Commissioner Shaw Clifton Elected Eighteenth General of the Salvation Army

Adam Greene


Commissioner Shaw Clifton named
General of the Salvation Army

The Salvation Army has announced that its new world leader and the eighteenth General of the Salvation Army will be Commissioner Shaw Clifton. Commissioner Clifton, who currently heads up Salvation Army work in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, was elected by the High Council of the Salvation Army, which is made up of senior Salvation Army leaders from around the world.

Commissioner Clifton will succeed the current world leader, General John Larsson, when he retires in April. Commissioner Clifton will become head of the Salvation Army, with 1.5 million members in 111 countries. The Salvation Army is also known as one of the largest providers of social welfare in the world and was most recently involved in relief work after the hurricanes in the southern part of the United States, the 7 July London bombings and the South Asian tsunami.

Commissioner Clifton becomes the General-elect and will be the ninth British General of the Salvation Army. Prior his present position he was in charge of Salvation Army work in New Zealand and Fiji and prior to that in Pakistan. During his Christian ministry, he has also headed up the work of the Salvation Army in Massachusetts, USA, and before that he was a regional commander in the Durham and Tees area of the UK. Commissioner Clifton has also served as vice principal of a Salvation Army secondary school in the former Rhodesia and has held several appointments, both in the UK and at the Salvation Army’s International Headquarters, including the position of Legal and Parliamentary secretary.

Commissioner Clifton holds a bachelor of Law and holds a bachelor of divinity and a doctorate in the history of religion from the University of London. He is the author of several books on Salvation Army practice and doctrine including What Does the Salvationist Say?, Growing Together, Strong Doctrine, Strong Mercy, Never the Same Again, Who Are These Salvationists? and New Love.

Commissioner Clifton shares his Christian ministry with his wife Commissioner Helen Clifton, who becomes the Salvation Army world president of Women’s Ministries. They have three children.

The announcement of the new General was broadcast live on the World Wide Web for the first time. Speaking just after his election Commissioner Clifton said,

“I feel deeply honoured to be called by God to this role in global Christian leadership. The Salvation Army, as ever, stands ready to present the Christian message in 111 countries of the world and will never cease to do all it can to meet human need, without discrimination, whether that need be poverty, lack of education, human trafficking, homelessness or alienation from society. The need grows and grows but God’s people rely on his inspiration to remain relevant and practical to the peoples of the world.”

General John Larsson, the current leader, retires in April, having spent much of the three years of his leadership visiting Salvation Army projects worldwide. During this time, General Larsson has seen the most extensive international emergency response in the Salvation Army’s 140-year history following the South Asian tsunami, when local Salvation Army staff and volunteers were mobilized in India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Forty-three million dollars (£24.2m) was pledged and eighty percent of this has already been spent on rebuilding homes, school equipment and support for local business. During General Larsson's tenure, the Salvation Army's work expanded into two new countries, Poland and Lithuania.

In addition to its more than 1.5 million members worldwide, the Salvation Army has over 100,000 employees who communicate in 175 different languages. Programmes include accommodation for homeless men, women, children and families; drug rehabilitation centres; schools; hospitals and clinics. It runs over five thousand HIV/Aids projects, micro-credit schemes, training centres and daycare facilities. Support is also offered through nearly fifteen thousand local church and community centres.

(This article was edited from a Salvation Army news release.)