Larssons welcomed as international leaders

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New Leaders on both sides of the pond


General John Larsson

On November 13, John Larsson became the 17th General of The Salvation Army. Earlier, before a near capacity audience in the London Arena, he and his wife, Commissioner Freda Larsson, were welcomed in a “celebration weekend” that featured the retirement of his predecessor and long-time friend, General John Gowans as well as the installation of Commissioner Israel Gaither as Chief of the Staff. The warmth and humor that characterized the Gowans and Larsson relationship was clearly evident during the festivities.

Larsson is no stranger to the heavy responsibilities of his new office, as he has been serving as Chief of the Staff with Gowans. Gowans commented, “We want to mark the beginning of the service of John and Freda Larsson as International Leaders of the Army and to thank God for them both. This provides us with the opportunity to congratulate them on their new appointments and to assure them of our prayers and of our affection. Can I suggest that we all make of this celebration event a dedication event?”

Larsson proceeded to give a stirring address to the assembly based on Romans 12: 1,2. “Do not be conformed to this culture,” he charged, “but dare to be different from the pattern of this world.” Larsson believes that this portion of scripture is particularly directed at the Army because we were raised up to be different. “We now need to have the courage to live up to our name.”

He sees this happening in several ways. The first is what he refers to as mobilization. All Salvationists need to be active participants in the task; every corps should be seen as a mission team. Each team needs to find its own radical expression of Christianity. Secondly, we need to maintain our visibility in the world. He believes that we should not conform in the sense of wanting to look like other churches. There is a unique identity that identifies us according to our uncompromising mission. The third task for Salvationists is to be adaptable. We are called to go where others do not want to tread. Our ministry is to the hurting and poor, the down and out. We must adjust and adapt the tactics we use in continuing to focus on this specialized ministry of God’s church.

The second verse of his text is to “be transformed.” He stated, “When the Army is transformed, we will be in the center of God’s will as an Army.” In particular, we must hold fast to our teaching of holiness. It is radical, and transformational. And secondly, we need to have courage: courage to be different, courage to be a radical follower of Christ, courage to be fully yielded to his call.

The message flowed into a time of prayer and dedication, singing, “I want to say YES to the Lord of my Life.” The conclusion of Larsson’s message was very moving as every soldier and officer was challenged in their own commitment to be part of a transformed Army. He reassured people that it is God who gives the courage to be bold – to live this radical kind of life. It was evident at this time of leadership transition that the new General of God’s Army brings a great deal of spiritual depth, integrity, and his own brand of courage to lead in the coming years.

Vol 20 No 19

Vol 20 No 19

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Gaither installed as Chief of the Staff

Gaither installed as Chief of the Staff

Commissioner Israel Gaither had barely gotten his sleeves rolled up as the newly

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