The first thing to point out is that you do not have to wear a uniform to come to our services. We are an open Church and welcome anyone at our Services. Lots of people do wear a uniform, and that is their choice, but please do not be put off by this.
Some people wear uniforms and some don’t, some people are called soldiers, some adherents, some junior soldiers and some friends – it can be a little confusing at first. However, if you are interested in joining The Salvation Army, or perhaps just finding out a little bit about it first, hopefully this will help.
Membership of The Salvation Army is firstly split into two categories – children and adults. To become a member of The Salvation Army as a child, you become what is called a Junior Soldier. To become a member as an adult you can become either an Adherent or a Senior Soldier.
Young people between the ages of 7 and 18 can be Junior Soldiers. Before becoming a Junior Soldier, a young person must believe Jesus is their Saviour and friend, and agree with the principals of The Salvation Army (as their understanding will allow). When a young person becomes a Junior Soldier they sign a promise, which they renew each year. Junior Soldier’s have to keep certain rules, including keeping their promise, and such things as abstaining from all intoxicating drink and drugs.
The Junior Soldier’s Promise:
Having asked God for forgiveness,
I will be his loving and obedient child.
Because Jesus is my Saviour from sin,
I will trust him to keep me good,
and will try to help others to follow him.
I promise to pray, to read my bible
and, by His help, lead a life that is clean in thought, word and deed.
Anyone from the age of 14 onwards can become an adherent. An adherent is someone who considers The Salvation Army to be their place of worship, but who does not wish to become a Soldier and make the commitments a Soldier would be expected to make. The individual may choose whether or not to have be made an adherent publicly, or in private. They do not have to, for example, abstain from alcohol, but they are not entitled to wear uniform, and because they do not have to affirm/declare their faith, adherents generally do not undertake spiritual leadership roles, or ministry in the corps that requires them to have a testimony. Of course, many adherents do have a firm faith and testimony.
Those from the age of 14 can become a Senior Soldier. Before doing so, they must complete their recruits classes to ensure that they know about the commitment they will be undertaking, and so that the Commanding Officer can be sure they are ready. Every Senior Soldier signs the ‘Articles of War’ (The Soldier’s Covenant), to ensure that the Soldier is aware of what is expected of them, which state that the Soldier will ‘live by the truths of the word of God expressed in The Salvation Army’s eleven articles of faith’. They are then entitled to wear uniform, and some may also join uniformed sections such as the band or songster brigade, and/or take on Local Officer positions such as Corps Sergeant Major or Young People’s Band Leader. Senior Soldiers are the only full members of The Salvation Army. Senior Soldiers must obey many rules, which include such things as abstaining from intoxicating drink and drugs, no gambling in any form (including raffles and tombolas), marrying only another Christian (not necessarily a Salvationist), and being sensible in the choice of clothes they wear. Senior soldiers that join sections or take on Local Officer positions then have additional rules that they must obey, for example a Local Officer may not ‘go to law with a comrade salvationist before any court of justice’. Senior Soldiers and local officers do not receive any pay for their services.
Salvation Army Officers have the same status as ordained ministers and are the spiritual leaders of The Salvation Army. They are full-time employees, who have committed their life to doing God’s will and serving others. After their initial two-year training, they are commissioned (ordained) as Salvation Army Officers, initially at the rank of Captain. Many Officers are appointed to a Salvation Army Corps, but some are appointed to social centres or other Salvation Army units all over the world, or in administrative capacities at Headquarters’.