Founded in 1865 in London, England, The Salvation Army is a Christian Church dedicated to serving those persons with physcial and spiritual needs in the name of Jesus Christ without discrimination.
Although The Salvation Army is an international organization with leadership vested in the General, the very nature of its work calls for considerable national, territorial, and local autonomy. While the chain of command extends from the General, through the chief of the staff, into overseas departments, actual administration is vested in the territories within the United States and their individual community units.
The United States is divided into four territories, with headquarters in Des Plaines, Illinois; West Nyack, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; and Long Beach, California, Each territory has its own commander, holding the rank of commissioner. The National Commander and national chief secretary serve in coordinating capacities at The Salvation Army National Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
Each territory operates under the broad general policies established by International Headquarters. National policies are established by the Commissioners' Conference, composed of the four territorial commanders and presided over by the National Commander. This structure permits local leadership to respond to conditions and needs in each community, while maintaining unity on overall policies.
The basic service unit of The Salvation Army is the corps community center. Some cities may have several centers. They provide a variety of local programs, ranging from religious services and evangelistic campaigns to family counseling, day-care centers, youth activities, and general programs. The religious and social services implement the Army's purpose of preaching the gospel to effect spiritual, moral, and physical reclamation. The corps community centers within defined geographical boundaries comprise a division, with more than 40 divisions in the United States responsible to their respective territorial headquarters. Specialized social work is conducted through adult rehabilitation centers within these divisional commands.
Advisory organizations provide valuable assistance and advice. Local community leaders volunteer their efforts to help the Army in maintaining good business and professional relations. Local advisory boards review annual budgets, help coordinate programs with other agencies, and provide advise for local activities and fundraising campaigns. Other advisory organizations serve specific Salvation Army programs in similar ways. A National Advisory Board, for instance, provides guidance for programs and services throughout the United States.
Volunteers from all walks of life strongly support The Salvation Army in almost all of its activities. Their time and commitment are essential to the success of the organization. The millions of volunteers who function as part of the Army's ministry each year enhance the effectiveness of Army programs and services.