The High Council of The Salvation Army elects a new General in the event of a vacancy or prior to the retirement of the existing office holder. It can also remove a General who can no longer fulfil their duties. It is made up of the Chief of the Staff, all active Commissioners except the spouse of the General, and all active Territorial Commanders. It is not a governing body of the Salvation Army, and is regarded as having no continuity of existence between meetings.
The High Council was established by William Booth in 1904. Its purpose was to remove and replace a General who could no longer fulfill the duties of office for reasons of either ill health, bankruptcy or general 'unfitness'. The Chief of the Staff could summon the Commissioners to vote on the issue, and if they found that the General was not capable of performing the role they would choose a successor. It was intended that in normal circumstances the choice of a successor would be made by the outgoing General. This happened only with the second General of The Salvation Army, Bramwell Booth, who succeeded William Booth on his upon his death in 1912.
In November 1928, Bramwell Booth was away from International Headquarters for several months due to illness. He was asked to resign, but refused. On January 8, 1929, the High Council met for the first time and voted 55 to 8 to remove the 73-year-old ill General.
General Booth took his case to court, and this lost him a great deal of respect. The Proceedings were delayed by the death of Lieut-Commissioner William J. Haines, Vice-President of the High Council, who collapsed during a High Council meeting and died 45 minutes later.
After over two months of deliberations, the court ruled in favour of the High Council. The High Council met on February 13, 1929, and elected General Booth's Chief of the Staff Edward Higgins as the new General of The Salvation Army.
In 1931 the Salvation Army Act of the British Parliament was passed, with the support of General Higgins. The effects of this were that the General lost the power to choose a successor, fixed an age limit of 70 for the retirement of the General, and created a trustee company to hold the properties and other capital assets of The Salvation Army instead of the sole trusteeship of the General.
Who can be a General?Edit
The High Council established by William Booth in 1904 provided that ‘the person so to be elected may be either one of the members of the High Council or some other person’ Since 1980 nominees must be Salvation Army officers. To date, no General has ever been elected without being a member of the High Council.
A woman has been elected as General on two occasions.
How the High Council worksEdit
The High Council selects nominees. Each nominee and, if married, their spouse, answers a series of set questions and addresses the council. Voting is conducted by secret ballot. The successful candidate must win two-thirds the votes on the first, second or third ballots. If that does not happen a fourth ballot, which requires a simple majority, takes place.
High Council of The Salvation Army, 2006Edit
General John Larsson was due to retire at midnight on April 1, 2006. The Chief of the Staff issued summonses on December 1, 2005 to all who qualified as members on that date. The 2006 High Council was the largest ever, with a membership of 100.
The High Council members met at Sunbury Court from January 17, until January 19 for a pre-High Council Conference led by the General. The Public Welcome to the High Council took place on Friday January 20 at the Methodist Central Hall in London. This gathering also incorporated a Farewell Salute to General John Larsson and Commissioner Freda Larsson. The High Council convened at Sunbury Court the same day.
High Council of The Salvation Army, 2011Edit
General Shaw Clifton is due to retire at midnight on April 1, 2011. The Chief of the Staff issued summonses on December 1, 2010 to all who qualified as members on that date. The 2011 High Council was the largest ever, with a membership of 109.
The High Council members met at Sunbury Court from January 18, until January 20 for a pre-High Council Conference led by the General. The Public Welcome to the High Council took place on Friday January 21 at the Lancaster London Hotel in London. This gathering also incorporated a Farewell Salute to General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton.
Monday January 31st, it was announced Commissioner Linda Bond will be the next General of the Salvation Army.
- ↑ Kirkham, J.C.: "Deposed but not Despised", page 9. Published privately by the author, 1999
- ↑ How a High Council works
- ↑ Information on the High Council 2011
- The Salvation Army
- Generals of The Salvation Army
- Chief of the Staff of The Salvation Army
- Officer of The Salvation Army
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