“My immediate thoughts are thankfulness to God. I pray that The Salvation Army will be known as a force for good in the world. I pray that The Salvation Army will be known as a force for positive change and transformation in the communities in which we serve. I pray that we Salvationists, no matter what our rank, will live up to the spiritual values we proclaim, that we will live them out, and in that way I know that God will bless and will lead us.”
With these words newly elected General André Cox, a Swiss-British Salvation Army officer, addressed members of the 18th Salvation Army High Council, as more than 10,000 people from around the world watched a live webcast of his election as the Army’s 20th General. The 117 senior leaders from around the world gathered July 29th at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel just outside London for the sacred task of choosing the next international leader.
The Mercy Seat from the Army’s facility at Sunbury Court, London, was placed in the center of the configuration for the High Council delegates as a visible sign of the spiritual exercise in which the members were involved. Sunbury Court, the regular venue for the High Council, is undergoing renovations.
General Cox shares his ministry with his wife, Commissioner Silvia Cox, who is the World President of Women’s Ministries. Together General and Commissioner Cox now lead the 1.5 million-strong Army in 126 countries around the world.
Born in Harare, Zimbabwe, to an English father and Swiss mother, André Cox spent his childhood years in Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom before moving to Switzerland, where he met his wife. From there the couple entered training to become Salvation Army officers, taking up their first appointments in 1979.
The 59-year-old General has vast experience with the international ministry of The Salvation Army. In the early years of his officership, General Cox held appointments in Switzerland and Zimbabwe. More recently he has served as the territorial commander in the Southern Africa Territory, the Finland and Estonia Territory and the United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland. In February 2013 he was appointed as Chief of the Staff—second in command of the international Salvation Army.
As the High Council convened, one of the first official acts was to elect Commissioner William Roberts, USA National Commander, to serve as the president. Commissioner Roberts immediately took control of business, pledging to do his best to keep the proceedings flowing smoothly. He moved straight to the election of other officials: Commissioner Birgitte Brekke, International Secretary for Europe, was elected as vice-president and Commissioner James Condon, territorial commander, Australia Eastern, was elected as chaplain. The president guided members through a review of the orders of procedure for the council, and the chaplain concluded the day by reading from Psalm 139 before the singing of “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, is Ended.”
On the second day, the High Council elected members for the Tellers and Questions Committee, which prepared a questionnaire for each nominee to answer.
The chaplain’s prayer on the third morning centered on God’s people being united in the Holy Spirit. Using the song “Savior and Lord, We Pray to Thee,” Commissioner Condon emphasized the prayer: “Pour out Thy Spirit… and let Thy love, Thy will dictate.” That prayerful attitude pervaded the chamber as High Council members submitted the nominees for General. Those accepting nomination were Commissioner André Cox, Commissioner Kenneth Hodder, Commissioner James Knaggs, Commissioner Dick Krommenhoek and Commissioner Barry Swanson. Commissioner Clive Adams declined the nomination.
On the fourth day, High Council members joined Salvationists around the world in the online Worldwide Prayer Meeting. Delegates reported that they were aware of people supporting them in prayer. Such interest was evident in the activity on the High Council website, Facebook page and Twitter account set up by International Headquarters. The video of the opening day was viewed 8,000 times and the publication of photographs the third night resulted in 47,655 views.
On the fifth day, the candidates for General and their spouses delivered their answers to the questionnaires without interruption. High Council delegates received the answers in silence, in accordance with the Orders and Procedures. Candidates had prepared their answers as well as their speeches during a 24- hour period, which meant that translators worked into the early hours of the morning to ensure that every member could follow procedures clearly and have a copy of each speech.
On what would prove to be the final day of the 2013 High Council of The Salvation Army, members entered the chamber with a sense of anticipation and solemnity, prepared for the sacred task upon which they were about to embark. The day’s devotions included the prayer request that God would “direct, control, suggest, this day, all I may think, or do, or say.” Chaplain Condon led the council to consider that its work would result from the harmony that had been evident all week among the members, so each member could say, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit.” In the early afternoon on the sixth day of the 18th High Council, Commissioner André Cox was elected as the 20th General of The Salvation Army. Commissioners André and Silvia Cox knelt together at the Mercy Seat while the High Council members sang: “I Would be Thy Holy Temple.” The commissioner then confirmed that he was willing to serve.