Life in the Army Today
Although in the United States The Salvation Army is most commonly associated with its network of social services, its original and enduring mission is evangelical—leading people to God and salvation.
Major Philip D. Needham, principal of the School for Officers’ Training in Atlanta, believes the Army’s basic mission is essentially the same today as it was in the early days. “I think the Army’s mission is to reach people with the Gospel of Christ expressed in word and in action.” The Salvation Army attempts to reach those people who are “most cut off from the ministry of the church,” he explains, adding that the Army has always had a special calling to the poor and still does.
Officers, Soldiers, Adherents
Numbering approximately three million worldwide, The Salvation Army carries out its ministry in about 90 countries under its own denominational government. Salvation Army officers are ordained as ministers by their territorial commander after completing a two-year officers’ training program. There are four training schools in the United States, located in Atlanta, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
The committed laity, called soldiers, sign the Articles of War, promising to abide by the Army’s doctrines and disciplines. They may take on volunteer responsibilities within the social service outreach or the congregation [called a corps] such as directing youth groups or participating in musical activities.
Other members of the congregation are adherents who participate in the church but have not signed the Articles of War. Adherents may take on some lay responsibilities, such as teaching Sunday school classes.
Today’s Salvation Army offers many of the ministries that other Protestant congregations provide. Some corps ...