Church Army Through The Ages

Travel back in time with us to see the story of Church Army unfold from the moment Wilson Carlile gave his life to the Lord right through to the present day. Click the arrows at the bottom of this page to navigate.


Wilson Carlile’s Conversion

Wilson was a successful businessman, importing cloth from Europe. Until 1873 when his business failed and he lost nearly all of his personal wealth. This marked a turning point in Wilson Carlile’s life, he gave his life to Jesus and put all his efforts into making Jesus known.


The dawn of something special…

Seeing that the church had become a place that excluded the working class, the poor and marginalised members of society, Wilson Carlile decided to take church outside the church walls
and began preaching in the open-air so that everyone would have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. It was in doing this that he saw the poverty and desperate need for evangelism to address the practical needs of people as well as preaching the truth of the Gospel. More people joined and this began a movement which would later be known as Church Army.


The Early Days

  • First Church Army campaign in Belfast Ireland
  • Evangelism Training College founded and training began in Oxford


Social Work Begins

Regarding it as his vocation to take the Gospel to the people he regarded as the “most lost”, Wilson Carlile sent CA officers to work in parishes where there was significant levels of poverty.


Social Action

First men’s home set up in Marylebone for homeless men in London to live and work and receive Bible teaching.


The World Wars

Church Army was active during both the First and Second World Wars working both at home and overseas providing much needed recreation huts for the armed-forces, operating ambulances, mobile canteens and kitchen cars. We also opened training centres for men who had been left disabled from fighting in WWI.


World War I

When war broke out in 1914, Church Army quickly mobilised themselves to become an integral part of the war effort. Both on the home front and overseas CA set up hospitals, recreation huts, tents and other centres.


World War II

When war was once again announced in September 1939, Church Army sprang into action once more to support the soldiers on whom the future of the world depended. CA set up mobile canteens and vans, and made
provisions for prayer, Bible teaching and worship for Christian soldiers, and also opportunities to share the Good News of Salvation through Jesus with those who did not believe.


A New Generation…

In the new age that dawned many Evangelists were employed to work with children and young people – the future generation. Youth centres were built and relationships developed with Scouting and Guiding. Church Army continued providing hostels for homeless men and women and care homes for the elderly.


Men and women admitted to Office of Evangelist within the Church of England.


Headquarters at Marylebone Road opened by Her Majesty the Queen.


Wilson Carlile Training College opened in Blackheath


Centenary Anniversary celebration at Westminster Abbey attended by Her Majesty the Queen

1990s to Present Day

At the turn of the century the need to support those facing unemployment became a strong focus such as through residential care in homes and marquees. This era also saw pioneer tent missions, beach missions, the Church Army Printing Press and the making of films for evangelism.


New Training college opened in Sheffield by Princess Margaret and the Archbishop of York.


Archbishop Desmond Tutu becomes the President of Church Army.


Opening of the Wilson Carlile Centre by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex



Today, we continue to build on the foundations laid by Wilson Carlile through our vision for everyone everywhere to encounter God’s love, and be empowered to transform their communities through faith shared in words and action.

2022 & Beyond

Centres of Mission

We partner with dioceses across the UK and Ireland, launching missional hot-spots that work to transform areas by addressing some of the most extreme needs where communities are impacted by poverty, unemployment, homelessness, isolation and many other issues in between. These Centres of Mission not only tackle the social issues head on, but they do so by bringing the light, hope and transforming power of the Gospel with them.

2022 & Beyond

The Training Continues

We continue to train gifted evangelists who are called
by God to make Evangelism their vocation. Training
has always been an integral part of Church Army and
each year we see more of the new younger generation
stepping into their evangelistic calling taking the
Gospel to wherever God calls them to.

Church Army community