steven established the first service for adults with learning disabilities. He identified a need for more support for adults with learning disabilities locally and The Salvation Army believed in this community work so much that it opened the Kilbirnie Centre. In September 1989, The Salvation Army took the services a step further when it officially inaugurated the Garnock Valley Centre for adults with learning disabilities. Taking it even further, the service was relocated to Craigton Road in 2003. It was also rechristened the George Steven Centre in honour of its founder.
Lieutenant Wendy Leisk now has the honour of leading The Salvation Army in Kilbirnie. Lt Wendy is also the chaplain at the George Steven Centre where she delivers a regular programme of activities.
The services available at Kilbirnie include a lunch-club, sing group, band practice, toddlers’ group, craft and chat group, fellowship group, bible study coffee morning and messy church, and, of course, Sunday services.
Lieutenant Wendy said, “We are grateful for the chance to thank God and the local community because without them there would be no Salvation Army. The hall was packed to capacity on Saturday night for a celebration festival with our Ayr Songsters. The corps have been greatly encouraged and looking forward to the years ahead, where God will be worshipped and praised in Kilbirnie.”
Another Salvation Army VIP, Major Raelton Gibbs, Divisional Commander in the West of Scotland, said, “It was a privilege to have Commissioners Clive and Marianne with us for the anniversary celebrations in Kilbirnie. It is recognition of the vital work being carried out by our officers, volunteers and staff.”