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14 April, 2022

Celebrating 100 years of Salvos

A CENTURY of giving, supporting, loving and prayer will be recognised this weekend, as the Atherton Tablelands Salvation Army celebrates its 100th year of servicing the region.

By Ellie Fink

Salvation Army Tablelands Corps Leader Miriam Newton-Gentle is excited to announce the 100th anniversary of the organisation on the Tablelands.

Over that time, the organisation has been present in different locations, offering a helping hand to anyone who walks through the door with a request. 

Salvation Army Tablelands Corps Leader Miriam Newton-Gentle has the responsibility of taking the organisation into its second century, giving her the opportunity to dive deep into the history books. 

With the knowledge of many Corps Leaders passed down through those history books, Miriam hopes to share their great achievements and help inspire members of the Salvos to help continue its long legacy of kindness. 

“The official first entry in our history book was written on 12 January 1922 and that’s when Captain Daisy Fordham arrived in Herberton to start the first Salvation Army for the Atherton Tablelands,” she said. 

“The original buildings are currently still in the Herberton Historical Village – it’s not used as a place for people to go in but it’s used as a storeroom for safekeeping for the rest of the village. 

Throughout Miriam’s research, she has pinpointed several locations where Salvation Army halls have been erected – one of the main ones at 43 Mabel Street, Atherton, which was the second hall where they gathered. 

“There was a tin toilet block in the carpark and they were the toilets that originally went with the hall – they only took them away very recently,” she said. 

A new hall was opened in the 1980s on the corner of Kelly and Armstrong Street in September 1981, which served the Salvation Army until 2019, when it moved to its current venue on the Main Street of Tolga. 

After the war, Salvation Army began a lifelong partnership with local Nashos, becoming very heavily involved with the first Victory of Europe (VE) Day in 1945. 

Now, Miriam and the team have found themselves again working alongside local Nashos, a partnership that will continue to support veterans and keep the legacy of the Anzac tradition alive. 

Significant changes came as the transition into the modern age started making its way to the Tablelands in the 1950s with the old horse and cart finally being replaced by their first automobile in 1954. 

Miriam explained how receiving the car made a huge difference in the way the organisation operated, allowing staff to get to all corners of the region with much more ease. 

“Because the Salvation Army received its first car in 1954, it leads us to think that for more than 30 years, the Salvation Army travelled only on horseback, or a push bike or even foot falcon,” she said. 

“The towns are just as far away as they are now, so it made a huge difference getting from one side of the Tablelands to the other.” 

Although many parts of the Salvation Army have changed, Miriam says that its mission remains the same – honouring the love of Jesus and the kindness He gave that people now pass on over the generations. 

“It's still all about the love of Jesus. Basically, treating people the way that we want to be treated and that was William Burroughs’ vision when he first started the Salvation Army in London,” she said. 

“He was there for people and to look after them holistically and physically, as we do with our social programs and working for justice, building healthy communities, caring for people and creating faith pathways. 

“Today, we look very different – 100 years ago, people probably came to us for welfare and would simply receive food or clothing. 

“Now, of course, people look for fuel and help with electricity and to get phones going and all those kinds of things – the actual mission is not exactly the same as it was 100 years ago.” 

To celebrate coming into the next century, Tablelands Salvation Army will be hosting a service and garden party at the family store. 

Celebrations will kick off on 16 April, with the service starting at 2pm at 89 Kennedy Highway. For further information, contact Miriam on 0418 722 250.

The opening of one of many Salvation Army halls on Kelly Street Atherton in 1981.

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