The Durham Area Command of The Salvation Army, serving Durham, Orange and Person Counties, was established over one hundred years ago. Based today at Liberty and Alston Streets, in the heart of Durham’s most troubled neighborhoods, the Durham Corps provides job and agency referrals, food, clothing, financial assistance and counseling to more than 5,000 citizens per year.

The Army received little response when it tried to establish a presence in Durham in 1887. In May of 1910, a burgeoning Durham responded quite differently to Capt. And Mrs. James Breazeale. When they farewelled, they left behind a small corps and citywide confidence in the Army’s work.

A number of successors extended the work. In 1912, Ensign and Mrs. William bouterse strengthened the corps program, with several hundred persons regularly listening to the street meetings. Religious, moral and social conditions in the city were bettered and the public appreciated the serious and efficient work of the Army. The officers worked person-to-person with illiterate individuals. The Army’s social service system was so adaptable that when the city’s charity system was reorganized, Ensign Bouterse was given general oversight of this work. Soon, the Army was named the dispenser of all the city’s charities.

As the century moved forward, an outpost at the mill section of Edgemont gave special focus to children. Girls were organized into a uniformed corps of Girl Guards. In 1937, a Red Shield Club began for boys – the precursor of today’s Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, the oldest such organization in the city. During the 1980s, the Army ran an Emergency Transient Lodge for homeless people. And through it all, the corps jumped into the fray during times of crisis, such as the Hurricane Katrina of 2005.

Today’s Durham Corps, under the leadership of our Officers, focuses on spiritual and social needs, in the tradition of founder William Booth.

  • Spanish and English speaking social workers meet emergency needs and provide life skills training to help break the cycle of dependency.
  • Weekly worship at the Corps draws almost as many to Spanish-language services as to the English-language offering, reflecting the Corps’ readiness to adapt to a changing neighborhood that is now 42 percent Latino.
  • A new street outreach is carrying the Good News to the city’s “night people” – homeless, drug users and prostitutes.
  • The Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club boasts a distinguished alumni cadre of college graduates, professional individuals and even professional athletes, many of whom came from the neighborhood immediately surrounding the facility – the neighborhood where, today, the median household income is less than $20,000.

Through it all, the Army’s mission has been gloriously reflected: The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.