Salvation Army Organization

This is a brief description of the organization of the Salvation Army. It is aimed at an understanding of the place of the brass band in the organization. The Brass Crest is not an official Salvation Army site (please see the disclaimer at the bottom of this page). For more information about the Salvation Army, visit

The Salvation Army can be thought of as a composite organization, with religious and service portions. The brass band is an expression of the religious part of the “Army” world, and is attached to the ecclesiastical structure.



The basic unit of the Salvation Army’s ecclesiastical structure is the corps. This unit is analogous to a parish church. Corps are usually named for their town or location, often with “Citadel” or “Temple” attached. A corps is usually commanded by a corps officer, who serves as the pastor. Sometimes, additional officers are assigned to a corps to assist the corps officer.

Corps vary widely in terms of the size of congregation. In the United States, the largest corps have four to five hundred in attendance for a Sunday morning service.

The corps serves as the sponsor for a corps band. The corps is also a primary place for elementary music instruction.

City/Area Command

Sometimes when a city, town, or other geographic area has multiple corps, a city or area command will be established. The city command assists in coordination between the various units in the city, and presents a unified front to the community at large, especially in the fields of fund-raising and public relations. A city command is generally headed by a commander. Depending on the size of the area and the number of units, the area commander may also command a unit in the area.

Some city/area commands sponsor a regional band and/or a youth band.


A division usually contains 25 to 50 corps. It is roughly equivalent to a diocese. Each division is headed by a divisional commander, supported by a headquarters staff. The divisional commander is responsible for Salvation Army operations in the division, including the appointment of corps officers.

The division to which the author’s corps belongs is the National Capital and Virginia Division. This division covers the city of Washington, DC, its Maryland suburbs (Montgomery and Prince George’s counties), and the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Divisions are grouped into territories. Eaach territory is lead by a territorial commander, supported by a headquarters staff. The territorial commander is responsible for all Salvation Army operations in the territory, including the appointment of divisional commanders. Territorial commanders are directly appointed by the General. In the USA, there is a National Headquarters. However, the National Commander in the USA does not directly control the four USA territories.

The territory to which the author’s division belongs is the USA Southern Territory. This territory is composed of 9 divisions, covering 15 states in the southeastern United States, including Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

International Headquarters

International Headquarters, located in London, England, is the top of the Salvation Army hierarchy. The international leader is the General, assisted by the Chief of the Staff and International Secretaries.

The International Staff Band (the premier Salvation Army band) and Salvationist Publishing and Supplies Ltd. (a majorpublisher of Salvation Army brass band music) were formerly administered by International Headquarters. Both organizations are now sponsored by the United Kingdom Territory.



The soldiers are the lay members of a Salvation Army congregation. The minimum age for enrollment is 14 (children between 7 and 14 years of age can be enrolled as junior soldiers). In order to be enrolled as a soldier, a person must agree to and sign a statement entitled the Articles of War. Those persons wishing to attend the Salvation Army as a church, but not commit to the Articles of War, may be enrolled as adherents.

Soldiership is generally required in order to hold any of the lay leadership positions in a corps. Participation in a corps band is usually regarded as requiring enrollment as a soldier.

Local Officer

The lay leaders of a Salvation Army corps are called the local officers. Only a soldier can be commissioned as a local officer. The corps bandmaster is a local officer. Other major local officer positions include:

  • Corps Sergeant-Major – the lead local officer postion, somewhat similar to a chief deacon or elder
  • Young People’s Sergeant Major – responsible for the youth programs of the corps, sometimes including a corps youth band
  • Corps Treasurer
  • Songster Leader – choir director


In the Salvation Army, the term officer (distinct from “local officer”) refers to an ordained person in full-time service. An officer is commissioned (ordained) after two years of training. All officers are also soldiers, and can be commissioned as a local officer in the corps that they attend.

Corps Officer

A corps officer commands a corps. The bandmaster (and all other local officers) of a corps band is responsible to the corps officer. Corps officers can be of any rank (although few corps officers are above the rank of major). The divisional commander appoints an officer to a corps. The typical corps appointment lasts from two to four years.


Area commands, divisions, and territories are led by commanders. In addition to the commander, each unit has a number of staff members with “secretary” or “director” titles who function as department heads (finance, personnel, youth, etc.). Most area commands do not have these extra positions.

A divisional commander is roughly equivalent to a bishop or an archbishop. A territorial commander is roughly equivalent to an archbishop or a cardinal.


The General is the international leader of the Salvation Army. Only one General is active at any given time. The General is assisted by the Chief of the Staff, and the International Secretaries, who are assigned by geographic areas of the world. The present general, elected in August 2013, is André Cox.