The Salvation Army is an integral part of the Christian Church, although distinctive in government and practice. The Army’s doctrine follows the mainstream of Christian belief and its articles of faith emphasise God’s saving purposes. Its objects are ‘the advancement of the Christian religion… of education, the relief of poverty, and other charitable objects beneficial to society or the community of mankind as a whole.’*
The movement, founded in 1865 by William Booth, has spread from London, England, to many parts of the world.
The rapid deployment of the first Salvationists was aided by the adoption of a quasi-military command structure in 1878 when the title, ‘The Salvation Army’, was brought into use. A similarly practical organisation today enables resources to be equally flexible. Responding to a recurrent theme in Christianity which sees the Church engaged in spiritual warfare, the Army has used to advantage certain soldierly features such as uniforms, flags and ranks to identify, inspire and regulate its endeavours.
Evangelistic and social enterprises are maintained, under the authority of the General, by full-time officers and employees, as well as soldiers who give service in their free time. The Army also benefits from the support of many adherents and friends, including those who serve on advisory boards.
Leadership in the Army is provided by commissioned officers who are recognised ministers of religion.
The Salvation Army is currently led by General André Cox, who was elected as the 20th General on 3 August 2013.