Salvation Army Shield The Salvation Army

A Match Made in Heaven?

04 July 2015

In 1891, in a deprived area of east London, The Salvation Army opened a match factory. It was a direct response to the ‘sweated labour’ conditions experienced by employees of other match-making companies: poor pay, excessive working hours and exposure to toxic chemicals – particularly white phosphorus, which caused the debilitating and often deadly condition known as ‘phossy jaw’. The Army’s quest for justice had a dramatic effect – enhancing the quality of life for employees not just in its own factory but also applying pressure to other companies to make similar improvements. The British Parliament subsequently passed legislation prohibiting the use of white phosphorus.

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On Friday 3 July, Salvationists gathered at the historic factory site – now part of the Bryant & May Match Factory complex – for the launch of Marching Towards Justice, an initiative devised by local corps officers Lieutenants John and Naomi Clifton with Majors Kerry and Nick Coke, in association with the Centre for Theology and Community. A ‘call for a return to our justice-seeking roots’, the report explores four ways in which Salvation Army corps can position the fight for social justice as an integral part of ministry.

The event, attended by General Shaw Clifton (Rtd) and UKI Territorial Commander Commissioner Clive Adams, included focused discussion among the international participants about current social concerns, as well as cogent testimony from a ‘working poor’ corps member-turned-community campaigner.

The ‘Marching Towards Justice’ report can be downloaded from


This article was included in issue five of Boundless Today. Click to read all issues of Boundless Today.

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Ephesians 3:8 - Preach to the nations the BOUNDLESS riches of Christ