Just a quick follow-up to my last post, “When did The Salvation Army become a church?” I was arguing that the SA started to “function” as a church from a very early date – once its members stopped finding their spiritual home and nurture elsewhere.
Thanks to the kind staff at the Salvation Army International Heritage Centre, I’ve been reading through a scanned-image copy of the 1870 Doctrines and Rules of The Christian Mission.
This document was endorsed by the first “General Conference” of The Christian Misison, which met in November 1870, and marked the transition of the movement into a Methodist-style polity. This lasted until 1878 when the switch was made to a military-style government, although by then the role of Conference had already been minimized by Booth.
To get back to the 1870 Doctrines and Rules: I find it interesting that under “Membership,” rule V.17 states:
Persons belonging to other churches seeking membership with us shall be admitted on presentation of their note of transfer, if such can be obtained.
The reference to transfer from “other churches” implies that the members of The Christian Mission, at that time, saw themselves as a “church,” or at least the equivalent of a church on the issue of church membership.
Although this document was later replaced by the 1875 and 1878 Deed Polls, it is an interesting window on a mission that was already dealing with movement / church tensions.