Saturday, January 23, 2016

The SA in Russia - 1913 Part One of Two

At the time The Salvation Army in Petrograd was ordered to cease work in 1922, they had just arranged the distribution of 27,489 meals to starving children, and 2,399 kilos of foodstuffs to 455 families and 694 single persons. The allegations of the authorities were as follows: "The Salvationists are guilty of serious breach of law. They have day after day given food to the children of Petrograd. Christian denominations are not permitted to bribe people to become religious." Thus ended ten years of a brave fight in Russia.

"Darkest England" Sparks Interest
In 1890. William Booth's famous book. Darkest England and the Way Out, had laid the ground plan of the welfare state in the United Kingdom. All over Europe. including Russia, widespread in-terest was created. M. Paul Nardin. of the Department of Finances in St. Petersburg, had read the book, and other Salvationist literature, which apparently impressed him so that he made inquiries to local authorities throughout the civilized world requesting their opinion of the Salvation Army. Was it genuine and charitable? What effect had it had on the welfare of outcasts

Prince Nicholas Galatzin of Russia in 1894 closely investigated the evangelistic and social work of the Arms in England. having previously seen it in parts of the United States. A devoted Christian. had accompanied General Booth on some of his campaigns in Holland. Galatzin fell in love with Booth's daughter and did his best to persuade her to come to Russia as his wife. Only her love of the Army and loyalty to her father made her write that she would not be coming. In 1908. William T. Stead. the news-paper editor who was actively involved in the Army's social reforms in London. interviewed the Russian Prime Minister and raised the question of whether it could begin work there. The official went so far as to ask for a copy of their statutes, "so that I can examine them before I give my final decision." 

Railton's Dream
In 1904 Commissioner George Scott Rai1ton, one of William Booth's closest coworkers, dreamed of bringing The Salvation Army to Russia. At that time political factors intervened to keep him from going. but in 1908 he managed to conduct crowded meetings in St. Petersburg. Neither he nor Booth, who visited the city in 1909, were invited to meet the Czar. Railton's promotion to Glory in 1913 left the realization of his dream to others. The Founder made his first speech in the country to a private assembly of Russian aristocracy, meeting with promis-ing enthusiasm. Colonel and Mrs. Povlsen, a Danish couple, moved to St. Petersburg to apply for permission, which was turned down after a two-year wait. 

Sensational Topic
Soon after the death of the Founder in 1912. a Swedish officer, Commissioner Karl Larsson, was appointed leader of the Army in Russia, his motto being. "If I don't try, I'll surely not succeed—so I'll try." In 1913 a Hygiene Exhibition in St. Petersburg gave the Army a chance to show its activities as part of the Finnish Pavilion. In a time when hygiene was a sensational, novel topic. the Army's exhibit was a great success: sta-tistical tables, sample beds from a men's shelter and children's home, samples of sewing done at a women's industrial home, and a life-size model of a slum officer. It won first prize! 

In recognition of his sacrificial service, Vladimir Fursenko was admitted to the Order of the Founder by General Eva Burrows. (From an article in the March 5, 1977, War Cry, by Lt. Col. Thorsten Khali. The assistance of Major Jenty Fairbank at the International Heritage Centre is greatly appreciated.) Material was also garnered from Sven Ljungholm’s, The General from Yalta.


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