The Salvation Army is one of the oldest humanitarian organizations. Of English and Protestant origin, she combines spiritual and social mission. Its originality lies in its mode of organization, which is inspired by the military model.
An army of peace
The Salvation Army was born in the midst of the industrial revolution at the end of the 19th century. It was founded on July 5, 1865 by the British Methodist pastor William Booth (1829-1912), shocked by the sight of the working-class crowds that crowd into the poor neighborhoods of east London. It was called, initially, the East London Christian Mission, to become in 1878 The Salvation Army (Salvation Army).
Its original motto " Soup. Soap. Salvation (Soup. Soap. Hi) reflects the deep thought of this pragmatic pastor. Born into a poor family, Booth started working at the age of 13, after a basic education. Self-taught, he reads a lot and trains himself in writing, he is convinced that change does not take place at the level of the masses, but in each individual. Social, political and economic progress must come from a profound transformation of Man by himself, "through the power of the Gospel". However, he knows that before talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, we must be able to offer him decent living conditions on Earth.
Spiritual and temporal
Present in France from 1881, two structures make up the Salvation Army: the Congregation (“With God, with the other, with oneself”), in charge of the spiritual mission, and the Foundation (“Help, Support, Reconstruct »), Responsible for the social mission. Its organization is based on a military model, with hierarchy, discipline, uniform and regulations. She intervenes wherever the need demands and where her help is accepted. Its international headquarters are based in London, under the authority of a general who coordinates action at the global level and sets broad guidelines. Each territory has a national headquarters. In 2014, it is an international structure, in more than 120 countries, which brings together 2.5 million Salvationists around the world.
- The Salvation Army, by Raymond Delcourt. PUF, 1992.
- The Salvation Army in France.