Salvation Army

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Salvation Army
Salvation Army
Belief Methodism
distribution worldwide
general Brian Peddle
founder William Booth
Establishment date 1865
Place of foundation London
Members nearly 1.8 million
Clergy 26,753 officers, 1,212,181 salvation soldiers
Communities 14,528 in 131 countries and in 175 languages
Hospitals 52 and 288 health centers with 3,773 doctors and medical staff (plus 335 programs for addicts)
Nursing homes 160 with 11,238 places (plus 495 homeless shelters with 29,736 places)
schools 1,782 and 955 kindergartens with a total of 21,009 teachers and 609,242 students
Universities and tertiary educational institutions 10
Tax position Free Church
Also called: The Salvation Army (English)
Website (Germany) , (Switzerland) , (International)

The Salvation Army is a Christian free church with pronounced social activity . It began in London in 1865 and gradually spread across the world from the 1880s. It has been represented in 131 countries since 2018.

Mission and activity

Road use

The Salvation Army is an international movement that focuses on social work and Christian preaching , which are closely linked. It is a Christian church with a Protestant-free church character and theology. Its roots are in methodism .

The practical social activity includes, among others homeless care , homes for children, the elderly, alcoholics and the disabled , AIDS - prevention , schools, hospitals , disaster relief , prison care and the International Tracing Service of the Salvation Army for missing family members. Also known are the second hand stores , whose income goes to charities.

The Salvation Army defines its mission as follows:

“The Salvation Army is an international movement and part of the universal Christian Church. Their message is based on the Bible . Your ministry is motivated by love for God. Your mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human need without regard to the person. "

The Salvation Army is a recognized NGO in the USA . It was first used after the Galveston Hurricane (1900) and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 . As an aid organization, it also takes part in the local BOS radio .

In Germany, the Salvation Army is a public corporation (KdöR) and has had a donation certificate from the German Donation Council since 2017 .

Goals and beliefs

The Salvation Army sees its task in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and in facing human need without regard to the person. Their service is motivated by love for God and is a result of their understanding of the Bible, the Old and New Testaments . Founder William Booth believed that many Christians sought salvation in rituals rather than in a relationship with God. That is why the Salvation Army renounces the sacraments (especially baptism and the Lord's Supper) as symbolic and external acts. She does not represent an "anti-sacramental", but an "asacramental" attitude and shares the spiritual meaning behind the symbolic act (water baptism and communion). The Salvation Army members are free to practice them in other communities.

Church life

In addition to the more well-known social and evangelistic activities, there is also church life in the Salvation Army with Sunday worship , pastoral care , church activities, church teaching (comparable to confirmation teaching), Bible studies and prayer meetings .

The Salvation Army has a creed on evangelical basis. Its uniformed members, the salvation soldiers and officers, undertake, among other things, to live according to Christian standards, to refrain from alcohol, tobacco, drugs, pornography and excessive medication, and to actively engage in social and evangelistic activities.

Infants are "consecrated" at a child blessing at the request of their legal guardians (the legal guardians publicly promise to raise the child "for God"), young people are blessed - at their own request .


Gustaf Cederström : The Salvation Army. (1886) The picture shows Katie Booth, daughter of William Booth , in a Paris pub

The Methodist pastor William Booth lived in the East End of London and was shocked by the misery in the local slums of early industrialization. On July 2, 1865, he founded with volunteers from various churches , the Christian Revival Society ( English Christian Revival Association ), which changed its name several times in the following years. So which was then East London Christian Mission (Engl. East London Christian Mission ) from it and from 1870, the Christian mission , dedicated to the theme "soup, soap, salvation" ( "Soup, Soap, Salvation") set out to help. In 1878, the previous name was dropped, and the movement was called officially The Salvation Army (Engl. The Salvation Army ). William Booth became their first general . The Salvation Army's struggle against misery and its organizational form were tightly structured militarily - this included the introduction of ranks, uniforms and symbols.

Booth's wife Catherine Booth helped develop the movement. She was the intellectual leader of the movement and represented her sick husband for months in the leadership, organized meals for the poor, was known as an excellent preacher and campaigned for improved working conditions, especially for women. Already in the founding act of the Christian Mission it was established that women have the same rights (preaching, leadership positions and so on) as men. As early as the 19th century, the Salvation Army insisted that women should be equal to men in all intellectual and social relationships. Women have the same status as men in the Salvation Army.

Within two years of being renamed, the Salvation Army expanded abroad. She has been active in Switzerland since 1882 and in Germany since 1886. In 1925 a granddaughter of the Salvation Army founders, Mary Booth, took command of the German Salvation Army.

Its activities in Austria began in 1926, founded by Selma Freud . “The entry of the Salvation Army into Vienna” was celebrated in a hall of the Methodist Church.

In 2017 the Salvation Army received official recognition from the local authorities as a Protestant free church in two provinces of the People's Republic of China . In the southwestern Chinese regions of Yunnan and Sichuan, she is now allowed to provide disaster relief, care for the elderly, run educational programs and, at the invitation of the official representative of the Protestants, the Chinese Christian Council, participate in religious activities in these provinces, but only in conjunction with the state recognized parishes may take place.

Salvation Army in Germany

The Salvation Army in Germany started in Stuttgart in 1886 under the direction of the Swiss Fritz Schaaff. When she opened a girls' home in Berlin on November 19, 1897, she began social work in Germany. The movement spread quickly and became a familiar sight on the streets of big cities. During the National Socialist era, the Salvation Army's activities were severely restricted. After 1961, no more meetings were allowed in the GDR . In the Federal Republic of Germany the Salvation Army got the status of a "corporation under public law". In 1961 the national headquarters were relocated from Berlin to Cologne . After 1990 the Salvation Army was allowed again in the new federal states and the first corps was opened in Leipzig . In Germany the Salvation Army is a member of the “ Working Group of Christian Churches ” (ACK) and the “ Evangelical Alliance ”.

The Territorial Leader of the Salvation Army for Germany, Lithuania and Poland has been Lieutenant Colonel Hervé Cachelin (Cologne), a great-great-grandson of Salvation Army founder William Booth, since 2019.


The uniformed members are called Salvationists. Most are volunteer salvation soldiers, some are employees of the Salvation Army. The trained, full-time clergy of the Salvation Army are called officers . There are also a growing number of full-time Salvation Army employees who are not members of the Salvation Army.

The highest head of the International Salvation Army is a general who is elected by a body of senior Salvation Army officers (" High Council ") and who is assisted by an advisory board. The International Headquarters (IHQ) is located in London. The international Salvation Army work is divided into territories, each with territorial leaders and a territorial headquarters. The headquarters for Germany, Lithuania and Poland are in Cologne , Colonel Hervé Cachelin has been in charge since July 2019, and the headquarters for Switzerland, Austria and Hungary are in Bern . The Salvation Army Museum is also located there .

Spread of the Salvation Army in the world

The Salvation Army has been working in 131 countries since 2018. It has around 1.7 million members worldwide, over a million of whom are salvation soldiers, the rest are recruits and members of the circle of friends. It employs over 26,000 officers and more than 112,000 employees in over 14,000 communities, over 3,000 schools, 3,600 social institutions, 52 hospitals and 288 health centers and clinics.

In Germany, the Church's work of the Salvation Army is divided into two districts (north-east and south-west), each headed by a district leader. Each district leader oversees the leaders of the local church within their district. The local congregations of the Salvation Army are referred to as "corps" and their leaders as "corps officers". The social work of the Salvation Army in Germany (the so-called "social work") is centrally managed by the "social department" in Cologne.

The official magazine of the Salvation Army in Germany is called "Heilsarmee-Magazin" (until December 31, 2007 "Der Kriegsruf"). In Switzerland, the corresponding magazine is called “Trialog” (de-ch) and “Espoir” (fr-ch). The members' magazine of the Salvation Army in Switzerland is “dialog” / “dialogue”.

From 1985 on, Salvation Army officers from Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, Hungary and Switzerland were trained in a joint training center in Basel. Since summer 2005, the school has been under the management of Swiss territory. Your three-year Bachelor's degree has been validated by Middlesex University and is based on the Bologna Process . The course is still open to foreign students. The training of the German officers has been taking place in Germany again since 2005 in cooperation with the Institute for Community Building and World Mission (IGW), which provides basic theological studies. The two-year course consists of this basic theological training and the modules of the officers' school, which are also accredited. The overall training ends after seven years with a Bachelor of Arts in theology course .

Salvation Army generals

In the event of a vacancy or before the incumbent retires, the Salvation Army High Council elects a new general. The high council can also vote out the incumbent general if he can no longer perform his duties. The high council consists of the acting chief of staff , all active commanders (with the exception of the general's spouse), all active country leaders and territorial commanders.

Listing of the Salvation Army generals with their respective terms of office:


The Salvation Army is a member of the Working Group of Christian Churches in Germany , the German Committee of the World Day of Prayer and the Association of Evangelical Free Churches . She also takes part in the actions and meetings of the Evangelical Alliance . She was a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC); membership has been suspended since 1978 because the Salvation Army refused to support the militant liberation movements in South Africa. The Salvation Army is involved in many bodies and projects of the WCC.

Similar movements

The success of the Salvation Army led to the establishment of similar movements of other denominations , which are usually characterized by military terminology and organization, as well as by " grass-roots " social work:

Eurovision Song Contest

A band from the Salvation Army Switzerland has applied to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest . At the elimination on December 15, 2012, the band was chosen by the audience with the song you and me as the winner to represent Switzerland at the ESC in Malmö . The organizers of the ESC refused to participate until the band got a name (Takasa) and agreed to forego the uniform during the performance. The band did not qualify for the finals.


  • Catherine Booth: The Right of Women to Preach . Salvation Army, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-905499-26-6 .
  • Robert Chevalley, Rosemarie Fullarton: The History of the Salvation Army in Switzerland. The first 100 years. The next 25 years / L'historie de l'Armée du Salut en Suisse. The 100 premières années. Les 25 années suivantes . Salvation Army Headquarters Bern / Fischer Münsingen BE, Bern 2009, ISBN 978-3-905656-15-2 (German, French).
  • Richard Collier: The General of God William Booth. The history of the Salvation Army . 4th edition. Johannis, Lahr 1997, ISBN 3-501-00110-X (English: The General next to God . New York / London 1965. Translated by Hermann Thiemke, first edition: 1981).
  • Dirk Gnewekow, Thomas Hermsen: The history of the Salvation Army: The adventure of saving souls. A socio-historical representation . Leske and Budrich , Opladen 1993, ISBN 3-8100-1062-6 .
  • Roger J. Green: Catherine Booth: servant of the poor, conscience of the rich, advocate of the lost: the "mother of the Salvation Army" . Brunnen, Gießen 2010, ISBN 978-3-7655-1745-7 (English: Catherine Booth - A Biography of the Cofounder of the Salvation Army . Translated by Markus Baum).
  • Hildi Hari-Wäfler: Bible, tin and trust in God. A life with the Salvation Army . Neufeld Verlag, Schwarzenfeld 2012, ISBN 978-3-86256-029-5 .
  • Uwe Heimowski : The Salvation Army. Practical religion - lived faith . Neufeld Verlag, Schwarzenfeld 2006, ISBN 3-937896-29-5 .
  • Uwe Heimowski: Bruno's thank you - stories from the Reeperbahn. Neufeld Verlag, Schwarzenfeld 2005, ISBN 978-3-937896-12-0 (lovingly drawn portraits of marginalized settlers from the perspective of a Salvation Army employee).
  • Frank Heinrich (with Uwe Heimowski): Mission: Responsibility. From the Salvation Army to the Bundestag . Neufeld Verlag, Schwarzenfeld 2013, ISBN 978-3-86256-039-4 .
  • Glenn K. Horridge: The Salvation Army. Origins and Early Days 1865-1900. Ammonite Books, Godalming 1993, ISBN 1-869866-07-X (English).
  • Kothe Willie: Oppressed - but not perished. The Salvation Army in the Third Reich and the years after. St. Johannis-Druckerei, Lahr-Dinglingen 1986, ISBN 3-501-00155-X (Salvation Army History in Germany).
  • Trevor Yaxley: William & Catherine Booth - The Life & Legacy of the Salvation Army Founders. Adullam, Grasbrunn 2007, ISBN 978-3-931484-35-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Salvation Army  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Salvation Army  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c The Salvation Army Year Book 2019, The Salvation Army, London
  3. ^ Order of the Salvation Army
  4. History of Salvation Army Disaster Relief in the USA
  9. Explanation of the Salvation Army on sacraments
  12. Information on the establishment of the Salvation Army
  13. ^ The new commander of the German Salvation Army . In: Vossische Zeitung , July 3, 1925, evening edition, p. 4.
  14. ^ Frank Hinkelmann : The Evangelical Movement in Austria. Main features of their historical and theological development 1945–1998. Bonn 2014, p. 121. Based on an article in the magazine Truth and Love of January 30, 1927, which describes this celebration held on October 29, 1926. However, 1927 is often given as the year of foundation.
  15. China: Kleine Sensation ,, article from September 21, 2017.
  16. The History of the Salvation Army
  17. Short biography of Johann Büsing, head of the Salvation Army in Germany 1940–1947
  18. Hildegard Bleick: Holy Resistance. Verlag der St. Johannis Druckerei, Lahr / Schwarzwald 1980, ISBN 3-501-00208-4 .
  19. a b c Andreas Fincke: What is behind the Salvation Army? In: Der Sonntag, No. 19 of May 13, 2007, p. 4.
  20. Salvation Army discontinues “Salvation Army Magazine” ,, message from September 3, 2019.
  28. ^ Salvation Army: Training
  29. ^ Announcement by Swiss television from December 16, 2012: The Salvation Army represents Switzerland at the Eurovision Song Contest
  30. Press release of January 24, 2013 by the Salvation Army on the requirements of the ESC