General Shaw Clifton wrote in his New Year 2010 Pastoral letter... “This season of new beginnings allows us to place before the Lord also the hopes we have in our hearts concerning our daily work. Many of you reading this are Salvation Army officers making plans for the spiritual advancement of those you lead and those you serve in Christ's name. I say to you, 'May God bless those plans, those sacred ambitions for the souls of others.'
Today, just three years later, more than 400 of the officers addressed in that Pastoral letter are no longer officers, having giving up their sacred ambitions in the role of SA officers.
Concurrently, the dearth in the number of accepted Cadets in western countries, coupled with the mandated retirement of officers at ages directed by law or SA regulations, casts a troublesome providence when witnessing the increased shortage of officers for today and the future, especially in western world territories.
"If it is important to you, you will find a way.
If not, you will find an excuse! ."
“We need Officers ...
Officership by its nature is about availability and mobility... We need people who are available. So the more officers the better!
General Linda Bond
The two most common reasons for ‘leaving the dear old flag’ remain, for married officers, separation and divorce. And, for single officers the resignations are most common in order to marry. If the army had been less fixated on maintaining antiquated regulations once suited to an up-start Victorian era church-army, and instead moved with the times a few decades ago, several thousand officers might well have remained “for life!”
After repeated excuses and stalling the Single Spouse Officer provision (SSO) was approved in select territories135 years subsequent to the organization’s grounding. Other territories enacted similar loosely translated initiatives of their own. The provision sought to attract SA soldiers who were prepared to abide by SA regulations and lifestyles, and to become supportive partners in ministry with their officer spouse. It was expected that the non-officer spouse understood well the nature of the spiritual covenant entered into by the officer spouse, and their own commitment, principally as a loose contract, or letter of agreement, with The Salvation Army.
This significant regulation change, introduced just over a decade ago in several territories to combat the attrition rates, has met with modest success at best, relative to the actual increase in the number of active officers; approximately 100 worldwide, with 60 or so in the UKT. In the NZ and Fiji Territory the Provision struggled, staggered and stumbled for 7 years before being canceled with just one SSO couple still actively serving.
Former SA Officer
Birkenhead Corps, UKIT