By Stephanie Muravchik
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2011
Online Publication Date:July 2011
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511862571.010
By the time Shawn testified that “I have begun to learn not only who I am, but also who I am in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Men's Social Service Centers (MSSCs) had more than fifty years of experience interweaving psychosocial activities with spiritual ones. Shawn responded just as center officers hoped he would. They strove to replicate Shawn's twined personal maturation and religious development with all their beneficiaries. How successful were they? Was their evangelical mission compromised as they increased the therapeutic content of their programs over the decades following World War II? No. In fact, during the second half of the twentieth century the centers were increasingly successful evangelically. Therapeutic content did not vitiate this success; it paved the way for it.
The Ministry of the Men's Social Service Department, 1945–1990
Beginning with the Service-to-Man reforms after World War II and continuing today, a growing number of beneficiaries experienced spiritual growth during their treatment at MSSCs. Each year, The Salvation Army tallies as “seekers” the number of people who claimed conversion or sanctification or holiness (levels of spiritual development that build on conversion). The annual combined seeker rate for the hundred or so centers operated between 1940 and 1990 varied from year to year, but it demonstrated an unmistakable upward trajectory. During the 1940s, the percentage of men converted as a proportion of all clients admitted to the centers hovered between 2 and 4 percent, with a slight upward trend.