The Salvation Army began in 1865 when William Booth left the Methodist ministry to begin a mission in the poverty-stricken slums of London. Initially called “The Christian Mission,” Booth’s approach abandoned conventional church concepts, instead taking the message of hope and salvation to the destitute people who needed it the most. Many of Booth’s first converts to Christianity were rejected by traditional churches due to their pasts, but Booth still continued to support them spiritually and to challenge them to save others just as they had saved themselves.
Early in its history, The Salvation Army was set up with a quasi-military structure patterned after the ranks of the British Armed Forces. This structure has contributed to a reputation for discipline and mobility that serves the organization well. The Salvation Army is comprised of several sub-groups, each equally important and instrumental in accomplishing the mission of spreading the Gospel and serving humanity.
The term “army” signifies that the organization is a fighting force, constantly at war with the powers of evil. And our battles are effectively waged through an integrated ministry that gives attention to body, mind and spirit. It is a total ministry for the total person.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE SALVATION ARMY
Commissioned from one of four Colleges for Officer’s Training in the United States, officers are full-time personnel with responsibility for leadership of both the spiritual and social services work of The Salvation Army. Their ranks descend from General (the international leader stationed at International Headquarters in London) down to Captain (the rank assigned upon commissioning). The commanding officers in Raleigh are Majors Pete and Cathy Costas.
Soldiers are members who maintain their congregational church home at The Salvation Army and have signed a statement of belief, pledging to live up to a high code of moral conduct. They usually are employed outside of The Salvation Army in all manners of vocations and careers.
The Worldwide Salvation Army
International Headquarters, in London, England, is the international administrative center of The Salvation Army. From International Headquarters, the General, the Army’s international leader, provides spiritual and administrative guidance to Salvation Army units around the world.
The Salvation Army in the United States
The Salvation Army in the United States is divided into four territories: Eastern, Southern, Central and Western. The National Commander and the National Chief Secretary serve in coordinating capacities. Each Territorial Commander operates under the general policies laid down by International Headquarters in London. While the local leadership adjusts to meet conditions in each community, all officers are subject to the same broad, overall policies.
The USA Southern Territory
The administrative center of the Southern Territory is in Atlanta, Georgia. The USA Southern Territory comprises 15 southern states and is divided into nine divisions. The Territorial Commander is the administrative and spiritual leader of the territory.
- Divisions: Territories are further divided into divisions, with a Divisional Commander, the division’s spiritual and administrative leader, leading a team of administrative officers in each division. Each division encompasses a number of corps and Salvation Army centers.
- Corps: This is the local Salvation Army center of operations seen in most towns and cities across the country. Each week a variety of people will meet here for worship, musical activities, services, etc. All are welcome and invited to attend meetings.