Clifton named 18th General

High Council 2006

The 2006 High Council has chosen Commissioner Shaw Clifton—currently territorial commander, United Kingdom and Ireland—to be the next General of The Salvation Army.

The announcement came on Saturday 28 January, day nine of the High Council’s deliberations at Sunbury Court, The Salvation Army’s conference center just outside London.

Commissioner Clifton will become the movement’s world leader on the retirement of General John Larsson at midnight on 1 April, General Larsson’s 68th birthday.

The result of the election was announced by Commissioner W. Todd Bassett, president of the 2006 High Council. General Larsson, who traveled to Sunbury Court to be present for the public announcement, having taken no part in the High Council, in line with its rules, then spoke “on behalf of Salvationists worldwide,” many of whom were watching the occasion on a live web cast.

“I want to say what a joy it is to come back into this fellowship and to know that I am addressing the broader fellowship of Salvationists around the world. We welcome our new leaders, the General-elect Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton. We thank God for them. We thank God that he has prepared them through the years. We thank God for all the candidates and now you have emerged as God’s chosen one. I’d like everyone around the world and those with us here to greet the General-elect and the commissioner.”

The General-elect then spoke words of appreciation for the High Council.

“Thank you General Larsson and we thank you for your presence. I want to thank God for blessing us in the High Council; it has been wonderful to be here—a wonderful experience just to be in the room together. God has been in our midst every minute—by his Spirit, leading us, prompting us—pushing us on—holding us back. We have heard many voices in the High Council, voices from around the world—and among those voices has been a voice from above. God has been in our midst.

We thank all who have been praying for the High Council around the globe. The Army is still part of the miracle of God. I’d like to read a verse from a song.”

He then read song #475 from The Salvation Army Song Book—words and music by Richard Slater:

And is it so? A gift from me
Dost thou, dear Lord, request?
Then speak thy will, whate’er it be:
Obeying, I am blessed.

I have not much to give thee, Lord,
For that great love which made thee mine:
I have not much to give thee, Lord,
But all I have is thine.

He then asked the assembled members of the High Council to join him in that chorus.

“That is my simple but profound life changing pledge in this sacred moment,” Clifton said as the final words faded. “I have not much to give thee, Lord, but all—all I have is thine.

“We thank all who have been praying for the High Council—wings of prayer from all over the globe—all who are praying. The members of the High Council join us in thanking you.

“The Salvation Army is still a wonderful miracle of a mighty God. We are all part of that on-going and growing miracle of God. He will go on, as the General has inspired us in recent years, doing a new thing according to his will and purpose.

“I want to say to the Salvationists of the world—God is in you. He’ll never let you down. He will keep you faithful. He will make you fruitful for his kingdom of grand and life and forgiveness and freedom from sin.

“Salvationists of the world—be faithful—be true, and God will reap a wonderful harvest in you. Then, one day, we shall rejoice with him in heaven.”

Commissioner Phillip Swyers stated, “The High Council brought the world to the table where the spirit of God spoke to all of us in a real way. There was a oneness to reach the world for Christ. God’s choice of the General-elect, Commissioner Shaw Clifton, was the right person for all the right reasons. May his blessings be revealed all around the world through our new General.”

Commissioner Pat Swyers stated, “ ‘They shall come from the East, they shall come from the West, and sit down in the Kingdom of God,’ rang out as in one voice when the members of the 2006 High Council joined heart and spirit for the express purpose of seeking God’s will for our Army. We were uplifted and blessed by the assurance of the many prayers from around the globe. Thank God for the Salvation Army and for our General-elect. We thank God for the privilege of representing our great Western Territory and we return home singing deep in our hearts, ‘The world for God, I give my heart, I will do my part.’”

Following the announcement, made in the High Council chamber, Indian and African members of the High Council hung a traditional garland and sash around the neck of the Army’s new General-elect, and bouquets of flowers were presented to Commissioners Shaw and Helen Clifton by 11-year-old twins Jake and Jez Thomas, junior soldiers at Staines Corps—the nearest corps to Sunbury Court.

Five members of the High Council had accepted nomination for the office of General: Commissioners Shaw Clifton, Israel L. Gaither, Hasse Kjellgren, Carl Lydholm and Christine MacMillan. Two other members—Commissioners Phillip Needham and Linda Bond—were nominated but declined to stand for election.

At the conclusion of the balloting process Commissioner Clifton was declared General-elect. The public announcement was made a short while later, after private moments inside the High Council chamber.

Clifton is aged 60. He became an officer from Edmonton Corps, in the then British Territory, in 1973. He has served in his home territory, at International Headquarters, in Zimbabwe, the USA, Pakistan (as territorial commander) and New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga (again as territorial commander). He was appointed territorial commander, United Kingdom and Ireland, in June 2004.

Changes in international appointments made necessary by the election of Commissioner Clifton as General will be announced in due course.

The public welcome to the new General will take place in Kensington Town Hall, London, on Saturday 8 April at 4 p.m.
– Colonel Michael Marvell contributed to this article.

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