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Frequently asked questions

We are grateful for the many students who choose The Salvation Army for their assignments and research. To help you, we have compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ).

We hope this information will provide the details you need to complete your assignment. 

If you need to

  • Interview a member of The Salvation Army, or if you have further questions regarding our mission, beliefs, values, or how we help the community,
  • Obtain more information on our welfare, social work or a specific service,

Please contact your nearest centre or Corps.

If there’s some information you think we should add to the above Student FAQ, please contact us by writing to: salvosaus@aus.salvationarmy.org.

General Questions

What are the values and mission?

International Mission Statement

The Salvation Army, an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church. 

Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by love for God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.

Mission Values of The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory

Our Vision - The Salvation Army - a growing, loving community of people dynamically living God's mission in a broken world.

Our Mission - The Salvation Army raised up by God for the work of:

  • Transforming Lives
  • Caring for People
  • Making Disciples
  • Reforming Society

Our Values - Recognising that God is always at work in the world we value:

  • Human Dignity
  • Justice
  • Hope
  • Compassion
  • Community

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How are these aims and values achieved?

In each community where The Salvation Army has a presence, our officers (who are ordained ministers), staff and volunteers review the local needs and establish relevant objectives. 

The Salvation Army seeks to provide holistic support which includes sharing our faith through worship. We also provide social and community support programs and services including:

  • Soup vans - delivering hot soup and bread to the hungry
  • Creative Opportunities - meaningful employment and training opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Flying Padre - a Salvation Army officer who flies his plane to visit remote stations in the Northern Territory

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How do you get involved?

There are many ways to participate in The Salvation Army, including:

If a person would like to become an Officer (minister) in The Salvation Army, they must be an adult member of The Salvation Army church and undergo 2 years of Officers training.

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How do people access services?

Persons in need of assistance should contact their local Salvation Army support service or church.

The Salvation Army is committed to assisting all people without regard to nationality, race, belief, sexuality, ability, or judgement of behaviour. We seek to provide services and support that address the needs of the individual.

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How many people are assisted?

In a typical week, across Australia, we provide (approximate figures):

  • 100,000 meals for the hungry
  • 2,000 beds for the homeless
  • 5,000 to 8,000 food vouchers
  • 1,000 people with assistance in finding employment
  • Refuge to 500 victims of abuse
  • Assistance to 500 people addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling
  • Several thousand people with counselling
  • 3,000 elderly people with aged care services
  • 40 people in the court system with chaplaincy services
  • Family tracing services which locate 40 missing family members

The Salvation Army tries to address each person's problems and needs as a whole. By doing this we try to help people get back on their feet and progressively able to take care of themselves.

We recognise that each individual that comes to us for help has unique and often complex needs. Whether it is short-term assistance such as providing food hampers to get a family through a rough patch or working with someone to overcome addiction, we aim to provide the best possible care to address their needs.

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What are our funding sources?

Income:
Our income to fund these services was $334 million and came from the following sources:

Source of income

Departments

2011

$'000

Government Income 158,299
Trading Revenue 86,724
Residents Contributions 12,898
Red Shield Appeal/Other Donations  
49,159
Investment Income 11,887
Legacies 3,824
Miscellaneous 11,517
Total Income 334,308

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Budget:
The total costs of providing all Salvation Army social services in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory for the 2010-2011 fiscal year* was nearly $301 million. This is broken down as follows:
* from our latest Annual Report issued in January 2012.

Social expenditure

 

 

Department

2011

$'000

Aged Care & Disability Services 25,471
Employment, Education and Training 45,242
Salvos Stores 71,391
Homelessness & Domestic Violence 51,450
Individual & Family Support 38,247
Children & Young People at Risk 35,429
Addictions & Substance Abuse 22,474
Administration & Research 11,669
Total Social Centre Expenditure 301,373
Other Expenditure including Red Shield Appeal  
22,845
Total Expenditure 324,218

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How are funds raised?

The Salvation Army work is largely supported by the generosity of the public. Funds are raised by:

  • Doorknocking and face to face during our annual Red Shield Appeal
  • Online via this website
  • Telephone via 13 SALVOS (13 72 58)
  • Wills and bequests
  • Direct mail sent to people's homes
  • Corporate and business donations
  • Special events such as motorcycle rallies or fundraising concerts
  • Salvos Stores
  • Special marketing promotions, such as Kmart Wishing Tree or the Myer Spirit of Christmas CD
  • Salvos Crisis Partners - a program for people who make a monthly donation
  • Food bank - boxed or canned foods donated by stores
  • Child Sponsorship program to help children overseas

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How are donations used?

The Salvation Army helps people in our local communities. 

Every dollar donated goes to assist families and individuals in need. Donations help people get back on their feet and become part of their community again.

The Salvos have very low administration costs; In the 2010/2011 year 15.19 cents for every dollar donated was used for administrative expenses.

The Salvation Army is committed to assisting all people without regard to nationality, race, belief, sexuality, ability, or judgement of behaviour. 

Donations are used to fund the following programmes:

 

  • Aged care services
  • Alcohol detoxification facilities and services
  • Anger management programmes
  • Asylum seeker support services
  • Chaplaincy services
  • Child programmes & services
  • Community support programmes
  • Court and prison services
  • Crisis accommodation / Contact / Counselling centres
  • Crisis telephone support services
  • Critical incident counselling
  • Disability services
  • Disaster relief
  • Domestic and family violence services
  • Drug addiction detoxification
  • Drug and alcohol programmes
  • Emergency services
  • Employment training programmes
  • Family counseling & welfare services
  • Family crisis and transitional housing
  • Family tracing (missing persons)
  • Flying Padre and outback services
  • Food vans
  • Gambling counselling
  • Grief counselling
  • Health information exchange
  • Home and school support programmes
  • Homeless accommodation centres
  • Hostels for youth
  • Housing services
  • Human trafficking safe house
  • Marriage enrichment
  • Material aid
  • Meals programmes
  • Mental health services
  • Migrant and refugee services
  • Outreach services
  • Parenting skills
  • Recreation programmes
  • Refuge for victims of violence
  • Research and advocacy
  • Rural support services
  • Social policy and social justice services
  • Survivors of suicide counselling groups
  • Youth crisis drop-in centres
  • Youth support programmes

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How are Red Shield funds distributed?

The Red Shield Appeal is The Salvation Army's major annual fundraising campaign and helps us to support more than one million Australians each year.

This year, the fundraising target is $83.8 million nationally.

Our organisation works to ensure that every donation is used most effectively, and administration costs are kept to a minimum.

Approximately 85 cents in every dollar donated to The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal goes directly to those in need, which is one of the most efficient administration rates of any charity in Australia.

Donations help fund our vast network of social and community services.

These services include emergency and disaster relief, homeless shelters, youth drop-in centres and education/training programs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, family tracing services, financial and telephone crisis counselling, aged care, employment services, training programs, and chaplaincy to isolated rural communities, to emergency service personnel and within our courts and prison system.

We believe that as we continue to work in partnership with our generous donors, our army of volunteers (including 100,000 volunteer collectors alone for the Red Shield Appeal doorknock) and the business community, we can make a difference, see lives transformed and help make Australia an even better place.

For more information, or to find out how you can help, please visit salvationarmy.org.au/redshieldappeal.

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When did the Red Shield Appeal start?

In 1965 the first trial Red Shield Appeal door knock was conducted in the Sydney area. For the first time instead of just using uniformed Salvos to collect night after night over a three month period as part of a 'self denial appeal', the friends of the Salvos took part in a one morning doorknock under the new name.

The idea came from Canada where The Salvation Army had used this method and name since the late 1940's. The Red Shield approach was based on the popular Salvation Army Red Shield huts and services provided by us during World War II for all the western nations, including Australia and Canada.

Two Australian Salvation Army officers, Majors Don Campbell and Charles Cross, investigated the Canadian idea of running an annual Red Shield Appeal. Major Cross passed on his knowledge to The Salvation Army in Sydney where they quickly instigated the first trial in Sydney. Major Campbell in Melbourne passed on his information to Colonel Harry Goffin and Captain Smith who implemented it progressively in the southern states of Australia.

Also in 1965 Salvation Army centres in North Western Tasmania successfully carried out a one day door knock with the help of community groups and friends. In 1968 the City of Melbourne made an attempt to doorknock the whole city and advertise the event through all main media.

In 1969 the whole of Victoria took part in the Red Shield Appeal doorknock and a leading advertising agency developed an advertising campaign including the now famous "Thank God for the Salvos" slogan and donated all their time. Melbourne's leading film maker donated a free 30 second TV commercial, five leading photographers travelled the state and contributed an outstanding photographic display, and all the media donated time and space. The result was a 100% increase in the appeal total for Victoria to $200,000.

First nation-wide Red Shield Appeal

In 1970 we held our first national appeal, again using the 'Thank God for the Salvos' advertising campaign, and this time the donations of media space and time were national. The appeal raised $1 million dollars across Australia.

The Salvation Army was the first charity to hold a national doorknock, the first to have a national advertising campaign, and the first to have a national TV campaign. The results in terms of donations, change in awareness and attitude to The Salvation Army and its clients were outstanding.

Today we have an income of more than $50 million from the Red Shield Appeal, plus another $50 million from wills and bequests.

Our regular Newspoll shows that the Red Shield Appeal is known by 96% of the population and 91% have a positive attitude to the 'Salvos' and more than 90% know the slogan, "Thank God for the Salvos".

The first time we conducted such research in 1970 we were the rated the sixth most important appeal in Australia; today we are very clearly the appeal with the highest regard. The sad fact is that a new problem has developed to take advantage of this positive image - more than 50% of people are not at home when we call for a donation and we now have a far higher income from those who donate through the mail, via the internet, and through regular monthly donations.

The Red Shield Appeal today

We rely on the Red Shield Appeal to supplement the programs which are paid for by government contributions, which provide 54% of our income.

Each week we serve 100,000 meals, provide beds to 2,000 homeless people, distribute many blankets, support 500 people addicted with rehabilitation, provide refuge to 400 victims of domestic abuse and counselling to thousands of people.

The Salvation Army thanks God for the way in which the Red Shield Appeal has given us a life line between a caring Australian public and the people in our society who we help to shield.

Today we depend more than ever on the proceeds from the Red Shield Appeal and want to thank the people of Australia for the support they continue to give us to assist those in need.

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Are Salvos Stores and Family Stores run just to make money?

The Salvation Army operates more than 400 stores throughout Australia selling predominantly (but not only) preloved goods donated by the public.

While we rely heavily on the generosity of the public and thousands of community volunteers, we also have a professional retail network and a great team of retail managers who oversee our operations.  In 2010/2011 Salvos Stores generated $17.2 million surplus for Salvation Army programs including goods to the value of $2.6 million given away free of charge to people who are experiencing hardship and seek assistance through Salvation Army Community Support Centres.

Salvos Stores prevents approximately 55,000 tonnes of goods per annum going to landfill.

Each of our stores also operates as a community contact point, and our staff can tell countless stories of customers who have requested - and been given - contact details for our churches, emergency relief programs and counselling services.

Speaking of our staff, there are thousands of Australians who want to help others in their local community in some way, and have chosen to do so by volunteering in our shops. We value these people highly as they freely give back to their local community.

So the next time you want to pick up a bargain or search for collector's pieces and rare treasures, drop into one of our stores and chat with our friendly staff. Every dollar you spend will go towards helping others in need or distress.

You can even pick up a copy of Warcry while you're there!

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What is the organisational structure?

The Salvation Army is a world-wide Christian church. The Salvation Army International Headquarters (IHQ) is based in London.

Our work in Australia is governed by two Territorial Headquarters (THQ) which report to London.

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What government regulations apply?

The Salvation Army is a legally registered religious organisation, and as a result is not required to register as a charity.

The Australian community recognises us as a not-for-profit social welfare organisation.

Because The Salvation Army runs many different programs and has a wide range of activities, we are subject to Federal, state and local government policies and regulations for the following areas:

  • Aged care services
  • Child and adolescent services
  • Counselling services
  • Crisis accommodation services
  • Disability services
  • Drug and alcohol programmes
  • Employment training programmes
  • Family Housing programmes
  • Fundraising
  • Health information services
  • Accommodation centres
  • Intellectual disability services
  • Migrant services
  • Privacy
  • Youth crisis and support services
  • Business regulations governing Salvos Stores

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What is the history of The Salvation Army?

The Salvation Army is a world-wide Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by love for God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human needs in his name without discrimination.

The Salvation Army's beginnings date back to 2 July 1865 when a Methodist minister named William Booth began preaching to and helping the poor and underprivileged in London; by 1867 it had developed into a ministry offering basic schooling, reading rooms, penny banks, soup kitchens, and relief aid to the destitute.

In 1880, John Gore and Edward Saunders brought The Salvation Army to Australia. They held a street meeting in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and their parting invitation to those standing around listening was, "If there is any man here who hasn't had a decent meal today, let him come home to tea with me."

The following dates are generally accepted as those on which The Salvation Army commenced work in the Australasian colonies:

South Australia - 5 September 1880 
New South Wales - 4 December 1882 
Victoria - 24 December 1882 
New Zealand - April 1883 
Tasmania - November 1883 
Queensland - 1885 
Western Australia - December 1891
Northern Territory - 1940's

The name of The Salvation Army:

1865 - Originally called the Christian Revival Society, and soon after called the East London Christian Mission. 

1867 - The organisation grew rapidly and became known simply as the Christian Mission.

1878 - William Booth was perusing a printer's proof for a pamphlet which referred to the Christian Mission as a ' volunteer army'. Booth swept his pen through the word ' volunteer' and changed it to read 'Salvation Army'. The name was adopted.

Visit our history and heritage page to learn more about The Salvation Army 

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How has the Salvation Army changed?

In the year 1900, The Salvation Army in Australia could boast the following statistics:

Officers & Cadets & Employees: 1929 
Soldiers (Members) estimated at 50,000 
Corps (Churches): 512 
Outposts: 858 

In 1903, The Salvation Army made claim to .082 per cent of Australia's population. That percentage has not been met since.

In 2002, The Salvation Army in Australia had:

Officers & Cadets (ministers):1,901 - includes both active and retired officers
Employees: 6478
Soldiers (Members): 30,885 
Corps (Churches): 355
Outposts: 194

Worldwide, The Salvation Army has:

Officers & Cadets (ministers): 26,462
Employees: 112,535
Soldiers (members): 1,640,962
Corps (churches) & outposts: 13,188

In 2012, The Salvation Army in Australia has:

Officers & Cadets (ministers):1,997 - includes both active and retired officers
Employees: 8,885
Soldiers (Members): 24,188
Corps (Churches): 330
Outposts: 48
Institutions, stores, programmes: 1,267

Worldwide, The Salvation Army has:

Officers & Cadets (ministers): 29,041
Employees: 104,248
Soldiers (members): 1,724,382
Corps (churches) & outposts: 15,422

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Can I use logos and images in my assignment?

Students and teachers are welcome to use The Salvation Army's logos and images in their classroom assignments, reports and presentations.

However, they cannot be used on a website, book, magazine, journal, published study or report, or by other organisations, businesses or individuals without prior written permission. Requests for such use of copyrighted symbols and images should be emailed to our media team, providing specific details regarding the desired use of the image or symbol.

All Salvation Army symbols and images are trademarked or copyrighted.

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What are the Salvos doing about unemployment?

For over 100 years The Salvation Army has engaged in seeking to assist unemployed people. Not only with material goods but also in the area of seeking new employment opportunities.

In response to Government funding arrangements during the 1990's The Salvation Army tendered for the opportunity to join the Job network scheme. Our successful application enabled the Salvos to establish a National Employment Service, known as The Salvation Army Employment Plus.

Operating at sites across four states the Salvos conduct a professional job placement service which provides for the unemployed in a  wide range of areas and in particular the following..

A youth program that is designed to assist young people who are at risk of leaving school early. On the other hand we have a program designed for mature aged people, that is people over 40 years of age

Access to job seeking facilities has been established at our offices. Vocational training can also be arranged through these sites. We have an assistance program for Indigenous people and we conduct 'on the job' training, through our furniture factory and at several Cafés.

We recognise the need for everyone to have a healthy self esteem and believe that worthwhile employment is a major factor in fulfilling that need.

You are invited to view our website at: www.employmentplus.com.au

Alternatively, if you are interested in working for The Salvation Army check out our employment page.

Les Strong

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Do I have to be a Salvo to work for the Salvos?

There is not a pre-requesite for employment to be a “Salvo”.  In the traditional sense of the term, Salvos are members of The Salvation Army who worship and serve together as a Christian congregation.  The Salvation Army , an international movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian Church.  Its message is based on the bible.  Its ministry is motivated by the love of God.  Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human need in his name without discrimination.

All employees in non-ministry positions in the Army are expected to work in accordance with Australia's mission and values and comply with official standards.  The mission is four-fold:  Transforming Lives, Caring for People, Making Disciples of Jesus and Reforming Society.

Our values are that of Human dignity respecting the sanctity of human life and affirming the worth and capacity of all people; Justice in promoting healthy and whole relationships with integrity and fairness, including advocacy for the disadvantaged and stewardship of resources; Hope in sharing the gospel of Christ and work for reconciliation, healing and transformation for all people and creation; Compassion being compelled to stand with an do something about another's suffering; and a commitment to Community to work with individuals and journey together for mutual capacity building. 

Employees know of the values and mission of The Salvation Army are valuable contributors to these standards.  So, to work for the Salvos, we believe this makes you one.

Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs

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How and where did the Salvos start in Australia?

The Salvation Army has been in Australia for 128 years.

Early in 1880, two migrant Salvos from the UK—Edward Saunders and John Gore—were both living in Adelaide.

The two men met unexpectedly when Saunders heard Gore telling a group of people how he became a Christian in London while attending the Christian Mission (as The Salvation Army was known in its early days).

Saunders was excited to discover a fellow Salvo and together they decided it was time to start the movement in Australia.

They wrote to the General (world leader of The Salvation Army) in London and told him they had discovered enough Salvos in Australia to commence meetings. They were even bold enough to suggest to the General who they thought he should send to help and Saunders offered to pay the fare to Australia for the new officers (ministers).

On 5 September, 1880 they conducted an open air service in Adelaide's Botanic Park where Gore issued this invitation: 'If there is any man here who hasn't had a decent meal today, let him come home to tea with me.'

This was the beginning of The Salvation Army in Australia. They stood on a horse buggy for that first meeting and later found a hall to hold meetings.

In January 1881, Captain and Mrs Sutherland were sent from London to take charge of the work of the Salvos in Australia. By this time there were 68 soldiers (full members).

After its commencement in Adelaide, the Salvos opened in Melbourne and Sydney within two years and in Queensland in 1885.

Today The Salvation Army operates in every state and territory of Australia.

Lieut-Colonel James Condon

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Where have the Salvos most recently established a presence?

The idea of 'going global' has its roots in the Bible. Jesus commanded his followers to 'go and make disciples of all nations' (Matthew chapter 28, verse 19). For this reason, 'going global' has always been a critical priority for The Salvation Army.

Today, the Salvos continue to take the gospel message around the world.

In November 2007, leaders were appointed to Greece and some parts of Africa for the first time.

The work in Greece began officially in Thessalonika on 1 October 2007. 

In Africa, new openings have been established in Burundi, Namibia and Mali. The Salvos previously worked in Namibia from 1932 to 1939. Now, 69 years later, the re-establishment of our presence in the country has been welcomed.

In Mali, a predominantly Muslim nation, work commenced under the leadership of Andre Togo. The Army's work in Mali became official in January 2008 with the appointment of leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Andre and his wife are preparing for training as Salvation Army officers (ministers).

The most recent and exciting news is the appointment of officers to the Arabic Gulf State of Kuwait. Kuwait recognises three principal churches, Protestant, Catholic and Coptic, and provides separate compounds for each church.

The Salvos will be located in the Protestant compound, officially known as the National Evangelical Church of Kuwait.

The Salvation Army now works in 116 countries.

Lieut-Col Aylene Finger

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Do the Salvos have their own Pope?

The Salvation Army has an international leader who is called the General; she leads the work of the Salvos in 115 countries.

To become General of The Salvation Army, a person (man or woman) must be a Christian who is ordained and commissioned as an officer (minister) in The Salvation Army. The electing body, referred to as the High Council, is composed of all active commissioners and territorial commanders in the world.

The General resides in London where The Salvation Army began its work in 1865. The founders of the Army were William and Catherine Booth. They chose a quasi-military command structure in 1878 when their congregation, The Christian Mission, changed its name to The Salvation Army.

William Booth was the Army's first General and, since then, another 17 Generals from around the world (including Generals Eva Burrows and George Carpenter from Australia) have served in the role.

The Army's current leader is General Shaw Clifton. Before becoming a Salvo officer in 1973, General Clifton studied law at the University of London. He has served in Salvation Army appointments around the world including as a corps officer (minister), in education, legal and parliamentary work, as a divisional commander and territorial commander.

General Clifton is married to Helen, she is the world president of women's ministries in The Salvation Army. They have three children and three grandchildren.

Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs

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What does a Commissioner do?

In The Salvation Army, the rank of Commissioner is assigned by the General (the world leader of the Salvos). The roles of commissioners vary, but all carry a great weight of responsibility. 

In Australia, there are currently three active commissioners appointed in two territorys: two Commissioners are Territorial Commanders, the other is territorial president of women's ministries. In the Australia Southern Territory, it is my privilege to fulfil this role.

A territorial commander is responsible to the General for accomplishing the Salvo's mission of transforming lives, caring for people, and reforming society within a territory.

This person must provide visionary and practical leadership and inspire Salvos in their Christian faith. They are also responsible for the effective implementation of social service programs to meet human need, and for taking social action against evil in society.

Among other things, a territorial commander is also responsible for the legal constitution, property, and finances of the territory, as well as the development of officers (ministers) and soldiers (full members).

As territorial president of women's ministries, I share the demands of territorial leadership and ministry with the territorial commander, including preaching at and leading church services, and caring for the spiritual and physical welfare of all officers.

In particular, I am concerned with women officers and officers' children and work to encourage and develop women officers in their ministry and leadership. I oversee programs and ministry to women, by women and for women.

Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs

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Does The Salvation Army work with indigenous people?

Following the discovery of gold at Murchison in Western Australia in October 1891, General William Booth commissioned 12 Salvation Army ministers and sent them west.

The history of The Salvation Army's work in Western Australia and the goldfields is amazing. The army's work amongst indigenous people equalled their work among miners.

However, in those early days, the greatest work among indigenous people was in South Australia. Within three years of the Army's commencement in that state, there were more than 100 indigenous Salvation Army members.

The Salvation Army works with people all over Australia, and supports indigenous people with emergency accommodation, refuge through its domestic violence services, food parcels and general enquires.

Around the country there are some wonderful ministries taking place. At the Salvos in Alice Springs, there is a Sunday afternoon service for indigenous members, conducted by them in their native language.

Swan Hill in Victoria is another place where indigenous members of the congregation serve the wider Aboriginal community.

In 1997, the two Salvation Army Australian territories issued a statement on the reconciliation of Australia's indigenous people. The complete text is available on the Army website www.salvationarmy.org.au.

The statement concludes with the following comment.
'We will work together towards the healing of the wounds of the past and promote the ideals expressed in this statement as we move towards a shared future in the ongoing reconciliation process.'

Commissioner Raymond Finger

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Why don't the Salvos have communion?

Some people might be surprised to learn than communion is practiced among many Salvation Army members—although it is not represented in the ritual and observance that people commonly associate with communion that occurs as part of a church service.

It's worth considering whether or not Jesus intended to turn a beautiful moment in a common meal into a ritual. At the famed last supper, Jesus took bread and wine—two common elements on the meal table at the time—and issued an invitation for his people, when they came together, to remember his sacrificial death.

Is the means of remembrance more important than the remembrance itself? The Salvos say  'no'.

At most meals, it is common practice for Salvationists to say two prayers. One before the meal is eaten (referred to as 'grace' or a blessing). The second prayer comes at the end of the meal and is the 'remembrance' or returning thanks.

In that second prayer the life and death of Jesus is remembered with thankfulness and gratitude.

We believe the Army's practice of saying grace and returning thanks at each meal is a valid observance of communion.

At least this is how the Salvos have come to understand the Bible verse where the apostle Paul writes (in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, verse 26): 'For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.'

Lieut-Col Aylene Finger

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How long have the Salvos had female ministers?

The work of women has been a distinctive feature of The Salvation Army since it began in 1865. It was the dream of Catherine Booth (co-founder of the Army) to bring about a new dawn for women, and that dream was born long before the Salvos began.

Before Catherine married William Booth (and they began what would become The Salvation Army together), she wrote to him about her idea of a new place for women in the church where their work would be validated by holding office, receiving an allowance, having authority and being respected.

Historically throughout the world, women within The Salvation Army have played a leading role in its growth and development. For instance, when the Salvos first began in Sydney in 1882, it was a woman—Mrs Adelaide Sutherland—who led the worship service and preached on that first day.

The enduring presence and work of women in The Salvation Army can be attributed to the fact that Catherine Booth was courageous enough to recognise that women share an equal calling with men in God's work.

Since 1881, women within The Salvation Army have been commissioned (ordained), received a rank and—in keeping with the military terminology used by the Salvos—been referred to as officers (ministers).

I have served as an officer for the past 34 years. As a woman, I remain indebted to God for leading me to a place in his church where I have been able to exercise my God-given gifts and invest in the lives of many. 

Lieut-Col Aylene Finger

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Why don't Salvos smoke cigarettes?

When it comes to social reform, The Salvation Army has long been ahead of its time. The same can be said in its response to some socially accepted norms.

In response to mounting evidence about the associated health risks with smoking, the wider community has become adverse to smoking in the workplace, on public transport and in cafes, restaurants, bars and shopping centres.

But, long before any anti-smoking laws were enforced, the inherent health problems and the cost associated with smoking were recognised by the Salvos and, as such, the use of tobacco was discouraged among its soldiers (members).

Since 1975, people who become Salvation Army soldiers have promised to live without using tobacco.

Every Salvationist signs a soldier's covenant that includes the following paragraph:

I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.

The explanation for not smoking is simply stated as, 'enslaving the body', or, in other words, addictive. It also needs to be said that smoking has become a habit that many cannot financially afford.

The intention for people who become Salvos is that they will love and serve God and live free from anything that gets in the way of living a life of wholesome simplicity.

Commissioner Raymond Finger

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Who was William Booth?

William Booth, born in Nottingham, UK, on 10 April 1829, was the founder of The Salvation Army. Booth grew up in the Methodist Church and worked in a pawnbroker's shop.

He felt a calling on his life to become a full-time preacher and was offered a position as an evangelist for a few months with some financial support. This was the beginning of him being able to fulfil his life's calling.

In 1865 Booth started the Christian Mission, which was re-named in 1878 as The Salvation Army. Booth had a heart for the down-and-out in society. As he walked around the East End in London and saw people—the poorest of the poor—sleeping in the streets, Booth felt these were the people he should help.

Outside a pub called The Blind Beggar in June 1865, Booth stopped to listen to a group conducting an open-air meeting and he accepted an invitation to say a few words. Soon after, on 2 July in the Whitechapel district of London, Booth preached to hundreds and later declared to his wife, Catherine: 'I have found my destiny'.

Booth encountered opposition, but became a social reformer in his time. In 1890 he published a book, In Darkest England and the Way Out, and in 1891 opened a match factory to create employment. He also provided training in agriculture, shelter and food. While reaching out to help the poor, Booth encouraged the rich to use their wealth wisely.

Booth was a creative communicator and was ably supported and advised by his wife Catherine. Physically weak and blind after giving himself in total commitment to the calling on his life, Booth died on 20 August 1912.

Lieut-Colonel Jan Condon

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Do Salvos have modern music or just brass bands?

My initial response to this question is 'yes'—Salvos do have modern music as well as brass bands (that's assuming brass bands are not modern!).

The Salvation Army is blessed with many fine musicians who play a vast assortment of instruments including brass, wind, strings, drums etc. The important thing for me is that Salvos use whatever musical instrument is available to praise and worship God and connect with him.

In Papua New Guinea (where I have just spent three-and-a-half years), the Salvos only have one brass band. The main instrument used for worship there is guitar and the worship in PNG is passionate and connects with God.

I have also been the minister at some of the largest Salvo churches in Australia where the brass band has played contemporary music as part of its repertoire.

God is not concerned about what music we use to worship or what instrument we play, so long as worship helps us him and enables us to connect with him.

Both brass bands and modern music can be therapy for our soul and greatly enhance worship. However, I realise that everyone responds to a different style of music. So whichever style helps you connect with God—go for it.

And don't be surprised when you visit a Salvation Army church meeting if you hear a wide range of music styles. Usually the music played depends on what musicians are available.

Lieut-Colonel James Condon

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Is a Salvo Captain the same as a minister?

When William Booth commenced The Salvation Army, he decided to use military terminology for our structure and organisation. That's why we are called an Army and we have Officers (Captains and Majors etc); our members are called soldiers and our churches were once called citadels.

The Salvos' ordained ministers are called captains (along with a few other ranks) but are the same as ministers or pastors of other denominations. They study in a theological college and, after completing their training, are ordained and commissioned as an officer in The Salvation Army. Some Officers go on to postgraduate studies.

When commissioned and ordained, captains are sent to work in churches, social services centres or other areas of ministry within The Salvation Army. A Salvo captain in a Corps (church) carries out many of the same duties as a minister in another denomination (e.g. conducting church services, weddings, funerals, Bible studies, administration etc.).

However, there are other things Salvo captains are called upon to do that are inherent to The Salvation Army. For example you may see them in a pub, on the street or at a railway station distributing copies of Warcry and collecting funds, while connecting with the wider community. A Salvo Captain may also be involved in serving people at the scene of a disaster.

But the bottom line is that Salvation Army Captains are fully ordained ministers of the Christian religion and carry out the duties of their office similar to ministers in other denominations.

Lieut-Colonel James Condon

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Are the Salvos a church or a charity?

This is a really good question because it's not possible for the Salvos to be a church without being charitable. Therefore, it is both a church and a charity.

The Salvation Army thinks of itself in terms of a body with two arms, the spiritual and the social—with one hand we reach out to God and with the other we reach out to the world. I think that's a beautiful image.

And this 'two-in-one' focus is not new for us. From the commencement of The Salvation Army in London in the late 19th century, our founders, William and Catherine Booth, emphasised that we must exist in this fashion—as a church we must live out our Christianity.

It's crucial that our Christianity is expressed in charitable work. I don't see a separation between church and charity and, in fact, if there were ever to be a separation between the two, then The Salvation Army would cease to exist as it is known, understood and valued today.

If it were to be 'just' a church and failed to be charitable, then it would have no right to preach or speak about justice, compassion, or anything that affects the well-being of others.

But if, on the other hand, it were just a charity, it would fail to respond to the whole person—the body, mind and spirit.

When I first attended The Salvation Army church, I loved the idea that it practised what it preached. And I'm still excited today about why we do what we do—we meet in churches around Australia to celebrate our love of God, and we work in the community because that same love compels us to help others, just as Jesus did.

Commissioner Raymond Finger

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Why don't the Salvos have baptism?

To the vast majority of people, baptism is regarded as a distinctly Christian ritual. So it may seem odd to some and puzzling to others as to why it is not observed within The Salvation Army.

The Army has several distinctives that make it different to other denominations—its uniform, terminology and symbols to name a few. In respect to spirituality, the Army is fundamentally simple and uncluttered compared to some other churches.

In its early days, baptism was part of Salvation Army practice, but a decision was made that saw the discontinuation of any form of ritual that could be interpreted as a substitute for daily faith and dependence upon God.

Salvationists see such rituals as outward signs of an inward experience, and it is the inward experience that is of greatest importance to God.

The decision to discontinue baptism resulted from the question: Is baptism essential to a person becoming 'saved' or for one to continue in a relationship with God?

Based upon the Bible, the answer was clearly 'no', baptism is not regarded as essential to salvation or continued faith.

While some might accuse the Army of being disobedient to what the Bible teaches regarding baptism, it was and continues to be a way whereby people witness to their new found faith and conversion.

New believers within The Salvation Army testify publicly in worship and tell their story of conversion. When becoming members they are publicly enrolled, testify and sign a covenant of membership. Although no water is involved, the witness to one's faith is the same and some might even argue that personal testimony might be the greater witness.

Commissioner Raymond Finger

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Is the Salvation Army a religion or a mix of denominations?

The short answer to this question is 'no'. The Salvation Army is not a religion nor is it a mix of denominations.

The Salvos stand independently as a denomination in the Christian church alongside other churches, for example, the Anglican, Baptist and Uniting church.

In the 1860s William Booth, the Salvos' founder, began reaching out to the masses living in poverty in London.

He preached that there was a God who could transform their lives and show them a new way. He fed them, prayed with them and thousands of people's lives were changed.

Booth, a Methodist minister, tried to introduce his converts to local Methodist churches, but the wider church at the time had lost much of its vision for what was then considered the underclasses, and would not accept them.

In less than 20 years, while it had not been his initial goal, he established a new denomination of the Christian church—The Salvation Army. Today, the Army upholds the cross of Christ and serves suffering humanity worldwide in 118 countries.

A good word to describe a denomination of the church is 'community'. The Salvos, like other churches, is a community of people that meets together in local neighbourhoods, regions or centres.

They worship God together; nurture faith, wholeness and integrity of life in their own lives and in the lives of others; and, in keeping with the 'DNA' of the Army, their faith shows itself in service to people with all kinds of material, emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

The Salvation Army is a great place to belong and I encourage you to go and find this out for yourself. Why not start with our website: salvos.org.au or salvationarmy.org.au?

Colonel James Condon

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Why don't Salvo's drink alcohol?

In 1884 the co-founder of The Salvation Army, Catherine Booth, published an article entitled 'Practical Religion'.

In this document she presented her argument for total abstinence on the part of religious workers associated with The Salvation Army.

In those days, cheap alcoholic drinks were available to the poor of East London. Catherine and her husband, William, saw much hardship and squalor as families were engulfed in an ever-downward cycle of misery, in part caused by alcoholism. Their hearts ached for these people.

Many were helped out of those difficult circumstances and, today, the Salvation Army continues to help people struggling with addictive behaviour. Each day The Salvation Army works with thousands of people all over the world who need to overcome alcoholism to allow them to live life more abundantly.

The Salvos feel that if they seek to assist people whose lives have been damaged by alcohol, then they should live a life of total abstinence as an example in personal discipline.

It's hardly appropriate for a Salvo to work towards helping someone overcome their alcoholism, then go home or to a pub and drink alcohol.

In consideration of the movement's background, people who are enrolled as members (soldiers) of a Salvation Army church (corps) believe that—as God has changed their lives—they need to demonstrate this change and take personal responsibility by refraining from the use of an addictive substance such as alcohol.

We don't condemn those who drink alcohol. Clearly an occasional social drink does not inevitably mean someone is or is becoming an alcoholic.

However, we believe that if we are seeking to help those addicted to its use, the integrity of our message is best demonstrated by our own example of total abstinence.

Commissioner Les Strong

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Why do Salvos wear uniforms?

In the foundation days of The Salvation Army (The Christian Mission), William and Catherine Booth, co-founders , George Scott Railton and Bramwell Booth were moved to call this new Mission an Army.  The volunteers and ministers were called “Troops”.  By 1878, the whole movement had adopted military terminology and dress.

The uniform of the day was used to equialize the new members who came from all places in society,  It was also used to unify them in cause and commitment.  Knowing that their mission was to engage in spiritual warfare,  the uniform became a symbol of a visual reminder that they had accepted the call to Christ.  Underneath the uniform was a heart committed to God and a willingness to use their hands to reach humanity.

The Salvation Army uniform is one of the recognizable icons of the world.  This uniform shows itself in the pulpit, on the street corner, in hospitals and nursing homes.  It served food at Ground Zero in New York and at the floods and fires in Australia.

The uniform is the clerical garb of The Salvation Army officer (ordained minister) and is also worn by soldiers (local corps members),  It is a symbol to declare our faith to everyone and to make ourselves available for service.

Commissioner Carolyn Knaggs

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How many Salvos churches and shops are in Australia?

The Salvation Army has churches in every state and territory of Australia. Queensland has 51, New South Wales and ACT 114, the Northern Territory 4, Western Australia 29, South Australia 31, Tasmania 14 and Victoria 107. We conduct Christian worship services on Sundays and also throughout the week.

Some services are in Chinese, Korean and Indigenous languages, but anyone is most welcome to visit any of our churches and experience our worship and service.

A great variety of other programs for all age groups is offered throughout the week.

The Salvation Army has two types of stores: those managed by Salvos Stores and those managed by the local church.

Salvos stores create an environment in keeping with the Salvation Army mission, provide financial resources for the Salvation Army and child sponsorship programs.

The stores provide customers with p0re-loved and new goods at an affordable price. Pre-loved goods include high-quality furniture, clothing and homeware. Brand-new products include household cleaning and personal care products and various Christmas gifts.

Church-managed and church-based stores also promote the Army's mission and provide an avenue for people to give voluntary service. They also provide vital financial support for the churches to carry out their mission to serve the disadvantaged and provide goods at affordable prices.

Around Australia there is a total of 293 Salvo Stores and 243 church-based Stores.

Why not visit a Salvos Store and discover the opportunities for yourself?

Lieut-Colonel Jan Condon

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What is pastoral care?

Pastoral care is the compassionate caring ministry of spiritual leaders for people. It can involve anything from showing personal interest to counseling.

It is a ministry of listening.  Showing a pastoral interest in others means becoming an active listener. Someone has said that t is the most powerful form of listening. Why? Because it sends a signal that you're interested in and absorbing what the other person is saying.

It is also a ministry of encouragement. It is letting people know that they are supported personally and in prayer.  Such caring is focused on the person's behavior, emotional health and spiritual wellness.  In this sense, it is a holistic ministry, encouraging people to live life to the full, reach their potential and face life with hope.

The concept of pastor comes from the image of the shepherd who cares for the sheep, protecting, strengthening the weak, tending to their needs, bring refreshment and restoration.  Psalm 23 explains pastoral care as well as any passage in the Bible.

Then we come to the New Testament and see pastoral care modeled most perfectly by Jesus.  All the best we can say about pastoral care is what we see in the life of Jesus.  But he takes pastoral care to its heights, when it involves personal sacrifice.  The bible speaks of him as the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.  (John 10).  If you want the clearest most accurate definition of pastoral care, read the gospels, look at Jesus.

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Who is Eva Burrows?

The Salvation Army began in 1878 and, at any stage, has only one world leader. This person, in accordance with the para-military style of the movement, is known as the General. Eva Burrows is an Australian woman who became the 13th General of The Salvation Army.

Born in Newcastle, NSW on 15 September 1929, Eva is the daughter of Salvation Army officer (minister) parents.

She gained a Bachelor of Arts at Queensland University before being called to become a Salvation Army officer. After doing her ministry training in London, she was commissioned as a Salvation Army officer in 1951.

As a young Salvo, Eva sensed a compelling call to work in Africa, and her first appointment was as an officer/teacher at the Howard Institute, a large mission station in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The next few decades saw Eva serve the Salvos in England, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Scotland and Australia.

In 1986 the international leaders of The Salvation Army formed what is known as the 'High Council' and elected Eva to become General. She took office on 9 July 1986 and retired in July 1993

As General, Eva Burrows visited more than 50 countries and made contact with people at all levels of society, from hostel residents to heads of state and government. It was her easy demeanour with others that saw her bestowed with the title of 'the people's General'.

In 'retirement', General Burrows continues to be a much sought-after speaker and advisor at international level, while enjoying being part of a local congregation with The Salvation Army in Melbourne.

Read more about Eva Burrows

Commissioner Coral Strong

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Are Salvos concerned about the environment?

As Christians, the Salvos consider this question from at least two perspectives.

The first is that we believe that God created the world and the Bible says that God saw it was good. God also gave the world to people to inhabit and enjoy. He did not give it to us to destroy, but to propagate and use for our benefit.

God considered people worthy to rule over the land and animals he created. This includes protecting it and using it for the common good of all.

Salvos are also concerned about the environment because we are stewards of all we have. When God gave people the right to rule over the earth, he intended that we care for it as if it were our own property.

The second Salvo perspective is concern for the environment on behalf of others and future generations. A true Christian response is one that cares about others before self and this includes our care of the environment. We want to protect it for others to enjoy long after we have died. This demonstrates our love and care for others and also respect for our creator God who made this beautiful world.

So, yes, the Salvos are concerned about the environment because God, our creator, has entrusted the world to us, and because we want to preserve the earth for future generations to experience as God intended.

Lieut-Colonel Jan Condon

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What is the Salvo position on euthanasia?

In the teachings of Jesus, Salvos see that he placed high value on individuals, including children, the sick, blind and lame. Every life is important to God and is a gift from God.

Since we were created in his image, we believe it is our responsibility to care for our body while we have life and breath.

For this reason, The Salvation Army does not condone any activity that shortens or takes away the life of any human, with or without medical assistance.

In non-emergency situations, medical workers have a responsibility to ensure that patients clearly understand the likely benefit of treatment offered as well as any possible risks or cost to quality of life. The patient is then able to make informed decisions regarding the management of their situation.

If a patient refuses to undergo treatment, we do not regard this as the same as deliberately sanctioning death. What we oppose is any intervention to take the life of another.

Palliative care is available for people suffering terminal illnesses and medication is available to help manage pain. We see every human being as worthy of the dignity that Jesus placed on individuals.

The Salvation Army accepts that where brain death, as defined by the relevant authorities, has already occurred, the next of kin is justified in agreeing with medical advice to terminate life support systems. But while there is life, we believe that no-one has the right to take that life from an individual.

For family and friends our role is to help loved ones manage their pain so they can be as comfortable as possible until they leave this life behind.

Lieut-Colonel James Condon

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