Changing lives for two decades

Major Paula Knight with Helen Mackay, Bicester Salvation Army's longest serving member PNL-160120-141734001
Major Paula Knight with Helen Mackay, Bicester Salvation Army's longest serving member PNL-160120-141734001
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A local church and charity has begun its 20th year of serving the community from its centre on Hart Place, Glory Farm.

Bicester Salvation Army is marked the milestone by welcoming back previous church leader Lieutenant Paula Rampton (now Major Paula Knight), who opened the building 20 years ago.

Major Knight led an anniversary celebration service on Sunday, followed by a community lunch.

The Salvation Army started its work in Bicester in the 1980s from the home of a Salvation Army minister.

Since moving into its current centre in 1996, Bicester Salvation Army has helped hundreds of people through its community programme which currently includes a toddler group, a community café and a drop-in centre for homelessness and addiction.

Captain Debbie Pearson said: “The Salvation Army is dedicated to caring for the local community but without your generosity we wouldn’t be here today.

“We were overwhelmed with the kindness of so many who went out of their way to make donations to us this Christmas. As a result, we were able to serve a Christmas meal to 20 people experiencing homelessness and make sure each person had a present to open. Your gifts really did make a difference.”

Last year, The Salvation Army celebrated 150 years of Christian service.

Founded in London’s East End in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth, today the Christian church and registered charity is active in 127 countries worldwide.

Since its early days, social action has been central to The Salvation Army’s Christian faith. In 1885 Salvationists successfully campaigned for the age of consent to be raised from 13 to 16 and in 1890 the church and charity opened the UK’s first labour exchange.