The Salvation Army has today announced its new world leader and the 19th General will be Canadian-born Commissioner Linda Bond.
Commissioner Bond becomes the third woman and the fourth Canadian to hold the post of General of The Salvation Army since the international church and charity organisation was founded 146 years ago.
The commissioner, who currently heads up the church and registered charity’s work in the Australian Eastern Territory, was elected by The High Council of The Salvation Army made up of senior leaders from around the world who met this week in Sunbury-on-Thames near London.
Commissioner Linda Bond (64) will have the title General-elect until she succeeds the current world leader General Shaw Clifton, who retires at the beginning of April.
Once in post as General of The Salvation Army, the commissioner will become the head of more than one million Salvationists in 123 countries. The Salvation Army also has more than 100,000 employees who between them communicate in 175 different languages.
In recent days and months, The Salvation Army has been involved in relief work in the aftermath of the Australian floods, the devastating mudslide in Brazil, floods in Sri Lanka, and the New Zealand earthquake.
Commissioner Bond comes to the role of General of The Salvation Army with 42 years’ experience of Christian ministry and leadership.
Since 2008 Commissioner Bond has headed up The Salvation Army’s work across Eastern Australia, a huge territory with its headquarters in Sydney. This includes the recently devastated state of Queensland where The Salvation Army continues to be heavily involved in assisting victims of widespread flooding.
Prior to this, the commissioner worked at Salvation Army International Headquarters (IHQ) in London, as the Secretary for Spiritual Life Development and International External Relations. This was her second spell at IHQ where she had previously served as Under Secretary for Personnel in the mid 1990s.
As a Salvation Army officer (ordained minister of religion and leader) Commissioner Bond has served in local corps (church) ministry, on the staff of Salvation Army national and regional (divisional) headquarters and as part of the training staff for new officers in her home territory of Canada and Bermuda. During those years she also served as a divisional and subsequently a leader of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda.
Other appointments have included divisional leadership roles in the Manchester region of the United Kingdom between 1998 and 1999, and as Territorial Leader in the USA Western Territory of The Salvation Army.
The announcement of the new General of The Salvation Army was broadcast live on the worldwide web. Speaking just after her election Commissioner Bond said:
‘I love the Lord Jesus Christ and pledge my utmost obedience to him. I am absolutely committed to a life of praise and thanksgiving to God. We, the Salvation Army need to be an Army of praise and thanksgiving to God and we must place our trust in God. We need his Holy Spirit to come mightily on The Salvation Army.’
During the past five years under the leadership of General Shaw Clifton, the work of The Salvation Army has expanded into 12 new countries. The Salvation Army is now in 123 countries. During his term General Clifton established the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission, based in New York USA and the Army’s Centre for Spiritual Life Development in London. The General and Commissioner Helen Clifton have also actively worked to aid the plight of struggling women and children around the world, including mobilising The Salvation Army in a concerted effort against human trafficking. Increasing the role of women in Salvation Army leadership has been of special concern to General Clifton and he has appointed many more women to senior leadership positions around the world than has occurred previously.
The Salvation Army is an international Christian church and registered charity and is one of the largest providers of social welfare in the world. The General directs Salvation Army operations throughout the world via International Headquarters in the City of London. Programmes include accommodation for homeless men, women, children and families; drug rehabilitation centres; schools; hospitals and clinics; HIV/Aids projects, micro-credit schemes, training centres and day-care facilities. Support is also offered through nearly 15,000 local church and community centres.
The Salvation Army across the world increasingly uses the internet and social media to share its Christian message and news about its mission, so it was appropriate that news from the High Council 2011 was shared in this way.
The webcast of the opening service, the Welcome to the High Council and the Salute to General Shaw Clifton, has to date been accessed by more than 20,000 individual computers, with many more thousands expected to have viewed the service. For the first time social media was used to share information about the progress of the High Council in London, with many thousands of people receiving information through Facebook, Twitter and Flickr and more than 3,000 people receiving email news alerts.
Release prepared in conjunction with United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland Communications Department.