A Salvation Army Glossary or ‘What are they talking about?’

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Before we go much further in who the Salvation Army I need to give you a primer on our language. Every group, organization, and company have their own insider speak. We know the meaning behind AA, PTA, and AAA. Chuch folks know PK means preacher’s kid. So it is in The Salvation Army.

But first, why are we even called an Army?

When William Booth first left the traditional church to reach the poor and destitute he formed what was called the Christian Mission. Upon reading a printer’s proof of their 1878 report Booth noticed the words “The Christian Mission is a volunteer army”. He crossed out the words volunteer army and wrote Salvation Army.

Our folklore tells a version of this story where it was Booth who was dictating a letter in which he described themselves as a volunteer army. Upon hearing this, his son Bramwell said Volunteer! I’m no volunteer. I’m a regular!” At this point, his father instructed the secretary to strike out volunteer army and write Salvation Army.

From then on, this new Army used a military model with its own flag, hymns, and terminology. Booth and his followers were fighting against sin. They also fought against poverty and homelessness. The Salvation Army is still fighting this war today.

Though this model was set in the late 1800’s it is still followed today. These are the words we speak and continue to translate to others. We still wear the uniform that is frequently mistaken as a pilot. I’ve also been asked if I worked on a  cruise ship.

red indicates Officer/ordained clergy
blue indicates Soldier – church member

 

Officer – Ordained clergy (They are distinguished from members by the red epaulets on their uniform)

Soldier – church member

*Officers are also designated by rank with Lt., Capt. And Major signifying years of service. Lt. Colonel, Colonel, Commissioner are all reserved for specific leadership roles. There is one General which is chosen by election. And yes, we’ve elected women Generals.

Corps – the local church

Songbook – hymnal

Songsters – choir

ARC – Adult Rehabilitation Center

Quarters – parsonage or house for ordained clergy. Officers are transferred with the average stay being about 3-4 years. We live in homes owned by The Salvation Army. These homes are completely furnished. It makes moving easier. It’s good financial practice. And, hopefully, it helps us keep “things” in perspective.

Written in the early days of the Army, this song is still being sung in Salvation Army gatherings around the world today. Consider this an invitation to join us in the fight for right and opposing the wrong. May we all be valiant and strong for the sake of salvation.

Come, join our Army, to battle we go,
Jesus will help us to conquer the foe;
Fighting for right and opposing the wrong,
The Salvation Army is marching along.
Chorus
Marching along, marching along,
The Salvation Army is marching along;
Soldiers of Jesus, be valiant and strong;
The Salvation Army is marching along.

12 Comments

  1. Hopeful50 said:

    And all the people think it’s just a kettle and a bell. Love you sister.

    May 9, 2018
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      I know, Susan. But I’m amazed the trust they have in us to do the right thing when they aren’t that sure what we do with all they give us. Thankful to God!

      May 9, 2018
      Reply
  2. sarahgirl3 said:

    Thank you for teaching me! That is a neat history 🙂

    May 9, 2018
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Wait until I write about women in the Salvation Army, Sarah! 😉

      May 9, 2018
      Reply
  3. Annie Rim said:

    Love this! I always wondered why it was an Army…

    May 9, 2018
    Reply
  4. Lesley said:

    This is all really interesting! I didn’t know how it got its name.

    May 9, 2018
    Reply
    • Debby Hudson said:

      Thanks, Barbara, glad you found it of interest.

      May 10, 2018
      Reply

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