from the desk of…The High Council 2013
By James Knaggs, Commissioner
Recently, Carolyn and I were appointed to the 18th High Council of The Salvation Army and attended as required by the Orders and Regulations of The Salvation Army. The occasion was advanced on the basis of the retirement of General Linda Bond (Ret.), who chose to do so for personal reasons. We pray that her decision and her retirement are blessed by God even in these days. She served well for over 44 years as a leader through the ranks, becoming our 19th General in the journey. She also capably led the Western Territory’s 2012 Congress known as The Gathering.
Within the last year, Bond appointed then Commissioner André Cox as the Chief of the Staff in succession to Commissioner Barry Swanson who had accepted an appointment as the Territorial Commander of the USA Eastern Territory. It was, then, Cox who dutifully called for the High Council to meet, and so we did late in the month of July in London, England, as required again by Salvation Army Orders and Regulations. The specific location turned out to be the Renaissance Hotel at Heathrow Airport as the customary location, Sunbury Court, was under renovation.
A total of 118 international leaders were called, of which 117 were able to attend. A single member was unable to attend due to illness, being on official sick leave.
Amazingly, even with short notice, all details came together nicely for a pre-High Council meeting of the leaders for just a few days. Three or four of the members were unable to arrive until the day of the High Council due to unavoidable conflicts in their schedules.
The early meetings were a blessing, containing discussion in small groups about matters of international importance and providing an opportunity for each member to acquaint themselves with the other members. Since the last High Council just over two years prior, almost half of the members at this High Council were first-time participants.
One of the beautiful opportunities we shared was to sit under the leadership of Commissioner Keith Banks, who led worship on the Sunday of our experience. His ministry was most appropriate as the presence of God was undeniable among us.
Here’s where the description of the experience changes from detailed to philosophical. There seems to be two approaches to the election of a General that define the actions of a High Council. Firstly, we meet to discern God’s choice for the movement, and believe that the General elected is absolutely God’s person for the hour. The second approach is that we meet together in one accord to elect who we believe to be the best person for the hour, and ask God to anoint our choice with his blessing.
I would simply ask that if the former approach is right, why would we have nominated candidates, delivered speeches and answered questions? Why wouldn’t we go to our knees and simply petition God for such holy discernment? Then, considering the holy membership present, wouldn’t we come to a more clearly unanimous determination?
If the latter approach is correct, are we any less compelled to follow this leader with loyalty, commitment and faithfulness? I leave it for you to conclude.
Either way, we have a glorious God-inspired movement known as The Salvation Army with a new international leader, General André Cox, clearly chosen by the High Council and anointed by God to lead us forward. May your prayers and mine be heard in the heavens above for the advancement of the kingdom under his leadership. Hallelujah!