In 1865, William Booth spent his days preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry and the destitute people of London, England. In his attempt to reach these people, Booth challenged the accepted concept of church and took his preaching to the streets. Booth traveled throughout England conducting evangelistic meetings. Booth’s services were an instant success. He quickly became well known as a religious leader throughout London and attracted followers who were dedicated to fighting for the souls of men and women.
In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers, but by 1874, Booth’s followers had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists. At this time, the group was serving under the name “The Christian Mission.” The group officially adopted the title of “The Salvation Army” in August of 1878.
The ministry migrated to America in 1880, and was in full bloom by 1885, when The Salvation Army’s first meeting took place in Philadelphia. After receiving a warm welcome, The Salvation Army expanded its operation throughout the United States. Today, there are more than 9,000 Salvation Army centers and local neighborhood units in the United States.
The work of the Army in what is now the Heartland Division also began in the mid 1880's, when several locations began their work, including Peoria in 1886. Peoria is not only home to a Corps Community Center, but also serves as the Divisional Headquarters.