The Salvation Army has established branches in more than 110 countries throughout the world. International headquarters are in London. In the United States, where the movement is strong, headquarters are in Alexandria, Va. The Army's ministers are ranked as officers and its members are called "soldiers"; women have equal position and responsibility with men. High commands may be attained by promotion from lower offices. Each country has its divisions and its local corps, with a commander at the head of all. Officers are prepared in training colleges for their varied responsibilities. In addition to its officers and soldiers, the Army has many more adherents, who regularly worship at its centers, and volunteers, who aid the Salvation Army in meeting community needs.
The Army operates hospitals, community centers, alcoholic and drug rehabilitation programs, emergency and disaster services, social work centers, and recreation facilities. Support of the vast undertakings in all parts of the world depends on voluntary contributions and profits from the sale of publications. The War Cry is the official organ. The beliefs of the Army as set forth in the Handbook of Salvation Army Doctrine (1926) generally agree with those of most Protestant evangelical denominations, but the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper are not considered essential to salvation and are not practiced. Great emphasis is placed on the experience of salvation and purity of life. In conducting the meetings officers are allowed great freedom, as no form of service is required; bands and singing are important features. The Salvation Army distinguished itself by its work with the armed services in both world wars and by its aid to those suffering in disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, all over the world.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.