Gowans and Larsson Together Again
Gowans Targets New ‘Poor’
In interviews with London newspapers, General-elect John Gowans has indicated both concern for and a commitment to confronting a new kind of poverty. It is found often within the middle class. “We need to re-emphasize the basic thing the Army is supposed to do, which is to save souls,” Gowans said. “We have always saved wife-beaters, people addicted to the bottle and burglars, but now there are people who need saving from universal demons such as materialism, apathy and fatalism.
Recalling that it’s more difficult for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to fit through the eye of the needle, Gowans said: “The call of God’s Army is to embrace the affluent but miserable–people who are bored stiff with life. There are people who believe the only thing that matters is a bigger house and a bigger car and they can be satisfied. We need to save them from that blind alley.”
Making it clear that the Army has no intention to abandon its commitment to soup kitchens and other programs for people in abject poverty, Gowans noted that the Army now offers a range of services that cater to the well-off–not the least of which is financial advice. “It’s a Christian kindness and a Christlike act to help people get their money sorted,” he said.
Throughout Gowans’ entire career he has sought to keep the Army relevant to society in the way the founder, William Booth, did. Using stage drama, musicals, radio commentary, and television programming he has presented the Gospel in innovative ways. He is determined to modernize the Army and rid it of its “quaint, Victorian ways.” While leading the Army in the United Kingdom Territory, he has also sought to make the uniform relevant–attempting to make them less militaristic and intimidating. He commissioned a well-known fashion designer to update the uniforms. “People feel that The Salvation Army is rather a quaint and narrow secret sect,” he said. “We need to present a more friendly, cheerful, modern image.”
Gowans assumes his new responsibilities upon the retirement of General Paul A. Rader in late July.
Larsson Appointed Chief of Staff
The creative, committed, and competent team of Gowans and Larsson re-unites at International Headquarters with the appointment of Commissioner John Larsson to be Chief-of-the-Staff by General-elect John Gowans. Larsson will assume this responsibility upon the retirement of the current Chief, Commissioner Earle Maxwell.
“Commissioner Larsson has been blessed with all the gifts that I lack myself,” Gowans said, “and I am confident that the duet will be both harmonious and helpful to the Army. Commissioner Freda Larsson will make her own valued contribution to the new team now being formed.
Gowans’ and Larsson’s names have been tightly linked over the years with the creation of musicals based on Salvation Army plots. Larsson wrote the music while Gowans wrote the lyrics.