How We Worship
While many people still think of The Salvation Army as solely a social services organization, we are first and foremost a Christ-centered body of believers dedicated to assist those in need: spiritually, emotionally and physically, offering them a “hand up” and not a “handout.”
Additionally, The Corps seek to meet the spiritual needs of a regular community of worshippers. It is a center of program activity for youth, adults and the elderly. It is a place where all may gather to find the riches of God’s love in material assistance, spiritual growth and/or Christian fellowship. Those in attendance are a cross section of any given community in relation to age, gender, income level, racial or ethnic background.
The Doctrines of the Salvation Army
We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that only they constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
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.
We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and equal in power and glory.
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.
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.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will believe may be saved.
We believe that repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believes has the witness in himself.
We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
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.
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.
Salvation Army Officers
Operations of The Salvation Army are supervised by trained, commissioned officers. They proclaim the gospel and serve as administrators, teachers, social workers, counselors, youth leaders, and musicians.
These men and women have dedicated their lives, skills, and service completely to God. Lay members who subscribe to the doctrines of The Salvation Army are called soldiers. Along with officers, they are known as Salvationists.
Candidates for Officership undergo an intensive two-year course in residence at Salvation Army colleges in Chicago; Suffern, New York; Atlanta; and Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The curriculum combines theory and field practice, including Salvation Army doctrine, sociology and social work, psychology, Salvation Army regulations, homiletics, public speaking, Bible studies, church history, composition, community relations, business administration, accounting, and vocal and instrumental music.
After two successful years of training, cadets are commissioned as lieutenants, ordained as ministers, and assigned to active duty while continuing their education. Lieutenants are required to devote five years to additional studies.
Numerous advanced training courses are available for officers wishing to specialize in a particular discipline. Institutes, seminars, and conferences have been established to ensure that officers are informed of new and innovative programs and developments.
Promotion is based on length of service, character, efficiency, capacity for increased responsibility, and devotion to duty. The ranks are lieutenant, captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel and commissioner. The international leader holds the rank of general and is selected by a high council of active-duty commissioner and territorial commanders.
Salvation Army officers must devote full time to Army work. An officer who marries must marry another Salvation Army officer or leave his or her office status. Married captains and majors will individually carry the rank applicable to their own length of service, not that of their spouse. In case of married officers, the conferred ranks of lieutenant colonel, colonel and commissioner will be held jointly. As ordained ministers of the gospel, they are authorized to perform marriage ceremonies, funeral services, and infant dedications. They also provide counseling and consolation to the bereaved.
The Salvation Army provides officers’ living quarters, furnishings, and official transportation. Officers qualify for retirement once they are eligible to receive full Social Security benefits.
Salvation Army Soldiers
The soldiers of The Salvation Army (wearing blue epaulets), the committed laity, are local citizens in communities throughout the U.S. who give allegiance to the doctrines and disciplines of the Army. There are approximately 450,000 soldiers in the United States.
These soldiers may take on volunteer responsibilities in the congregation or help in the Army’s social service outreach. Many soldiers give valuable service in directing and leading youth groups in character-building activities. Many take part in the Army’s musical programs and teach young people to sing and play.
As a valuable means of service to the community, soldiers visit the sick and lonely in hospitals, nursing homes, and correctional institutions. Social service programs are enhanced by the commitment of soldiers who often give their time in the Army’s basic ministries of shelter and food provision.
Soldiers abstain from the use of alcoholic beverages, drugs, and tobacco. Trained and qualified soldiers are appointed as “local officers.” This corresponds to a non-commissioned officer in the armed forces. Other members of the congregation are adherents who participate in church activities but have not signed on as soldiers. Adherents may take on some lay responsibilities, such as teaching Sunday School classes.