The 17th High Council convened on Friday 21 January at Sunbury Court in London and elected Commissioner William Francis as President of the 2011 High Council of The Salvation Army. Commissioner Betty Matear was elected Vice-President..
Commissioner Francis, assisted by Commissioner Matear will guide the High Council through the procedures required to elect the Army’s 19th General. Commissioner Matear is the first married woman officer to be elected to the position of Vice-President of a High Council.
Later in the day the High Council also elected Commissioner Max Feener to be Chaplain to the High Council.
The newly elected President immediately quoted Lamentations 3:22,23 as he encouraged the High Council members to trust in God, ‘whose mercies are new every morning’.
The commissioner also cited an email he received prior to the 2006 High Council from Colonel Henry Gariepy O.F. (promoted to Glory in 2010) that emphasized the truths of 2 Corinthians 9:8. ‘And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.’
Commissioner Francis noted that 65% of the High Council members; ‘are here for the first time’. He reminded the council members that, ‘We are here for one purpose only – to elect the next leader of The Salvation Army and we need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us’.
The opening proceedings for the High Council, including the election of the President, were presided over by the Chief of the Staff Commissioner Barry C. Swanson.
In a devotional period the Chief of the Staff drew out salient similarities between the election of a Salvation Army General and the selection of David as king of Israel. Commissioner Swanson said that while the High Council is not selecting a king there are common points between the account of David’s selection as recorded in 1 Samuel 16 and the election of the Army’s General.
‘God knew who he wanted to be the next king of Israel and he knows who he wants to be the next Salvation Army General. On both occasions God has chosen to use a human agency to select the leader. Samuel and Jesse had a part to play in the selection of David and at this time we all have a part to play in the election of the General.’
To conclude the devotional time the High Council members moved into small clusters for prayer.
After approving a number of recommendations from the 2006 High Council regarding support staff the members then moved on to the election of the President and Vice-President.
In the lead up to the High Council, during the General’s Consultative Council (GCC) the Salvation Army leaders were afforded a reception in the State Apartments of the Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow M.P.
The Speaker was effusive in his thankfulness for The Salvation Army. He welcomed the members of the GCC and said that the Army’s non-judgemental caring service to the community was much appreciated by the houses of parliament.
He was visibly moved as he spoke of the Army’s compassionate ministry of love throughout the world throughout 146 years. He acknowledged that as the members of the High Council came to select a new world leader ‘you will have help from on high as you make the decision’.
The speaker praised the Rt. Hon. the Lord Foster of Bishop Auckland, a Salvationist of 63 years standing, for his service as a politician and with The Salvation Army.
General Shaw Clifton thanked Mr Bercow for his encouragement and support of the Army. The General presented the Speaker with a copy of the 2011 Year Book of The Salvation Army that also includes a photograph of the speaker from a previous meeting with the General.
The members of the GCC then sang, ‘I know the Lord will make a way for me’ before returning to Sunbury Court.