Officer (The Salvation Army)
An officer in The Salvation Army is a Salvationist who is an ordained minister of the Christian faith, but who fulfills many other roles not usually filled by clergy of other denominations. They do so having been trained, ordained and commissioned to serve and lead and given a title which uses the terms of typical military rank.
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George Scott Railton
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Candidacy and training
When applying to become a Salvation Army officer, strict acceptance guidelines must be adhered to before training can commence. Each Salvation Army territory will have similar conditions that applicants must fulfill prior to entry and include the following, they must:
- Believe they are called by God to full-time ministry, specifically officership.
- Be active soldiers in their local Salvation Army corps.
- Receive a recommendation from the commanding officer of that corps.
- Be endorsed by the Salvation Army Divisional Candidates' Board.
- Receive satisfactory references from their families, friends, and peers.
- Attend an assessment conference weekend which includes a number of in-depth interviews with various assessors.
- Be accepted for training by the Territorial Candidates' Board, and territorial commander.
While attending a college for officer training, the training participants are referred to as "cadets". The length of training is normally twenty-two months, but a special dispensation may allow cadets to be commissioned after a shorter period, based on prior experience or training. Once this training is complete, the cadets are commissioned.
Officer training centres are located around the world.
United States of America
- College for Officer Training (Chicago, IL)
- College for Officer Training (Suffern, NY)
- Evangeline Booth College (Atlanta, GA)
- College For Officer Training At Crestmont (Rancho Palos Verdes, CA)
Commissioning and posting
Commissioning sees the cadets promoted to the rank of lieutenant and formalizes the cadets' first posting (commonly referred to as "marching orders"). These orders can send the new lieutenants anywhere in the territory, and sometimes even see them posted to other territories that could involve overseas service.
Officers have the opportunity to serve within the Salvation Army in many different capacities, and may be posted at a corps, divisional or territorial headquarters, the training college, supplies & purchasing, a recovery and rehabilitation centre, as a chaplain in courts, prisons and hospitals, a street level outreach centre, a new corps (known as an "outpost" or "plant"), or any number of other need specific ministries.
In years past, officers were given "farewell orders" every two to five years when they were reassigned to different posts. Appointments of at least five years are now commonplace.
The rank structure and uniform
Officers hold ranks throughout their service and into retirement, and their rank is reflected in their uniform. The uniform of an officer is much like that of a soldier and, like a soldier's, is defined by the region in which the person is serving. The consistent difference between the two uniforms is that the officer's uniform has red epaulettes, while a soldier's epaulettes are black or blue. Officers' epaulettes feature the Salvation "S" in silver, as well as another insignia to designate rank. These insignias may be sewn into the epaulette, or be separate metal pins attached to the epaulettes.
|Epaulet||Rank||Date adopted||Current status||Description||Insignia / epaulettes|
|General||1878||Active||The worldwide leader of The Salvation Army, elected by the most senior Salvation Army officers in the world||Crest with laurel leaves above gold bar on burgundy epaulet|
|Chief of the Staff||1878||Active||The second-in-command to the general appointed by the general||Crest with laurel leaves above silver bar on burgundy epaulet|
|Commissioner||1880||Active||The Chief of the Staff of The Salvation Army, the leader of a territory, or international secretaries are also usually given the rank||Crest with laurel leaves above bar with another bar above the "S", upon burgundy epaulet|
|Brigadier||1880||Discontinued||Formally used to signify 35 years of service. Discontinued in the 1970s, although still used by anyone who earned the rank before its termination.||Two stars and a Crest upon a red epaulet|
|Colonel||1880||Active||Reserved for territorial and international leaders||Crest above bar with another bar above the "S" upon a red epaulet|
|Lieutenant-colonel||Active||Appointed to Salvation Army officers on merit by the General||Crest above bar upon red epaulets|
|Major||1879||Active||After 15 years of exemplary service, the officer is eligible to be promoted to the rank of major||Crest upon red epaulet|
|Captain||1877||Active||After five years of exemplary service, the officer is eligible to be promoted to the rank of captain||Two stars upon red epaulet|
|Auxiliary Captain||Active||Serve as officers but are beyond the minimum age for training. Auxiliary Captains never hold the ranks of Lieutenant and Cadet, and they may be promoted to Captain after five years. This rank is used in certain territories only, most notably the Southern Territory of the USA.||Blank red epaulet|
|Following successful term at college for officer training, the cadet is commissioned with the rank of lieutenant||One star upon red epaulet|
|Cadet-Lieutenant||Active||This rank is rare; it is given to a cadet who is sent into the field as an officer before graduating training.||Two red bars (upon blue epaulet / UK - on black epaulettes)|
|2nd Year Cadet||1880||Active||A Salvation Army soldier who is undertaking training to become an officer at a Salvation Army college for officer training||Two (second year) red bars (upon blue epaulet / UK - upon black epaulet)|
|1st Year Cadet||1880||Active||A Salvation Army soldier who is undertaking training to become an officer at a Salvation Army college for officer training||One red bar (upon blue epaulet / UK - upon black epaulet)|
|Varies||Envoy/Auxiliary-Lieutenant||Active||A non-commissioned officer who works for the Salvation Army in a ministry position||Varies by territory|
|Sergeant||Active||A non-commissioned officer who works for the Salvation Army in a ministry position in the USA Southern territory||Three white chevrons upon a blue epaulet|
|Candidate||Active||A person undergoing assessment for Salvation Army officership or envoyship||Candidate's pin worn on the left side of the tunic above the heart|
|Epaulet||Rank||Description||Insignia / epaulettes|
|Corps Sergeant Major||The lead local officer position, somewhat similar to a chief deacon or elder||Blue Epaulette|
|Young People Sergeant Major||Young People’s Sergeant Major – responsible for the youth programs of the corps||Blue Epaulette|
|Bandmaster||In charge of the corps band||Blue epaulette with two white bars|
|Songster Leader||In charge of the corps songsters||Blue epaulette with two yellow bars (varies by territory)|
Amendments to envoy and lieutenant rank
After a lengthy discussion with other Salvation Army leaders, General Shaw Clifton announced in November 2007 that the rank of lieutenant would be reinstated on March 1, 2008. All cadets are now commissioned as lieutenants for a period of five years. The rank of cadet-lieutenant was discontinued on the same date, but was reinstated in the USA Southern territory in June 2014.
All officers serving as lieutenants in the UK Territory now receive the rank of territorial envoy (as opposed to divisional envoy). Territorial envoys are soldiers who wish to work as non-commissioned officers for a limited time, usually three years. This replaced the rank of envoy and auxiliary-captain. Other territories have made other ranks to reflect this status such as feldsergeant in Germany; sergeant-major' in the Ukraine; envoy in Russia and corpsenvoy in the Netherlands. In US Central they are simply envoys and in the US Southern territory they are sergeants.
The national commander is the chairperson of the board of all Salvation Army corporations in the United States of America; the territorial commander is the president and chief executive officer and the territorial chief secretary is the vice president of all Salvation Army corporations in each territory. The board of trustees/directors of each corporation has the responsibility of management.— Manual of Advisory Organizations and Articles of Organization (2015 revision)
- Rank explanations (incomplete)
- Glossary of Terms
- Manual of Advisory Organizations and Articles of Organization (PDF). The Salvation Army Advisory Board. 2015. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-12-17.