High Council salutes Larssons
General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson salute during the welcome of the High Council. Photo by Adam Greene
Worldwide Salvation Army leaders met in London for the 2006 High Council to select the Army’s next General and to salute General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson who retire April 1. Representing the Western Territory were Commissioners Philip and Patricia Swyers, territorial leaders, and Colonel Olin Hogan, leader of the Mexico Territory. U.S. National Commander Commissioner W. Todd Bassett was elected president of the proceedings.
Members of the High Council saluted the service of General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson at the Welcome to the High Council. This was the first time the General’s farewell meeting was united with the welcome to the High Council.
The highpoint of the meeting was a musical and visual salute created by their two sons. Kevin Larsson (USA Western) conducted massed songsters from Bromley, Cambridge, Norwich, Peterborough, Staines and Stowmarket in a piece he had arranged for the occasion based on his father’s compositions. Synchronised with the music, Karl Larsson (USA Western) created a video featuring the life and service of General John and Commissioner Freda. With access to the family archives, as well as pictures from every official visit undertaken by the international leaders in the past three and a half years, the video gave an unprecedented insight into their private and public life, reflecting their humility and authentic love for people.
This was reinforced in a joint tribute given by the Chief of the Staff and Commissioner Eva Gaither who spoke of the privilege of working closely with these remarkable leaders. The Chief said: “For years to come, the Army’s mission shall reap the benefits of their legacy of service.” Commissioner Eva Gaither said: “General John and Commissioner Freda, you are proof that God always provides the right man and the right woman at the right time.”
Commissioner Larsson responded with heartfelt words of thanks—to family and friends for their example, prayers and support; to The Salvation Army for “the opportunity to serve”; to the international fellowship of Salvationists for their prayers and friendship; and, most of all, to God who “has made this all possible.” Commissioner Freda admitted: “I am so glad the day came when I said yes to God. I never imagined what the future held—but I am glad I said yes!”
General Larsson said his personal testimony was “saying yes to God and yes to life” and this will still be his intention in the future. The General’s message was based on the words of Jesus: “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62, NIV). Using one of the most powerful Gowans/Larsson songs, “I’ll Not Turn Back,” the General challenged individuals never to turn back from being who God wants us to be.
In the presence of all the Army’s senior leaders the General challenged The Salvation Army corporately not to turn back and settle down: “Don’t forget about aggressive Christianity, don’t forget about going for souls and going for the worst, don’t forget about being a radical force for good, standing up for what is wrong; don’t trust in The Army’s good name; don’t trust in pounds or dollars.”
“The Salvation Army,” the General said, “must never turn back, whatever it may cost, we’re called to love and serve the lost. More than not turning back from being what God called us to be, we must press on, in the words of Paul, “press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenwards in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
—Excerpted from an International Headquarters news release by Captain Dean Pallant