|Fields||Evangelism, Outreach, Social Action, Poverty Relief|
Church Army is an evangelistic organisation and mission community founded in 1882 in association with the Church of England and now operating in many parts of the Anglican Communion across the UK & Ireland.
Church Army was founded in England in 1882 by the Revd Wilson Carlile (afterwards prebendary of St Paul's Cathedral), who brought together  soldiers, officers and a few working men and women, whom he and others trained to act as Church of England evangelists among the poor and outcasts of the Westminster slums. As a curate in the parish of St Mary Abbott, Kensington, Carlile had experimented with unorthodox forms of Christian meetings and witness, going to where coachmen, valets and others would take their evening stroll and holding open air services, persuading onlookers to say the Scripture readings, and training working people to preach. Carlile wanted to share the Gospel with people who wouldn't dream of setting foot inside a church and training people of the same class - ordinary lay people people - as evangelists. This was at a time when similar groups were appearing - the Revd Evan Hopkins was organising a 'Church Gospel Army' and other clergy had established a "Church Salvation Army" at Oxford and a "Church Mission Army" at Bristol. Carlile suggested a combined "Church Army".
As the work grew, a training institution for evangelists was started in Oxford with F. S. Webster as Principal, but soon moved (1886) to London, where, in Bryanston Street near Marble Arch, the headquarters of the army was established. Marie Louise Carlile (1861-1951), Wilson Carlile's sister, was a frail woman who left a life of elegance for the tough, austere life of training women in 1888, followed by the first "Recue Shelter" for women in 1891, and continued in the mission for fifty years as leader of the Church Army Sisters.
William Booth had already seen the extreme poverty and need for unorthodox evangelism work, and since 1865 had been developing a similar mission (in 1878 given the name Salvation Army), using similar "Christian soldier" metaphors, also in London slums. Church of England bishops approached Booth about the time Church Army was founded to join in their work in the slums, but he declined. Both the Church Army and the Salvation Army continued to work in the most dreadful slums; both had some difficulty with their parent churches (Church of England and Methodist) being able to cope with those coming out of the slums as a result of the mission work, and realised the need for alcohol-free refuges.
In 1965 a new chapel, the Church Army Chapel, Blackheath and college designed by E.T. Spashett ARIBA, in Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath, London SE3 was opened by Princess Alexandra and consecrated by Michael Ramsey. The Headquarters were in Marylebone Road, London NW. In 1978, Church Army purchased Winchester House, a former missionary school (see Eltham College) in Blackheath, south-east London, to be refurbished as its new headquarters. It was officially opened by the Queen Mother on 12 June 1980. In 1992, the Church Army vacated the Vanbrugh Park college buildings and the college was relocated to Sheffield; the buildings were taken over by Blackheath High School.
In 2010 the national office of Church Army relocated from Sidcup in London to the Wilson Carlile Centre in Sheffield (formerly the training college), bringing together the national staff with the training and research staff. Training became non-residential and the building was converted to provide national offices and modern conferencing facilities together with en-suite accommodation.
Principles and practices
Church Army has over 300 commissioned evangelists who have been commissioned and admitted in the Church of England after 2–4 years of training with Church Army. Church Army Evangelists will not necessarily work directly for Church Army but may instead work in Anglican churches, projects, and teams in the United Kingdom and Ireland. There are similarities to the Salvation Army, and the two sometimes work together (such as in the Fresh expressions initiative), but Church Army is not a separate church denomination.
Church Army's funded work focuses on centres of mission and key projects and tend to operate in areas of deprivation.
The first centre of mission was established in 2008 and many more have been launched across the UK and Ireland since. A centre of mission is formed in partnership with a Church of England diocese in order to support the Christian outreach in an area. A centre of mission's purpose is to support and connect with communities, normally with high levels of poverty, outside of the church. This work does not operate from a physical building but sees partnerships with local initiatives and organisations and setting up new groups and activities for a community. The work is contextual and varied depending on the needs of an area. Some examples of the work that centres of mission do includes setting up youth groups, running foodbanks and food provision services, launching fresh expressions of Church to help people engage with God outside of a traditional church service setting, and supporting the homeless, lonely, those struggling with poverty, sex workers, and other isolated or marginalised groups.
Church Army key projects include:
- Cardiff Residential Services (supporting homeless young people in Cardiff through accommodation at Ty Bronna and wider support)
- The Amber Project (supporting young people in Cardiff and surrounding areas who have experience of self-harm, through counselling, workshops, theatre groups, and informal support)
- Marylebone Project (working with homeless women in London as one of the largest women's only hostels in the UK and Ireland, wrap-around support, and rough sleeper drop in)
- Made in Marylebone (a social enterprise for homeless women in London, providing training and work experience in catering and business)
The current president of Church Army is Rowan Williams, previous Archbishop of Canterbury and before him Desmond Tutu, emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel Peace Prize laureate was the president.
Every September, Church Army celebrates Church Army Sunday; this is the Sunday nearest 26 September (the anniversary of Carlile's death in 1942), the day on which Carlile and the Church Army are celebrated in the revised Anglican Lectionary.
Des Scott was appointed Interim CEO in June 2019 after Mark Russell's resignation, and is now Church Army's CEO, leading the organisation in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Des has been part of Church Army for over 30 years in various roles including as a London youth worker, overseeing Church Army's Operational Team, and held the post of Deputy CEO from 2012 until being appointed as Interim CEO.
Church Army International
Church Army International, established in 2006, is an association of eight independent Church Army societies around the world (Africa, Australia, Barbados, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, United Kingdom & Ireland, and the United States) working in over 15 countries. The purpose is to facilitate communication, co-operation, fellowship and shared vision between Church Army societies and to promote the growth of the Church Army's ministry worldwide.
The leader of each society is a member of Church Army International Leaders' Forum chaired by the International Secretary. The forum has four telephone conferences each year and the leaders together with those responsible for training and board representatives meet together for a residential conference approximately every three years.
In 2009 Church Army in Canada was renamed Threshold Ministries.
Church Army trains individuals in evangelism vocation. A selection process by Church Army ascertains whether a vocation in evangelism is suited to an individual before beginning a 2-4 year training course. Church Army training aims to develop understanding of pioneering evangelism and Church Army's DNA. All training is part-time alongside other work or personal commitments to allow learning to practiced in context. Training includes opportunities for practical mission, weekend training residentials with interactive teaching sessions, and sessions with a Reflector with whom to discuss growth and personal development with.
In the past, Church Army training was full-time residential. Between 1965 and 1991 the Wilson Carlile Training College was at 27 Vanburgh Park, Blackheath, where the premises included the Church Army Chapel. The last training college was at the Wilson Carlile Centre in Sheffield. The buildings previously used for residential evangelists is now a conferencing centre and accommodation.
Each additional Church Army Society internationally is responsible for the training of its evangelists. In some situations, students are paired with evangelists currently serving in the field; others attend residential schooling.
- 1942–1949: The Revd Hubert H. Treacher
- 1949–1951: The Revd Edward Wilson Carlile; grandson of Wilson Carlile
- 1951–1960: The Revd Edward Wilson Carlile; title changed from General Secretary to Chief Secretary
- 1960–1976: The Revd Donald Lynch
- 1976–1984: The Revd Michael Turnbull; later Bishop of Durham
- 1984–1990: The Revd Michael Rees
- 1990–2006: Philip Johanson; first lay person appointed leader of Church Army
- 2006–2019: Mark Russell; title changed from Chief Secretary to Chief Executive
- 2019–2021: Des Scott
- 2021–present: Peter Rouch
- "Be Inspired: The Vision". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
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- "Our History". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
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- Murdoch 1996, p. 111.
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- Wilkinson 1996, p. 154.
- "Court Circular; "Thatched House Lodge, Richmond Park, May 6"". The Times. 7 May 1965. p. 16.
- Rhind 1993, p. 119.
- "Dare to Step Out?". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
- "Building Communities Since 1882". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
- "Centres of Mission Q & A". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
- "Centres of Mission". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
- "Key Projects". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
- "Our President". Retrieved 21 October 2020.
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- "Our CEO". Church Army. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
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- "Johanson, Capt. Philip". Who's Who 2018. 1 December 2017. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.22068. Missing or empty
- "Peter Rouch - Chief Executive". Church Army. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
- Murdoch, Norman H. (1996). Origins of the Salvation Army. Univ. of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-0-87049-955-5.
- Rowan, Edgar (1905). Wilson Carlile and the Church Army. Hodder and Stoughton.
- Wilkinson, Alan (1996). The Church of England and the First World War. SCM Press. ISBN 978-0-334-02669-3.
- Rhind, Neil (1993). Blackheath Village and Environs: The village and Blackheath Vale. 2nd ed. rev. and updated. 1993. Vol 1 (2nd ed.). Bookshop Blackheath Limited. ISBN 978-0-9505136-5-2.
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- Official website
- Church Army evangelist on a London Estate (video at Premier.tv)
- National Council for Voluntary Youth Services
- public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Church Army". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 329–330. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the