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People of the Army

The Salvation Army's membership consists of adherents (regularly attending non-members), soldiers (members), and officers (ministers/pastors).

Adherents are persons who consider The Salvation Army their place of worship. Soldiers are required to sign a declaration of faith and practice known as Articles of War and must give volunteer service to the Army.

Soldiers who have served for more than six months may apply to the School for Officer's Training and, if accepted, enroll as cadets.

Upon graduation from the school, cadets become fully ordained ministers, commissioned officers, and are appointed to a place of service.


What should I do if I am interested in Christian service as a Salvation Army Officer?
Call or write to:
Candidates' Department
The Salvation Army Territorial Headquarters
1424 Northeast Expressway
Atlanta, GA 30329
Phone: 404-728-1300 ext. 494 FAX: 404-728-6751

Email Or, go to the Southern Territory's Candidate's Web Page.


Why does The Salvation Army use military structure and uniforms?

The Salvation Army's military style is rooted in the militaristic spirit prevalent in the mid-1800s, when William and Catherine Booth founded the organization. This organizational style has proven effective in making the Army a highly disciplined and mobile organization, able to respond quickly and efficiently to human need whenever and wherever it arises.

The uniform also finds its roots in the culture of its founding and continues to serve as a witness to the Salvationist's commitment to serving God and man. Today, The Salvation Army's uniform is recognized as a symbol of commitment and a sign of availability and accessibility in times of need or crisis. Salvation Army officers always wear the uniform when they are on duty in the corps, the office or the community. 

The Command Hierarchy


The General

The General, based at International Headquarters in London, is the international leader of The Salvation Army and travels widely wherever the Army is active. He or she is elected by the High Council (a group of senior Salvation Army officers) for a term of five years or until the 68th birthday is reached, when he or she must retire. The Advisory Council to the General assists The General in policy making.



Salvation Army officers are ordained ministers serving in The Salvation Army in a professional capacity and on a full-time basis. They are members of The Salvation Army who commit their lives to doing God's will and serving others.

Officers may be single or married. If married, both husband and wife must undertake the same training, and both are ordained and commissioned upon completion of training. Single officers wishing to marry must marry within the ranks or resign their officership. Officers resigning their officership to marry may remain in The Salvation Army as soldiers and may resume their officership if the non-officer spouse elects to undertake officer training.

Officers come from all walks of life - from varying backgrounds and occupations - to complete a two year residential course at a Salvation Army Training College. Concurrent with ordination they are commissioned to the rank of captain. After fifteen years of satisfactory service they are promoted to the rank of Major. Higher ranks are at the direction of the General.

The majority of officers are responsible for a Salvation Army corps community center (church), with pastoral and community service responsibilities. Officers may also serve in other Salvation Army facilities or in an administrative capacity at headquarters.

All officers receive a small standard allowance according to rank, with an added stipend calculated on the number of dependents. The amount of allowance does not vary for different appointments or levels of administrative responsibility. Quarters and transportation are provided and remain the property of The Salvation Army.


Auxiliary/Captains are persons who undertake Salvation Army officership after they reach the maximum age for acceptance into the college for officer training. After five years, an auxiliary/captain may receive a full commission. An auxiliary /captain has the same responsibilities and receives the same allowance as a regular officer.



Sergeants are Salvationists (active lay members in good standing for at least two years) who elect to work full-time for The Salvation Army in a pastoral or administrative capacity. Sergeants are employees and are not ordained or commissioned, but they may be appointed to a corps community center, where they will perform all pastoral duties except those reserved to ordained clergy.



Lay members of The Salvation Army are called soldiers. As do lay members of other churches, Salvation Army soldiers have secular professions and are typical members of the community. Upon enrollment, soldiers sign the Articles of War, which state the Army's beliefs, and they accept certain moral standards, e.g., Salvation Army soldiers do not smoke or drink alcohol. Soldiers are expected, but not required, to wear the uniform as a witness to their faith.

Children may be enrolled as Junior Soldiers. Junior Soldiers sign a covenant in which they make a confession of faith and agree to obey God, pray and read the Bible. While adults make a commitment to The Salvation Army when they become soldiers, the Junior Soldier covenant does not include this provision.

Local Officers

Salvationists who accept particular lay leadership responsibilities in a corps are called local officers; their positions are similar to elders in other churches. Local officers may undertake such responsibilities as corps treasurer, Sunday school teacher, youth leader and other leadership and service positions. Local officers are required to wear the uniform when carrying out the responsibilities of their position. As with volunteer lay leaders in other organizations, they receive no pay for these activities.



Adherents choose to make The Salvation Army their spiritual home and place of worship, but who do not wish to make the commitments of Salvation Army soldiership. While they may participate in all corps community activities, they may not assume official leadership positions. Adherents do not wear the uniform.


The Salvation Army requires skilled and dedicated personnel to carry on its many-faceted programs.

Employees are hired to perform clerical work in Salvation Army offices, to work in Salvation Army social service programs as professional case workers, supervise and work in Salvation Army youth programs and boys and girls clubs, and help in specialized fields such as accounting, development, and property.


The Salvation Army's work throughout the United States is greatly enhanced by volunteers.

From ringing the bell at Salvation Army kettles during the Christmas season to working with young people in character-building activities, Salvation Army volunteers run the gamut of service in every Army program. There are approximately 3.5 million volunteers registered with The Salvation Army in the U.S.

Citizens of every community, from every walk of life, greatly extend the scope of The Salvation Army's service. In short, volunteers' assistance enables The Salvation Army to meet far more needs than it could without their help.

A volunteer is a person who enters into Salvation Army service of his or her own will and does not receive any material compensation for services rendered. Volunteers provide direct service to clients and are able to focus on one task and give undivided attention to it.

Volunteers bring diversity in terms of age, race, social background, and approach. They increase the efficiency of The Salvation Army by providing "extra hands" to perform God's work.


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