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Salvation Army holds outdoor service where group began

It’s unclear whether any souls were saved, but “Onward Christian Soldiers” rang out from brass instruments as the Salvation Army held an outdoor service Friday in downtown Spokane.

A handful of spectators braved Good Friday cold and rain on the corner of Riverside Avenue and Howard Street, the very spot where the evangelical Christian group began its Spokane mission in August 1891.

Back then, a cornet player in a red shirt and three ladies playing concertina and tambourines drew a crowd for the first Salvation Army outdoor service.

On Friday, local congregants were joined by seven cadets on spring break from the Salvation Army Officer Training College in Palos Verdes, Calif., who performed Christian hymns and skits.

“Instead of going to Florida, they came to Spokane,” said Capt. Kyle Smith, head of Salvation Army Spokane.

Smith joined the band on tuba as lunchtime passers-by cast glances at the little group of musicians, which included a Christian rapper from the college.

Among those stopping to watch and listen was Robert Garritty, 44, who said he and his two children were the first homeless people admitted to the new Salvation Army Family Shelter when it opened its doors in October 2007.

After spending nearly two years in transitional housing, Garritty said he and his family are back on their feet thanks to the Salvation Army.

“They provide more than a roof,” Garritty said. “They give you direction so that you learn you don’t have to be homeless anymore.”

The cadets will perform again during Easter Sunday services at 9 and 11 a.m. at the Salvation Army Chapel, 222 E. Indiana Ave.

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