Crest or shield?
Crest or shield?
6 February 2019
Clearly there are strong feelings regarding which symbol – the red shield or the crest – best represents The Salvation Army.
By policy, the red shield is used for all external purposes, because it is the most recognisable Army emblem in the world.
It is known in every country in which the Army serves and represents the compassionate service that impacts the lives of people, often at the time of their greatest need.
The crest is loved by Salvationists and continues to be used internally because there is more reference to what we believe, including our faith, our doctrine and our covenant.
For different reasons and in different settings, each has its place.
So which best symbolises the Army, its message and its ministry? Which emblem best tells the Army story? Truthfully, neither of these.
If we are relying on artwork to symbolise what is great about The Salvation Army, then neither is going to accomplish what we need.
To the best of my knowledge, neither symbol has ever led someone into a saving relationship with Jesus. Neither symbol can fully tell the motivation behind our work; neither can reveal the depth of commitment that so embodies frontline ministry.
So, if not these emblems, where do we look for the best symbols of our Army? Try looking at the single officer serving alone in a small community, yet fully engaged in the lives of her people and the community.
Try looking at the long-time bandmaster known for their excellence in musicianship, but who expresses more emotion while telling of the growth and transformation in the youth they have mentored.
Try looking at the employee at the recovery services centre who can’t wait to share the good news that three residents came to faith tonight. Try looking at the Salvationist who, after reading on Facebook about a fellow Salvationist needing a kidney, gave one of hers.
Try looking at the faithful Salvos Stores volunteer who affirms the worth of all those they greet and serve. Try looking at the quiet, unassuming soldier who is always the first to welcome visitors to the corps.
Try looking at the young person who is not afraid to share their faith with friends, despite a culture that seeks to demean such belief. Try looking at the corps officers throughout your territory, who, even in the midst of challenges and hardship, still serve faithfully.
Those soldiers, employees, volunteers and adherent members are the best symbols of The Salvation Army. They are the emblems of who we are and what we do.
Let’s stop the debate between crest and shield and settle on a better representation.
Let’s each be the best symbol of The Salvation Army we can be – in the way we live, in the way we unconditionally love others, in the way we serve, in the way we invest our lives in those around us.
The crest and shield can never tell the Army story that a transformed life can tell.
Lieut-Colonel David Kelly is the Secretary for Communications in the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland Territory. This article first appeared in Salvationist (UK) magazine.