- Salvation Army
- The Salvation Army is a Christian mission group with an outreach to the poor and to social outcasts. In 1865 William Booth (1828-1912), a former Methodist minister, and his wife, Catherine Booth (1829-90), opened what they called The Christian Mission in London's East Side. William also began a periodical, the East London Evangelist. As the work grew, he developed the idea of a team of workers organized on a military model. Thus was born the Salvation Army, the name formally adopted in 1878. Within two years, the work of the Army had spread across England, and the first centers opened in Scotland, Ireland,Aus-tralia, and the United States.In 1890, William published his program of assistance and rehabilitation as In Darkest England and the Way Out, now a classic example of Christian social service. The Army encounters the public through its active program of social service, but it is actually structured as a church with congregations, Sunday services, and a belief structure, and its evangelical goals of bringing people to Christ run parallel with its social witness. The Army grew out of the Wesleyan Holiness tradition and continues the doctrinal outlook it inherited. Members are invited into a saving faith with Jesus Christ and are encouraged to look for and enjoy the life of entire sanctification. The most distinctive beliefs of the Army concern the sacraments. They do not consider the traditional two Protestant sacraments as necessity to either salvation or spiritual growth and thus do not practice them.The Salvation Army's militarylike uniforms and disciplined life subject it to occasional ridicule. on the other hand its distinctive garb and regimen made it attractive to many and became a means of instant recognition for the general public. Those who join the full-time ministry become cadets; upon finishing their training, they are ordained as captains. Both men and women are accepted into all ranks of the Army. Above captain are the territorial commanders, commissioners, and the general, in charge of the entire corps of officers. At present (2004), the head of the Army is General John Larsson, who resides at the international headquarters in London.Through the 20th century, the Army has expanded globally. As the new century began, it reported work in 190 countries through more than 15,000 centers. over 25,600 men and women are commissioned officers, with another thousand in training. The army is a member of the Christian Holiness Partnership.Further reading:■ Roy Hattersley, Blood and Fire: William and Catherine Booth and Their Salvation Army (New York: Doubleday, 2000)■ Norman H. Murdoch, Origins of the Salvation Army (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994)■ Arch R. Wiggins, History of the Salvation Army (London: Thomas Nelson, 1968)■ Diane Winston, Red-Hot and Righteous: The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.