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Salvation Army leaders honored at IHQ farewell meeting

 

General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton address the staff at International Headquarters during the farewell meeting. Photo courtesy of International Headquarters

General Shaw Clifton (Ret.) received a fond farewell from the staff of International Headquarters (IHQ) as he left the building on April 1 for the final time before retirement. He thanked the officers and employees who gathered to see him go, assuring them that he and Commissioner Helen Clifton would continue to pray for them and for General Linda Bond, who took office at midnight, April 2.

A farewell meeting for the Cliftons took place on March 24; that story follows.

 

General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton—now retired—were honored at IHQ on March 24 during their farewell meeting and the presentation of retirement certificates—effective April 2. The Cliftons each recorded 38 years and 10 months of active officer service.

In his prayer, specifically for World President of Women’s Ministries (WPWM) Commissioner Clifton, IHQ Communications Section graphic designer Berni Georges thanked God for her love for the Lord, officer calling, faith, desire to see people of all races come to know Jesus Christ, strong sense of justice, and her support of and vision for Salvation Army women leaders across the world.

Major Richard Gaudion, private secretary to the General, stated in his prayer that no one can estimate the influence for good that the General and Commissioner Clifton have had on people around the world. “We know that they live their lives for you, Lord, that they trust you for the future and that they will continue to be faithful to you.”

Major Lynn Gibbs, personal assistant to the WPWM) paid tribute to Commissioner Clifton, noting her care and compassion, especially in leading the fight against human officers and their families.

In his tribute to General Clifton, International Secretary to the Chief of the Staff, Commissioner William Cochrane, said, “If anyone has been perfectly prepared for the office of General then Shaw Clifton is that person—service as an officer on five continents, intellectual grounding in academia, Salvation Army grounding by his parents and early commitment of his life to Christ.”

Cochrane emphasized the General’s global vision, decisive action and apparent fearlessness in the face of difficult situations. He also disclosed two often used terms of General Clifton, “intentionality and is it do-able?” Hindsight has revealed, said Cochrane, that if the General thought it was do-able then it was. He added that the General’s intentionality had, among other achievements, resulted in the elevation of soldiership within the Army, reasserted the supremacy of the covenantal relationship between officers and God and demonstrated to the Army that it can be confident in itself and its place in the body of Christ.

 

General Clifton and Commissioner Clifton respond

In her response, Commissioner Clifton quoted Hebrews 13:8: Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever, and said: “These words describe my experience of the Lord Jesus Christ ever since I took him as my personal Savior as a child.” After thanking God for calling her to serve as an officer, she said: “I face the future with my faith unchanged and undiminished. Hebrews 13:8 is true. We will take the future one day at a time, our hands placed in his [God’s] hands, as we have always done.”

After thanking many people, the General encouraged Salvationists to prayerfully support the General-Elect, Commissioner Linda Bond (now General). He noted God’s faithful presence throughout his service as an officer, saying: “These past five years serving as the Army’s world leader have thrown me back again and again on the grace and help of God. If you are risking much for God, your need of grace doubles and re-doubles. Your prayers grow more and more passionate, even desperate, as you seek guidance. God hears, God guides, and God opens up the way.

“A word about the Army—we all know God raised us up, but also we know that we Salvationists are very human and that, as a result, the Army is not perfect. Nevertheless, I want to affirm clearly and with all my heart today that I have been deeply privileged to have been called by God to be a Salvationist. God’s great Army of Salvation has allowed me to pastor, preach, teach, write, research, study, learn, travel, encourage, experience myriad cultures, to serve and to lead. The Army, under God, has allowed me to be stretched, challenged and—above all else—to be changed and to grow in grace.”

The General especially thanked his wife, who married him when she was age 19, stating, “She has encouraged me and has quietly empowered me in every place, in every appointment, and in every task.” He also thanked God for his family and their support.

Using four verses from Acts 20: 20, 22, 24 and 32 General Clifton reaffirmed his Christian faith and thanked God for the past, present and future. He concluded with a sacred reminder for all Salvationists. “All of us are called to be pure for God, sacred vessels for him, sanctified and made holy by his blood poured out so freely at Calvary. The One who calls you can do it. He is able.”

 

From an international news report

 

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