William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute.
Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people. His fervor led to disagreement with church leaders in London, who preferred traditional methods. As a result, he withdrew from the church and traveled throughout England, conducting evangelistic meetings. His wife, Catherine, could accurately be called a cofounder of The Salvation Army.
In 1865, William Booth was invited to hold a series of evangelistic meetings in the East End of London. He set up a tent in a Quaker graveyard, and his services became an instant success. This proved to be the end of his wanderings as an independent traveling evangelist. His renown as a religious leader spread throughout London, and he attracted followers who were dedicated to fight for the souls of men and women.
Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth’s first converts to Christianity. To congregations who were desperately poor, he preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead people to Christ and link them to a church for further spiritual guidance.
Many churches, however, did not accept Booth’s followers because of their past. So Booth continued giving his new converts spiritual direction, challenging them to save others like themselves. Soon, they too were preaching and singing in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God.
In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers, but by 1874, the number had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, all serving under the name “The Christian Mission.” Booth assumed the title of general superintendent, with his followers calling him “General.” Known as the “Hallelujah Army,” the converts spread out of the East End of London into neighboring areas and then to other cities.
Booth was reading a printer’s proof of the 1878 annual report when he noticed the statement “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army.” Crossing out the words “volunteer army,” he penned in “Salvation Army.” From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army.
From that point, converts became soldiers of Christ and were known then, as now, as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles, in some cases facing real battles as organized gangs mocked and attacked them. In spite of violence and persecution, some 250,000 people were converted under the ministry of The Salvation Army between 1881 and 1885.
Meanwhile, the Army was gaining a foothold in the United States. Lieutenant Eliza Shirley had left England to join her parents, who had migrated to America earlier in search for work. In 1879, she held the first meeting of The Salvation Army in America, in Philadelphia. The Salvationists were received enthusiastically. Shirley wrote to General Booth, begging for reinforcements. None were available at first. Glowing reports of the work in Philadelphia, however, eventually convinced Booth, in 1880, to send an official group to pioneer the work in America.
On March 10, 1880, Commissioner George Scott Raiton and seven women officers knelt on the dockside at Battery Park in New York City to give thanks for their safe arrival. At their first official street meeting, these pioneers were met with unfriendly actions, as had happened in Great Britain. They were ridiculed, arrested, and attacked. Several officers and soldiers even gave their lives. Three years later, Railton and other Salvationists had expanded their operation into California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. President Grover Cleveland received a delegation of Salvation Army officers in 1886 and gave the organization a warm personal endorsement. This was the first recognition from the White House and would be followed by similar receptions from succeeding presidents.
The Salvation Army movement expanded rapidly to Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, India, South Africa, Iceland, and local neighborhood units. The Salvation Army is active in virtually every corner of the world.
General Booth’s death in 1912 was a great loss to The Salvation Army. However, he had laid a firm foundation’ even his death could not deter the ministry’s onward march. His eldest son, Bramwell Booth, succeeded him.
“Doing the Most Good” is The Salvation Army’s national brand strategy and distinct identifiable message. Moreover, it is a promise the organization makes to its contributors, clients, associates, officers and employees. The Salvation Army pledges to do the most good with contributions of money, time and resources, evidenced in that 83 cents of every dollar donated are directly allocated to services that assist people in need.
The promise of the brand consists of a twofold approach for employees. The Salvation Army makes a promise to do the most good for its employees in their employment: by offering a greater sense of purpose in their work, by training and mentoring employees, and by offering pay and benefits that allow employees and their families to feel secure in their health and their future. These provisions contribute to the success of The Salvation Army’s global mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs.
However, the brand promise also charges employees to do the most good in every aspect of their work, regardless of location or position. The Salvation Army expects its employees to meet the needs of co-workers, customers and clients with the compassion and dignity that are hallmark to the principles of the organization. Employees are also expected to be excellent stewards of the resources entrusted to them and to complete their responsibilities in accordance with the mission of the organization.
The Salvation Army strives to enact its brand promise so that its employees, be they truck drivers, administrative staff or executive directors, may be witnesses of exceptional performance, that they may be proud to say, “I am The Salvation Army; I am doing the most good.”
The Salvation Army’s eleven articles of faith reflect our determination to remain faithful to our standards and principles.
1. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God, and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.
2. 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.
3. We believe that there are three persons in the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, undivided in essence and co-equal in power and glory.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ has by His suffering and death made an atonement for the whole world so that whosoever will may be saved.
7. We believe that repentance toward God, faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and regeneration by the Holy Spirit are necessary to salvation.
8. We believe that we are justified by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and that he that believeth hath the witness in himself.
9. We believe that continuance in a state of salvation depends upon continued obedient faith in Christ.
10. 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.
11. 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.
The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.
Commissioned and ordained as a Salvation Army officer in 1977 as a member of the Companions of Christ Session, General Brian Peddle has served in partnership with his wife, Commissioner Rosalie Peddle, since their marriage in 1978. Initial service in his home territory of Canada and Bermuda included corps, divisional, and training college appointments.
The General’s first international appointment was to Auckland, in the New Zealand, Fiji, and Tonga Territory, as Divisional Commander. He was transferred to territorial headquarters in the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland Territory to serve as Chief Secretary, with the rank of Colonel. A return to the Canada and Bermuda Territory followed in 2011, with promotion to the rank of Commissioner, to take up leadership as Territorial Commander.
Service at International Headquarters initially came on September 1, 2014 as International Secretary for Americas and Caribbean, prior to his appointment as Chief of the Staff on November 1, 2015. It was on May 25, 2018 that Commissioner Brian Peddle was elected as the 21st General of The Salvation Army, to assume office on August 3rd that same year.
Outside of his ministry, the General enjoys kayaking, cycling, hiking, and fishing. The General and Commissioner Peddle have two daughters, Stephanie and Krista, as well as five grandchildren.
The General has a strong sense of calling as a Salvation Army officer, fueled by his conviction that God continues to use The Salvation Army to impact the world. The General and Commissioner Peddle are convinced of their responsibility to preach the gospel, encourage the saints, and serve those in need.
Commissioners David & Sharron Hudson
Commissioners David and Sharron Hudson have been officers in The Salvation Army for 42 years. Commissioner Dave is currently the National Commander. Commissioner Sharron is the National President of Women’s Ministries. National Headquarters is located in Alexandria, Virginia.
Prior to coming to National Headquarters in November 2015, Commissioner David was the Chief Secretary for the Western Territory and Commissioner Sharron was the Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries in the Western Territory, located in Long Beach, California.
They have a wide range of experience as Salvation Army officers, including several territorial and divisional appointments. The Hudsons were corps officers (pastors) for 14 years, including appointments in Oregon, Idaho and Southern California.
David has Business Management degree and a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership. Sharron has a Masters Degree in Christian Leadership.
They have been married for 41 years and have two daughters, Jennifer and Amy, as well as two grandchildren.
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 officer 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.
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.
From its inception, The Salvation Army has relied heavily on volunteers who support its programs. Often referred to as “the army behind The Army,” volunteers play a crucial role The Salvation Army’s ability to provide quality social services for the entire community.
Volunteers are valuable assets in The Salvation Army’s efforts to meet the changing needs of our world. Through the skills and experience they bring to The Army, volunteers make significant contributions to society by positively impacting the lives of those they assist. Salvation Army volunteers change lives, uplift families, and support communities throughout our nation every day.
Thank you for exploring the many opportunities to help those in need and enhance your community as a volunteer within The Salvation Army.