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General Salvation Army Information

How did the international Salvation Army start?

The Salvation Army was founded by William Booth, an ordained Methodist minister, and his wife Catherine in 1865. It was originally known as ‘The Christian Mission’, adopting the name ‘The Salvation Army’ in 1878. The Booths’ mission was to preach Christianity to the masses. They had a holistic mission that gave attention to people’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs. The Salvation Army soon became known for its determination to improve the situation of the poor and otherwise marginalised. The Salvation Army spread rapidly from its homeland in England to nearly all parts of the globe and is now in over 125 countries. The vision of William and Catherine Booth remains the basis of the Salvation Army’s work today.

When did the Salvation Army start in New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga?

The Salvation Army was brought to New Zealand in April 1883 by Captain George Pollard (20) and Lieutenant Edward Wright (21) who came at the request of New Zealanders impressed by good reports of the Army’s successes in England.

The first Salvation Army work was in Dunedin. By the end of the first year over 25 Salvation Army centres were established from Auckland to Invercargill. By the end of that decade, the Salvation Army was working in every town with a population of more than 1500.

The Salvation Army extended out from New Zealand to Fiji in 1973 and to Tonga in 1985.

What does The Salvation Army do?

The Salvation Army helps people in need through a wide range of community programmes.

These include food assistance, budgeting advice, like skills training, counselling, crisis and supportive accommodation, addiction services (drug, alcohol and problem gambling), chaplaincy support, employment training, chaplaincy, emergency services, and youth work.

The Salvation Army also operates churches, called ‘corps’, in cities and towns around New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. These church communities feed the soul and fuel Salvation Army mission.

Salvation Army church services are open to anyone.

What is a Salvation Army Corps?

A corps is a Salvation Army church. Each corps runs church services and associated groups as well as a variety of other activities such as social programmes and initiatives that benefit people in the surrounding community.

Anyone can become part of a Salvation Army corps.

Why does The Salvation Army sound like it is a military organisation?

The Salvation Army is organised according to a quasi-military structure. For example, its ministers are called officers. They wear uniforms and hold ranks such as captain or major.

The quasi-military structure provides a useful analogy for the work of the Salvation Army, which organises its soldiers (members) to do battle in an ongoing war against evil, injustice and oppression.

Why do Salvation Army people wear uniforms?

Some Salvation Army members wear uniforms to identify themselves as Salvationists. The uniform is a visible expression of faith that often creates opportunities for the wearer to lend a helping hand or to share their faith.

Uniforms have been an integral part of the Salvation Army since it was founded in the late 1800s.

Uniform wearing is not compulsory for Salvation Army church attendees other than officers (ministers of religion). There are variations of Salvation Army dress, from formal uniform to Salvation Army-branded casual clothing.

What are the different ranks in the Salvation Army?

Ranks in the Salvation Army range from soldier to General. The rank structure is as follows:

Soldier – a member of The Salvation Army

Cadet – a senior soldier who is training to become an officer

Lieutenant – a recently commissioned and ordained officer in their first five years of service

Captain – after 5 years of service a lieutenant is promoted to the rank of captain

Major – after 15 years of service a Captain is promoted to the rank of major

Lieut-Colonel, Colonel and Commissioner – ranks held by senior administrative staff

The General – this rank is held by the person in overall command of the Salvation Army throughout the world. The General is based at the International Headquarters of The Salvation Army in London.

What is the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is in over 120 countries and is part of the worldwide evangelical Christian church. It has its own distinctive governance and practice.

The Salvation Army is committed to spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in word and action, showing practical concern and care for all people without discrimination.

Salvation Army doctrines follow the mainstream of Christian belief and emphasise God’s saving purposes through Jesus Christ.

The Salvation Army has a quasi-military command structure under the authority of its London-based General. Its ‘fighting force’ comprises full-time officers (ministers of religion), soldiers and adherents (members), and employees.

What is the Salvation Army mission?

The international Mission Statement of the Salvation Army reads: ‘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.’

The Salvation Army in New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga describes its mission succinctly as ‘caring for people, transforming lives and reforming society by God’s power’.

> Read the full version of our mission statement


Can I have a wedding at a Salvation Army church?

Yes, Salvation Army churches are available for weddings. You don't need to be a member of the Salvation Army, but the wedding will be a Christian service.

What is a Salvation Army meeting (church service) like? Can anyone attend?

There is no single format for Salvation Army worship, although it is characterised by spontaneity, informality, participation, strong use of music, preaching of God’s word, and the encouragement to commit to ongoing spiritual growth.

All Salvation Army worship services are open to the public at any time and anyone is welcome to attend.

What kind of religion does the Salvation Army follow?

Salvation Army doctrines (Articles of Faith) closely follow the orthodox beliefs of the Protestant Church. View a detailed list of our Articles of Faith.

Does the Salvation Army push religion onto people it helps?

The Salvation Army provides a wide range of social services without any expectation or requirement that those being helped will join the Salvation Army.


Where does the money raised by donations to The Salvation Army go?

Funds go to support the Salvation Army’s social service programmes that help more than 100,000 people in New Zealand each year.

These include emergency help such as foodbanks, temporary accommodation and disaster relief, as well as supportive services that help people to break the cycle of poverty and despair, such as budgeting, counselling, addiction services and parenting help.

Will money I donate go to support religious activities?

Money raised through donations goes to support social service programmes. Salvation Army church activities are supported by the local church community.

If you would like your donation to support religious activities, then you may specify this at the time of donating.

When I make a donation can I specify that the money be used for a specific purpose?

It is possible to specify that your donation be used for a specific purpose. Call our donation freephone +64 0800 53 00 00 to discuss this option. When donating online you can specify a purpose within the 'Specific use' field on the 'Make a Donation' page. However, most donations are for unspecified purposes and help to support our wide range of social programmes.

If I make a donation to the Salvation Army, how much of it will go to help people in need?

The Salvation Army is proud of the extent to which donations are used to help people rather than to pay for administration and other associated costs. About 81 per cent of donations go to help people in need. This is one of the highest rates among New Zealand charities.

My company is looking to form a partnership with a worthy charity. Who do I talk to about this?

Contact one of our regional Public Relations Officers. They will be happy to discuss how your organisation can work with The Salvation Army to help people in need. Read some more information about Corporate Partnerships.

How is the Salvation Army funded?

The Salvation Army's social work is funded by donations, grants and public funding. There are regular public appeals throughout the year, but members of the public can donate at any time through our free phone 0800 53 00 00 or online.

Salvation Army church activities are funded by the local church community.

Why should I donate money to the Salvation Army rather than some other charity?

The Salvation Army helps more than 100,000 people in New Zealand every year. The Army’s broad range of social programmes and services helps as many people as possible. Rather than limiting itself to being a welfare agency, the Salvation Army aims to help people to help themselves.

Supporting The Salvation Army changes people’s lives for the better and helps build better communities for us all to live in.

We would welcome and value your support.

I am unable to make a financial donation right now. How else can I help?

There are so many ways to give to the Salvation Army and to those in need in your community. Check out the Giving Back area of our website to see how you can help.

Joining/Volunteering/Taking Part

How can I volunteer my time to help the Salvation Army?

We are grateful for the many people who already volunteer time to help with the work of the Salvation Army, such as in our social programmes or in Family Stores.

Contact your local Salvation Army Corps (church), centre or Family Store to find out how you can become part of our valued army of volunteers.

How do I become an Officer in The Salvation Army?

The decision to devote yourself full-time to the service of God as a Salvation Army officer (minister of religion) normally follows a period of association with the Salvation Army.

This includes becoming a member, after which time you may apply to attend the two-year officer training course. There are training schools for officers in Upper Hutt (Booth College of Mission) and in Suva, Fiji.

How do I join a Salvation Army Corps (church)?

To start with, try attending a Sunday service or other local Salvation Army activity. Talk to some the Salvation Army people attending about your interest in joining and they will be able to assist.

Becoming a member involves some commitment in terms of learning about God and Christian beliefs as well as Salvation Army practices.

Drugs & Alcohol

What help can I get help for drug and alcohol addiction?

The Salvation Army has 14 treatment centres around the country, providing free, confidential help for anyone struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. The programme will give you the opportunity to evaluate your alcohol or drug use and explore ways to bring things under control again. You will be supported, challenged and encouraged to make positive changes in your life.

How can I get help?

Simply contact your local Salvation Army Centre for information; or find your nearest Salvation Army addictions services centre; or call 0800 787 797 Alcohol Helpline or, for a service directory You may also be referred to us by another agency. Our caseworkers will assess you and your needs, to work out the best way for you to get the help you need.

How much does it cost?

The treatment programme is free for anyone who is eligible. *Conditions apply for residential services.

How long is the treatment, and do I live-in or come for the day?

Generally the residential programme is eight weeks long. This means that you will stay in our accommodation and attend the programme during the day. In some centres you can also come for day treatment, and the length of time will vary—call your local centre to find out about options in your area. Some centres provide residential treatment for parents who have young children, with a Parent and Child programme working alongside the regular programme. In addition to the longer treatment programme, a six-day methamphetamine detoxification service is also offered in some centres.

What will I be doing at the programme?

Our programme is based on your individual needs, and we’ll work with you as well as with your family and whānau, on the best treatment plan for you. At the centre, you’ll do a mixture of group work, individual counselling and the 12 Steps towards recovery. You’ll receive a range of help with things like:
• drug and alcohol education
• strategies to reduce harm from drugs and alcohol
• dealing with emotions
• communication and relationships
• problem-solving and coping strategies
• principles for maintaining your recovery
• spiritual and cultural self-awareness
• life-skills and employment training

What sorts of people will be there?

People from all walks of life attend the our programme. It is for anyone who is adversely affected by their use of drugs and alcohol.

What other addictions can The Salvation Army help with?

The Salvation Army’s problem gambling service provides free, confidential treatment. This is an outpatient service that includes counselling as you move from crisis to recovery, work with your family and whānau, and group work. Find your nearest centre, or phone 0800 654 655 for the Gambling Helpline.