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Another Response - Why is the Salvation Army so traditional? I love the people, the community, the body… but the uniforms are intimidating.

In addition to Keith's answer, here's Allison's...
Allison Downey; Divisional Children’s Ministries Secretary in Ontario Central East says…
“You should know, first and foremost, that you are not alone in your way of thinking.  There are many people in The Salvation Army, of all generations, that are wrestling with these same questions every day, myself included.  While I think it is important for us to remember and honour our tradition by understanding and valuing the wearing of the uniform, I also think there are many Salvation Army churches that are being true to The Salvation Army's mission and identity without wearing the uniform.  I embrace and celebrate both expressions and the diversity that we are experiencing today.   I agree with you that we need to be actively seeking God's direction in this period of transition and my prayer is that people like you, apostles who cannot rest with the status quo, will help guide us into a new day.“
Hopefully these answers help you sort through some of your own thoughts and feelings. Feel free to track Keith or Allison down for further conversation. Keith_Pike@can.salvationarmy.org and Allison_Downey@can.salvationarmy.org
We’re also here to chat with too. Use the live chat feature on the site or fire us an email. Keep asking and wrestling through your questions!

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Why is the Salvation Army so traditional? I love the people, the community, the body… but the uniforms are intimidating. I think that maybe it's time to move ahead into transition, contemporary worship, more charismatic and Holy Spirit leading rather than what feels like military service. to be cont

Love the honesty of your question! We asked a couple others to speak into the answer for this one…
Keith Pike; Territorial Youth Secretary says…
Why is the Salvation Army so traditional?
“Traditions are a way for people to stay connected to their past. Families, communities and The Salvation Army all have traditions. Traditions help us to honour and celebrate what has been. The challenge for us is to not allow the honouring of our past to dictate, or detract from our future. Our traditions are a helpful way for us to never forget that we have been raised by God as a voice for those who cant seem to be heard in our world today. This is a tradition we wouldn't want to loose. We also have a tradition of creating community for those who can't seem to find a home. Our churches have been places that have  been welcoming for  people who wouldn't have been accepted anywhere else.
As for uniforms, they are nothing more than a type of clothing worn by members of an organization while participating in that organization's activity. If I work at Starbucks or played on a hockey team, my uniform would identify me with the people I work for or signify that I belong on a team. Our uniform helps to identify to the world that we belong to Jesus Christ and that we are here to be a witness to His life in the world. If someone is in need they immediately know that my uniform signifies that I am there to help them. My uniform also serves to remind me that I belong to a fellowship of believers in my community, country and throughout the world. Just last week I was reminded of this when I saw news coverage from the Philippines and on the news broadcast there was a man in a Salvation Army uniform helping to bring aid to his devastated country. The uniform is not intended to separate us from the world, but to remind the world that there are people living in this world that still see themselves as their brothers keeper. I believe we have a responsibility to be a visible presence of God's love and mercy in our world and the uniform helps us to do that. You mention that the uniform is intimidating, I know for some they may find any uniform intimidating but for the vast majority of people in need a uniform signifies rescue, relief, help, or hope from whatever situation they find themselves. For the lost of our world I'm willing to make a few feel uncomfortable by my uniform if it helps the lost find their way.
Thanks again for your question...I hope we have a chance to continue the conversation.”

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Favorite thing about send the fire?

That we get to facilitate the online mtg space & conversation that gathers and engages the entire younger tribe across our territory (Canada & Bermuda). It's the one place where everyone can connect and belong regardless of where you're from (big city or small, large church or small, youth group or no youth group).
(btw... we're launching a newly designed site soon!)
Curious, what's your fave thing about SendTheFire?

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Why doesn't the SA do baptisms and communion?

Great Q! Many others prob wonder too. Some background info...
Baptism & Communion(the Lord's Supper) are referred to in the Christian church as sacraments. These sacraments are rituals or ceremonies that are regularly practiced as part of the life of the Christian community and serve as outward signs of the inward grace (because of Christ's death & resurrection) acting in our souls.
Read the official Salvation Army response in the Handbook of Doctrine (pg 269) here - https://www.salvationist.org/extranet_main.nsf/vw_sublinks/13F61BFC2A27F32C8025770400032E16?openDocument
Our summary:
- the sacraments are an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace.
- Jesus is the one true sacrament (the only way we come to God and how the grace of God comes to us)
- as Christians, we're a sacramental community meaning all the aspects of how we live our lives (school, work, fun stuff…) centre on Jesus and we can participate with God and show grace to others via our words and how we live.
- early in Army history, God led them to not observe baptism and Communion as rituals cuz the danger is that people can trust in the ritual instead of Christ's death and resurrection (though there's also a danger that not participating can lead one to ignore or minimize the grace God offers us through Christ).
- because of this stance, the Army believes God has called us to be distinctive people in the Church communicating that 'no particular outward observance is necessary to inward grace.'
- the Army observes the sacraments by inviting Christ to all life's significant events and ceremonies (dinners, birth celebration, weddings, anniversaries…)
- the Army confesses one sacramental meal, not administered ritually, but presided over by Christ himself at any table where his is received and honoured.
So… perhaps the bottom line is that The Salvation Army would say that practicing the sacraments isn't wrong but that it's not necessary to experience God's grace and could actually be unhelpful to some.
Make sense? Hopefully this answers your question!
p.m. us on Facebook or send us an email if you want to chat further, k?!

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My friend is going to try coming to my corps with me. But one of his questions was, what makes the Salvation Army different from other Christian churches. Do you have any suggestions on how I could answer that question???

Great Q! Your answer can vary depending on what community/province you live in, what your local expression is like when it gathers, what your friend means by the question (how is the service diff't OR how is the body diff't), what 'other churches' they are referring to (Catholic, Baptist) and what their faith background or understanding is.
Assuming they're asking about the 'Sunday gathering' then you might talk about having a brass band (depending on your community) and members wearing uniforms.
Assuming they're talking about the body, one thing that is pretty different from many others is that we have a particular purpose by God for the marginalized of society (heart to God, hand to man; soup, soap, salvation) and we don't practice communion and baptism as part of our gatherings.
There's much more that could be said but again, it depends on your context. Hope this helps?! If not, post another question being more specific or fire us a private message!

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