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The Salvation Army first had contact with the people of Alice Springs in the 1930s, when the town was a small, dusty, isolated place. Salvationists from Quorn, nearly one thousand miles to the south, would make an annual visit to Alice springs, travelling for days on end over the rough, dusty, unmade roads. Comments were even made that any work by the visiting Salvationists was hardly worth the effort!
During World War II, the population of Alice Springs increased dramatically as the Defence Forces set up camp as part of their strategy to protect the Top End of Australia. The Red Shield Ministries set up a base in Alice Springs and operated up and down the track as far as the railhead in Birdum and across to Mt Isa.
The annual visits of the Quorn Salvationists continued in the postwar years. Gradually more and more interest was taken in the Salvation Army setting up a permanent work in Alice Springs. Further plans were made during visits to Alice Springs by the South Australian Commander in 1963 and 1965.
Captain Hilton Morris arrived in Alice Springs in May 1965 and arranged the purchase of a property at 58 Giles that became the first Quarters. Captain Morris returned to Alice Springs with his wife, Wilga, in July 1965; appointed to take command of the new Alice Springs Corps.
The first Open Air Meeting was held in the Gap Area on July 11th. The Alice Springs Corps was officially opened by the Chief Secretary Colonel Goddard on July 18th in the United Church. The Salvation Army worked very closely with the United Church during its early days in Alice Springs. The first two Junior Soldiers were enrolled later that year. The Officers found themselves working very hard to meet people's social needs but there was little interest by the people of Alice Springs in spiritual things, in these early days. This gradually changed and definite spiritual growth was evident in the following few years.
A property at 88 Hartley St was purchased on June 19th 1967. This became the officers' quarters and remained so for the following thirty years. The building of the Red Shield House men's hostel on the block next door in Stuart Terrace began in June 1970. The first occupants stayed there later the same year. Plans began slowly for a hall to be built adjacent to the hostel. Up until this time, the meetings had been held in various places including a hall in Bath St.
January 1972 saw Captain and Mrs Morris farewelled to Darwin and Captain and Mrs Venables took over command of the Salvation Army's work in Alice Springs. Construction began on the hall in February 1972. The new hall was officially opened on May 13th 1972. The Venables were farewelled in January 1974 and Captain and Mrs Poke arrived in Alice Springs to continue the work.
Following cyclone Tracy's devastation of Darwin on Christmas Day 1974, volunteers from the Alice Springs Corps travelled to Darwin to assist with the disaster relief efforts. Other volunteers remained in Alice Springs and assisted evacuees as they passed through the town.
Captain and Mrs Dennis Hills took command of the Alice Springs corps in January 1977. Guards and Sunbeams were commenced in Alice Springs in 1978. Later that year, Lieutenant and Mrs Alan Steven took over command of the corps. Early in 1979 a manager was appointed for the Red Shield House men's hostel. Up until this time the corps officer had been responsible for managing the corps as well as the hostel. October 1980 saw the farewell of the Steven family. Captain and Mrs Fernee arrived a few weeks later to take command of the Alice Springs corps.
Over the next couple of years some much needed renovations on the hall were undertaken. The Fernee family was farewelled in January 1984 and Captain and Mrs Tyson were welcomed to Alice Springs
The first Northern Territory congress was held in Darwin in August 1985, conducted by the Territorial Commander, Commissioner Eva Burrows. A bus load of Alice Springs Salvationists travelled to Darwin to take part in the Congress.
Captain and Mrs Pratt arrived in Alice Springs in January 1986 to take command of the Alice Springs Corps. In 1987 a further upgrade of the hall occurred. The Hartley St quarters also received much needed remodelling. In 1988 a building for the new hostel was purchased in Goyder St. The old hostel building attached to the hall in Stuart Terrace was renovated and then housed the Corps Office, the Welfare Office and the Thrift Shop.
The second Northern Territory Congress was held in Darwin in 1990. A bus load of thirty-six comrades from Alice Springs took part in a Top End safari that incorporated the Congress meetings. During 1990, the Alice Springs Corps also celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary lead by Major and Mrs Morris who had pioneered the work in Central Australia.
Captain and Mrs Pratt were farewelled in January 1991. Captain and Mrs Watson took over command of the Alice Springs Corps. In 1992, the Thrift Shop moved form the hall into premises at 99 Todd St. Another move for the Thrift Shop occurred in 1994 to premises at 64 Hartley St. During 1994 further alterations to the hall took place.
Captain and Mrs Crowden were welcomed in January 1995. The third Northern Territory Congress took place during 1995 and a number of Alice Springs comrades journeyed to Darwin to participate. During 1995 the ministry among the Aboriginal people became more evident. A feasibility study was conducted to address the issues of Aboriginal ministry. This lead to the adoption of a new purpose statement for the corps, incorporating all aspects of ministry.
A new quarters was purchased in Terry Court in 1997. The old quarters at 88 Hartley St then became the Thrift Shop and Welfare Office.
December 1997 and January 1998 brought a lot of changes for the corps, as many comrades were farewelled including the Crowden family. Captains Derek and Melinda Schmidtke took command of the corps in January 1998. The corps adopted its first planned giving program in March 1998 with pledges far beyond expectation.
In 2000, the Aboriginal Ministry has expanded with the employment of an Aboriginal Liason Worker. A Drop-In-Centre was developed for Aboriginal Painting and Craft.
The township of Alice Springs has changed tremendously over these years. The Salvation Army Corps has adjusted well to these changes and has responded to the needs of the people of Alice Springs. The comrades of the Alice Springs Corps endeavour to be faithful to God in this isolated but remarkably beautiful part of Australia. As dry as the climate may be, we experience the showers of God's blessing!