Salvation Army Terminology

Are you new to The Salvation Army and finding the terminology a bit confusing…? You aren’t alone!

Many of the terms in The Salvation Army have come about because of the militaristic nature of our organisation. Our founders, William and Catherine Booth envisioned an army directed by God which would fight for the salvation of souls.

Here are some of the common ones you may hear or things you may see on a Sunday… hopefully it will now feel less confusing! If you do have a question, please feel free to ask anyone from our Church. They will be more than happy to help answer it.


Corps Officers (CO’s): The minister/minsters in charge of a Corps (Church). Our current Corps Officers are Majors David and Jane Alton. Corps are often jointly led by a Husband and Wife (who are both officers), an individual officer or leadership may be shared between officers.

Corps Sergeant Major (CSM): A lay leader who helps the Corps Officer with the running of the Corps. Our CSM is Nigel Bishop. You’ll often find Nigel manning the sound desk at the back of the hall during Sunday meetings.

Young People’s Sergeant Major (YPSM): A lay leader who runs the children’s programme within the Corps. Our YPSM is Julie Forsyth but she’s nothing like a Sergeant Major, more like a loveable auntie!

Bandmaster (BM): The musical leader of our adult band. Boscombe Salvation Army Band is led by Bandmaster Dr Howard J. Evans.

Songster Leader (SL): The musical leader of our adult choir. Boscombe Salvation Army Songsters are led by Songster Leader Helen Main.

Young People’s Band Leader (YPBL): The musical leader of our junior band. Our YP Band Leader is Fraser Smith.

Young People’s Singing Company Leader (YPSCL): The musical leader of our junior choir. Our Singing Company Leader is Katie Whittingham.

The General: The worldwide leader of The Salvation Army. Our current leader is General Brian Peddle (pictured) and he is the 21st General of The Salvation Army. The original “General” of the Salvation Army was William Booth, right back at the very beginning – over 150 years ago!

Junior Soldier: A junior member of The Salvation Army who has made their commitment public. You’ll usually see Junior Soldiers wearing a less formal uniform, a bit like a school uniform because they have chosen to, consisting of a sweatshirt and a polo shirt. Not all children are Junior Soldiers as the decision is down to them, but all are welcome.

Senior Soldier: An adult member of The Salvation Army. The majority of “Senior Soldiers” wear the globally recognised Salvation Army uniform, but it’s not compulsory.

Adherent: Adherent members do not wear the uniform but have made a public commitment that The Salvation Army is their church of choice and they are sympathetic with the aims and beliefs. Many undertake responsibilities to help the Army go about its work.

Salvationist: An officer, soldier or adherent member of the Salvation Army. You do not have to be a salvationist to attend, Salvation Army meetings (church services) are open to all. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome at Boscombe Salvation Army.


Red Shield: The globally recognised branding/logo of The Salvation Army. (You can see it in our own logo.)

Salvation Army Crest: This is the symbol/emblem of The Salvation Army. Take a look at the video on this page, it will explain exactly what our crest means.

flagThe flag: Designed to symbolise the essential beliefs of the movement, and today the design is largely unchanged, no matter in which parts of the world the Army operates. The flag consists of a blue border surrounding a red background, in the centre of which is a yellow star. The Army’s motto “Blood and Fire” is also inscribed on the flag, as is usually the name of the local centre each flag belongs to.

The blue represents holiness – the holiness of God and the holy lives Christians are called to live.

The red is a reminder to Salvationists of Jesus’ blood shed when he was crucified, making it possible for us to live lives free from sin because he died.

The yellow star symbolises the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The motto reinforces this symbolism – the blood which was shed by Jesus for our sins and the fire of the Holy Spirit.

“Blood and Fire” refers to the blood of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross to save us from our sins, and the fire of the Holy Spirit.

Epaulettes: People with a sharp eye will notice that Army uniforms, while having a basic style, carry a variety of trimmings such as epaulettes and badges. These denote to fellow Salvationists whether that person is an officer or soldier, the corps they belong to and whether they carry a position of responsibility within that corps. Uniforms also vary slightly around the world in keeping with the traditions of a particular culture.

The epaulettes for our senior soldiers at Boscombe are shown below. You do not have to wear uniform to be a Salvationist. Many Corps choose a specific type of trim with a purpose in mind. The tie in this picture below has a “BB” added to it to signify Boscombe Band. Another example would be the white caps of Southsea Band because of their proximity to the sea and naval tradition.

‘S’ on uniforms: The letter ‘S’ appears on the lapels of uniforms. It stands for ‘Salvation’ and carries the meaning ‘Saved to Serve’. Usually the patch behind these is black or blue with officers having red and high ranking officers having a trim colour around the patch as well.

epauletteslapel 's'





Other terms you might hear…

Holiness Meeting: Sunday morning worship service.

Salvation Meeting: Traditional name for a Sunday evening worship service.

Open Air: A meeting held outdoors to tell others about Jesus.

Mercy Seat: Our altar and place of prayer. It’s situated at the front of the hall and usually takes the form of a long piece of wood, a bit like bench (but best to kneel rather than sit on it!). Anyone can come and pray here, usually a member of our Church will come and pray with you if you would like. It’s always open to everyone but sometimes there will be a specific invitation during a meeting, perfect if you feel the need to visit the Mercy Seat and have a chat with God.

Testimony: Telling others what God is doing in your life.

Saved: The term used when a person has accepted Jesus as his/her saviour from sin.

Articles of War: The document that a new “Senior Soldier” signs when they are publicly sworn in as a member of The Salvation Army. It’s a promise to uphold the beliefs and adhere to the principles of The Salvation Army. Check out what it says here.

Offering/collection: An opportunity (voluntary) to give to the work of the Salvation Army locally. Sometimes there will be collections for Salvation Army’s national Annual Appeal or for the Army’s work in another country.

Corps: A Salvation Army church similar in concept to that of other churches’ ‘parishes’, to share the good news about Jesus Christ and serve the community.