The Salvation Army is part of the universal Christian Church. However, it has its own governance and rules. The Salvation Army believes in Protestant Christianity and has done extensive work in the area of charity and philanthropy. This international movement is now part of about 124 countries.
Founded in 1865 in the United Kingdom by William Booth and his wife Catherine, the Salvation Army has a large number of people working to meet the goals of this ecumenical organization. People working in the organization have the ability to provide services in 175 languages. Since the establishment is so large it is divided into territories based on geography. It is further divided into divisions to make governance easier. Based on these, there are territorial headquarters and divisional headquarters that manage the affairs of the region. The territories are manned by a territorial commander who is generally an officer with a minimum rank of a colonel in smaller territories. In larger areas the commanding officer is generally a commander.
In 2010, the Salvation Army claimed to have an active membership of 16,938 officers. In addition to this, there were about 9190 retired officers, 1,112,326 soldiers, 189,176 adherents, 39,071 corp. cadets, 378,009 junior soldiers, 104,977 employees and about 4.5 million volunteers.
The flag of the Salvation Army is meant to be a symbol of the war against sin and social evil. The red background is considered to be the blood that was shed by Jesus and the yellow of the start shaped symbol signifies the fire of the Holy Spirit. There is also a blue border that outlines the flag which stands for the purity of God, the Father. The Salvation Army also has a crest which is the official emblem of the organization. The cross signifies the cross of Jesus Christ, the 'S' stands for salvation, the rays on the outside of the circle indicate the fire of the Holy Spirit, the dots indicate the truth of the Gospel and the swords are meant to signify the war.
The official mission statement of the Salvation Army states that it is an international movement that belongs to the evangelical part of the universal Christian church. The message of the Salvation Army is based on the Bible and the ministry is motivated by the love of God. The mission specifically is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to help humans meet their needs in the name of God without any discrimination.
This philanthropic establishment has a few doctrines that it believes and follows. It believes that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament include only the Divine Rule of Christian faith and that these were given by the inspiration of God. "One God who is perfect and the Creator, Preserver and Governor of all things" is another belief that they hold. The three people in the Godhead are recognized as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. It is also believed that divine and human natures combine in the perfect sense in the person of Jesus Christ. Some of the other aspects that are also considered true include the immortality of the soul, resurrection, general judgment at the end of the world, eternal happiness for the righteous and endless punishment for the wicked.
Some of the other doctrines that the Salvation Army is based on include the faith that Jesus atoned for the sins of the whole world by his suffering and death. They also believe that repentance, faith in the Lord and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary aspects towards Salvation.
Some of the programs that the Salvation Army conducts on a regular basis include those against pornography, missing persons, disaster relief, youth camps, human trafficking, elderly services and helping the homeless find places to stay. They also have some programs to create opportunities for music and recreation for people who come under the wings of the Army. Adult rehabilitation has been one of the pioneering programs that the Salvation Army started.
There are also various avenues that the organization has created that allow others to give towards this cause. These include airline miles, planned donations, car donations, clothing, furniture, household goods and volunteer work.
Founded in 1865 in London's East End by a Methodist minister William Booth and his wife Catherine, Salvation Army was earlier called the East London Christian Mission. It was only in 1878 that the name Salvation Army was given to the organization. This occurred post an event that took place where William Booth mentioned that "we are a volunteer army" in the dictation of a letter to his secretary. When his son objected to being a volunteer, the word was changed from "volunteer" to "salvation", and the name stuck since then.
Salvation Army has been modeled on the basis of the military with its own flag, music, colors and all the other formalities associated with a military organization. There is also a uniform of the army. While Booth was known as the "Father of the Salvation Army", Catherine was known as the "Mother of the Salvation Army". As Catherine gained financial support, Booth spoke to the poor to encourage them towards progress. Some of the first converts into the Salvation Army were alcoholics, morphine addicts, prostitutes and others who were considered as undesirables in the society.
The Salvation Army started operation in three other countries in 1880. These were Australia, Ireland and the United States. It was interesting to note that groups of Salvationists were already waiting for the official members who went on to start operations in these countries. France was added a year later and Canada, Guernsey, India, Sweden and Switzerland offices were opened in 1882. From this stage onwards, countries were added to the ones that were covered by the Salvation Army each year. Some of the early ones were New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Netherlands, Jamaica, Norway, Finland and Belgium.
The Red Shield that signifies the Salvation Army today has its origins in the work that the Salvation Army did during war time. This shield indicates the Red Shield Services that included providing refreshments to troops in trenches, first aid, chaplaincy, Christian worship and social clubs too.
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