Corps is still going strong after 135 years giving Dereham a helping hand
For more than a century, a mid-Norfolk organisation has been transforming lives and helping to make change for the better.
And this year, the Dereham corps of the Salvation Army celebrates 135 years of supporting its community.
The history of the organisation dates back to the 1870s, when its founder, the Methodist preacher William Booth, moved to London with his wife Catherine.
Here, Mr Booth commenced his first open air evangelistic campaign in Whitechapel and preached in a tent. This ministry led to the formation of The Christian Mission and in 1878 it was renamed The Salvation Army.
Although Dereham’s branch cannot claim to go back that far, its impressive longevity hails back to 1883.
Its first meetings were held in the Theatre Royal, now the GP surgery, before it relocated in 1988 to its current home on St Nicholas Street.
Member Trevor Theobald, said: “It did not take long for the new church to establish and grow.
“The Salvation Army in Dereham is very much alive, both as a church and in a social context, as it continues to play a vital role in the community - just as the founder William Booth envisaged it should, all those years back.
“It does have quite a history.”
During the celebration weekend on June 23 and 24, members joined together for two-days of activities.
An exhibition of Dereham’s Salvation Army, looking at its past and recent work, was on display.
On the Saturday evening, there was a festival which included a performance by Norfolk Choral Fellowship and it was presided over by the leaders of the Salvation Army, Commissioners Lyndon and Bronwyn Buckingham, who have responsibility for more than 800 corps and social work centres, as well as many thousands of officers, members, lay staff and volunteers in the UK and Ireland.
Mr Theobald added: “It can be no surprise that an anniversary like this deserves to be celebrated.”
Music also continues to be a feature and the group is known for playing carols at Christmas time, both in the market towns and in carol services in local village halls.
Call to action: Dereham Salvation Army needs you!
When the members of Dereham Salvation Army decided to put together its history, they discovered that during several refurbishments of the current building in St Nicholas Street, as well as a modern extension, some of the Corps History went missing.
The branch is now appealing for help to fill in some of the gaps this has left.
Do you have any photos, oral memories, documents, diaries, or old newspapers? The group is particularly keen to hear from Dereham Salvationist families who may have been affected by the First World War, so they can be remembered during this year’s commemoration of the end of the war. During the Second World War, there was a red shield canteen in Dereham run by the Salvation Army. The group is also looking for people’s memories of this.
The information collated will be donated to the Dereham Antiquarian Society, custodians of Dereham History.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, post to 3 St Nicholas Street, Dereham, NR19 2BS, or ring 01362 851724.
Celebration: Anniversary weekend
Dereham Salvation Army celebrated 135 years of service to Dereham and surrounding areas with a busy weekend of events.
The theme of the weekend was Great is thy Faithfulness and this included an exhibition of looking back and celebrating the activities of the corps throughout the past year, entitled Dereham: A Vibrant Corps
in the Heart of the Community.
On the Saturday evening, after a celebration tea, 150 people attended a concert by the Norfolk Choral Fellowship, a group of Salvationists from all around Norfolk and Suffolk. The concert was also attended by the town’s mayor, Hilary Bushell.
The windows of the hall were decorated with flowers in red, yellow and blue and objects representing the many groups who make up the organisation in Dereham.
The Sunday saw vibrant morning worship led by the commissioners and a full hall celebrated in style with a hymn written by William Booth.
After lunch and the cutting of an anniversary cake the afternoon took the form of a Songs of Praise with other churches from the town invited to join in.