By Harry Read, Commissioner –
General John Larsson’s fascinating and fast-moving book 1929 – A crisis that shaped The Salvation Army’s future (Salvation Army, 2009) – wetted the appetite of its readers for a sequel. In that book we felt the tidal flow of change and shared the vision of those who, reluctantly but rightly, believed the still-young Army had outgrown the precedent of a leader nominated by his or her predecessor and, instead, should have a leader elected by his or her peers. Inside a High Council (Salvation Books, 2013) fulfills the need of a sequel admirably and, in the process, dispels lurking assumptions that the High Council is a dull but necessary institution. Like its predecessor, this book is compelling reading.
Members of High Councils have always been people just like us: flawed and redeemed. Like us, their wide experience gained in Salvation Army warfare and their mature judgements owe much, if not everything, to the Holy Spirit. As we read these chapters it’s clear that the blending of human experience with the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit is a supreme element in the work of the council. Did not God create our movement? Has he not continued to own it? By prioritizing faith, prayer, wise questions, thoughtful answers and presentations each High Council has aspired to achieve our heavenly Father’s intentions. Inside a High Council reveals how sincere that longing is, as the sense of destiny with which each member votes demonstrates.
Larsson makes clear that each High Council reflects the growth and development of our Army: essentially, its members are forward-looking, intent on facing the future in partnership with God. This long-established institution therefore, is not sterile, but progressive and has served us well; any backward look to previous High Council minutes is for reference only.
When the General-elect is declared how fitting that he or she should have the support of every member of the Council! It is fitting also, that every member signs the Certificate of Election and Appointment which, on completion, is presented to the General-elect.
This book is a must-read book for all who are linked with our Army. It is a treasure.