In reply to my article yesterday Emanuel Karlsten, High profile Youth leader in the Swedish Salvation army wrote this reply (I appologize to those of you who do not speak English). In short he says that he would not wear the uniform as it looks today (on account of todays uniform looking geeky) but would wear it if he like the founder (William Booth) could make it personal.

While I whole heartedly agree with emanuel that the uniform desperately nees to be updated to reflect modern times as William Booth did and I also agree with the fact that we today wear a parade or office uniform instead of a field uniform fit for battle.

But to go so far as to personalize the uniform, reshape and recolor it, I believe is missing the point. If we personalize the uniform or make the “field uniform” into any piece of clothing with the shield on it (which is the direction many territories are taking) Then we do not have a uniform but brand clothing, which in itself is not a bad thing, it puts our brandname and our logo “Out there”, it advertises the existance of the Salvation Army and it makes it “easy” to wear the SA clothing in a very non intrusive way.

{{The formal uniform is more like a fist in the eye. It states boldly and clearly that we are here on official buissness as ambassadors of Christ}} ( 2 Cor 5:20 ) and that we mean buissnes. The SA T-shirt with the shield comes in any color and or shape and therefore is no longer a uniform. We don’t look the same anymore. When a group of soldiers walk down the street it will not catch your eye, it will not make you ask yourself, what is this? It’s merely a bunch of people wearing the same brand (of some thrift store or the other).

Being unique and personal however is an important part of being a Christian, so the real dilemma is to find a way to express that and not break the uniformity. In the Guardian Angels we solved this by letting everyone put pins on the beret. Some volonteers wore a plain beret, some only thecrest of the Angels but some berets where literal works of art, with pins, brooches, patches and other adornments expressing the individuality of the uniformed Angel. We also had the choice of different BDU (battle dress uniform) trousers, some wore the plain black that where recomended while some others wore city camoflage or some other flavors of the BDU trousers.

Still walking down the street, there was no question that this was a uniform patrol of Guardian Angels. The red beret, the white T-shirt with the red crest, the red bomber jacket with the white crest, tied all the expressions of personality into a uniform whole.

I believe that the Salvation Army can change the uniform to make people like Emanuel feel individual and still make people like me feel that we are uniform. Without loosing the military metaphor or the fist in your eye bold statement of Faith as we stride down the street ready to win the world for Jesus!

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