An abundance of leaders

17th High Council leaves behind a number of “firsts.”

Western Territorial Commander Commissioner James Knaggs was elected President of the 17th High Council—he was also nominated for General but declined.

Throughout the High Council, events unfolded dramatically, creating a number of firsts in Salvation Army history. With 109 members, this High Council was the largest ever, and included 57 women and 52 men—the first time women have outnumbered men. This group of leaders also put forth the largest number of candidates to stand for election as General.

When original High Council President Commissioner William Francis declared himself a candidate for General, he was required to step aside from the presidency. Vice-President Commissioner Betty Matear assumed the position for a brief time, before she too stood down since her husband was a candidate.

This unprecedented situation—both the President and Vice-President stepping down—required a suspension of the Orders of Procedures to allow for new elections. Knaggs was elected President; Colonel Birgitte Brekke was elected Vice-President.

In reflection, Knaggs said: “We were honored to join the nations of The Salvation Army to elect the 19th General of our beloved movement. Notable among the members were the eight commissioners originally commissioned in the Western Territory USA [the Bells, Burgers, Hodders and Seilers]. We sought the will of God and will support General-Elect Linda Bond as she takes office in April. We too celebrate the service of General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton as they enter honored retirement.”

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