High Council of The Salvation Army - History


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 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 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.

The most complete history of this time period of The Salvation Army has now been compiled in "1929, A Crisis That Shaped The Salvation Army's Future" by retired General John Larsson.

High Councils to elect a new general have been held in 1934, 1939, 1946, 1954, 1963, 1969, 1974, 1977, 1981, 1986, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2002, 2006 and 2011.

Read more about this topic:  High Council Of The Salvation Army

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