BY LINDA MARKIEWICZ, MAJOR –
Twenty-three recommendations were made as a result of the Army’s Commission on Officership, with one important change affecting the entire Army world: a simplification of the officer rank system.
Officers are now commissioned as captains instead of lieutenants. The rank of lieutenant was discontinued, at least as we traditionally know it.
In the Western Territory, a Territorial Officership Commission was formed, composed of officers and soldiers from throughout the territory. After weeks of study a response was completed, approved by administration and forwarded to National and subsequently Inter-national Headquarters. These recommendations focused on the calling and “priesthood” of all believers (1 Peter 2:9) in today’s world. Perhaps the most significant was the acknowledgment that sometimes a Salvation Army soldier may be called into the ministry, but for some reason was (is) unable to fulfill a lifetime call.
The International Commission opened the door for territories to develop their own system of allowing those called to become part of the officer ministry, beyond the rank of Envoy yet enabling a term of service for a particular situation. It was determined that this newly designed officer would use the term lieutenant, with many of the privileges of officership, but not be a commissioned officer. It is to be a covenant relationship rather than a contractual relationship as envoys currently are.
The implementation of this is challenging the traditional and comfortable structure of the officer ranks. The USA Western territory is yet to have its first lieutenant under this new system as it continues to work out the details and specifics from appointments to benefits and all that officership comprises. With some trepidation the door is now open for the lieutenant system to become a reality.
What is a lieutenant?
Since the new lieutenant program is different from anything we have done before, it requires an openness to the process with allowance for further refinement as it progresses. For the sake of simplicity, the basic structure is this:
An envoy has a contractual relationship with The Salvation Army as an exempt employee with the title envoy to signify the Army’s choice to place this individual–usually in a command position of a corps, fulfilling the role of a corps officer. If an envoy is married, the spouse does not need to also be an envoy (unlike officers), but must be in sympathy with the mission, doctrine and purpose of the Army.
An officer has a covenant relationship with The Salvation Army, a calling to fulltime service solely as an ordained minister and commissioned officer. An officer agrees to forgo all secular employment in order to fulfill their call. In the case of married officers, both are trained, commissioned and ordained and share in the ministry.
A lieutenant will have a covenant relationship usually for a specified period of time, not less than three years. A lieutenant will fulfill the role of an officer, but not be ordained or commissioned. And, a lieutenant will receive all the benefits of and be subject to the same regulation as officers. If the lieutenant is married, the spouse need not be a lieutenant, but will be an active soldier.
As the current auxiliary captains are commissioned as captains, the auxiliary captain system will be phased out. It is anticipated that the above ranks will be sufficient
Why be a lieutenant?
Each of the ranks enables an individual to fulfill a spiritual call from God to proclaim the gospel and minister in his name. Sometimes, however, circumstances prohibit one from becoming a full time, lifetime officer. Each case will be considered in its own merit. A candidate for officership must be able to commit to a specified period of training prior to commissioning which will include residence training at Crestmont in the School for Officer Training.
While training will be provided for a lieutenant, it will be determined on a case-by-case basis and done while serving on the field. A lieutenant could be headed for commissioned officership, but could also be a lieutenant for a “term.” Family situations may determine the need to adopt the lieutenant route, or prior education and service. A lieutenant cannot become a commissioned officer until after a prescribed period of service (usually five years).
What is best for you?
Should you feel called to ministry in the Army, the opportunities are many. The Salvation Army continues to maintain that officership is a high and holy calling and that the traditional route through training is the preferred way, where one is commissioned and ordained.
The call to be an officer must be from God, not simply a way to have ministry as a career–and yet, the standard officer “mold” may not fit all. With the changing times, the Army has seen a need to change so that more opportunities are available for an individual to fulfill his or her calling.
One designation is not better than the other. Commissioned officers are not better than envoys or lieutenants; each has their own, specific call from God to spiritual leadership. Each requires a sacrifice for service and commitment to God and the Army. But, these “times, they are a changing” and the Army is keeping in step with changing times and is still on the forefront of Christian ministry by men and women alike.
We continue to learn from the past, address the needs of the present, and plan for the future.
If you believe God is calling you to ministry within The Salvation Army, contact your corps officer or your divisional youth secretary for detailed information about the various opportunities.