The Salvation Army story begins in 1865, when a young minister named William Booth left the “Methodist New Connexion” to begin a “Christian Mission” in the poverty-ridden London East End. With his wife, Catherine, he reached for the “worst” rather than trying to cultivate the comfortable middle class.
In 1878, the name was changed from “Christian Mission” to “The Salvation Army.” Incorporating paramilitary ranks and uniforms, the movement soon spread throughout the British Isles. In 1880, the first missionary, George Scott Railton, was sent to New York. In addition to preaching the gospel, Booth became involved in providing food and shelter for the hungry and homeless and alcohol rehabilitation for the addicted. Those basic social services developed by Booth have remained an outward, visible expression of the Army’s strong religious principles.
Over the year, new programs that address contemporary needs have been added – including disaster relief services, day care centers, summer camps, holiday assistance, services for senior citizens, hospitals and medical facilities, shelters for battered women and children, family and career counseling, vocational training, correctional service and drug rehabilitation. Under the leadership of General Linda bond, The Salvation Army ministers in 124 countries worldwide.
Salvation Army 101
Even though The Salvation Army is an international organization, the very nature of its work requires considerable national, territorial and local autonomy.
The U.S. Salvation Army is divided into four territories with headquarters in Des Plaines, IL; West Nyack, NY; Atlanta, GA; and, Long Beach, CA. Each territory has its own commander, holding the rank of commissioner. The national commander and national chief secretary serve in coordinating capacities at The Salvation Army National Headquarters in Alexandria, VA. Each territory operates under the broad, general policies established by International Headquarters. National policy is established by the Commissioner’s Conference, composed of four territorial commanders and presided over by the National Commander. This structure permits local leadership to respond to conditions and needs in each community, while maintaining unity on overall policies.
The base service unit of The Salvation Army is the Corps Community Center. In bigger places than Alaska, you can find several centers in one city. Corps Centers provide a variety of local programs from religious services to family counseling, youth activities and senior assistance. Corps community centers comprise a division, with more than 40 divisions in the U.S. Specialized social work is conducted through adult rehabilitation centers within these divisional commands.
Advisory organizations provide valuable assistance and advice. Local community leaders volunteer their time and expertise to help the Army maintain good business and professional relations. Local advisory boards review budgets, help coordinate programs with other agencies and advice on local activities and fundraising campaigns. A National Advisory Board provides guidance for programs and services throughout the United States.
Volunteers from all walks of life support The Salvation Army in nearly all of its activities. Their time and commitment are essential to its success. Millions of volunteers, who function as past of the Army’s ministry enhance the effectiveness of Army program and services.
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
What We Believe
The Salvation Army follows 11 articles of faith that reflect its determination to remain faithful to standards and principles. All members are encouraged to review these principles from time-to-time and to reaffirm before God their dedication to Him and His good works.
1. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
2. We believe that there is only one God, who is infinitely perfect, the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of all things, and who is the only proper object of religious worship.
3. We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead - the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
4. We believe that in the person of Jesus Christ the Divine and human natures are united, so that He is truly and properly God and truly and properly man.
5. We believe that our first parents were created in a state of innocence, but by their disobedience, they lost their purity and happiness, and that in consequence of their fall, all men have become sinners, totally depraved, and as such are justly exposed to the wrath of God.
6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
7. We believe that repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
8. We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
9. We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
10. We believe that it is the privilege of all believers to be wholly sanctified, and that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
11. We believe in the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, in the general judgment at the end of the world, in the eternal happiness of the righteous, and in the endless punishment of the wicked.