Retired General Shaw Clifton Promoted to Glory

We share with you the news recently received from the United Kingdom and Ireland Territory of the promotion to Glory of General Shaw Clifton on May 29, 2023.

The son of officer-parents, Shaw Clifton was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on September 21, 1945. His childhood years were spent in various parts of the UK as his parents were faithful to the Army’s appointment system. He later studied law at King’s College, University of London, gaining a Bachelor of Law (Honours) degree. Together with his wife Helen, whom he met at the age of 12 in his home corps of Edmonton, he entered the International Training College as a cadet in the Blood and Fire Session and was commissioned a Salvation Army officer on July 5, 1973.

His first appointment as a corps officer was at Burnt Oak, where he served for just a few months before being appointed to International Headquarters where he undertook further studies, achieving a first-class honours Bachelor of Divinity degree. He was also awarded the King’s College, London Relton Prize for Biblical and Historical Studies.

General Clifton served in three appointments as Territorial Commander, first in Pakistan and then in the New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory, followed by serving in the United Kingdom until his election  as the 18th General of The Salvation Army, which responsibility commenced on April 2, 2006. He served in this capacity until his retirement from active officership service on April 1, 2011. During his term as General, Shaw Clifton led the international Salvation Army through a significant period of growth, with ministry commencing in 13 countries. His passion for social justice led to the creation of the International Social Justice Commission. He advocated constantly for women in spiritual leadership, refusing to consider new divisional commander, training principal or territorial cabinet appointments unless women were put forward in equal measure to men. High Council membership was enlarged to ensure the just representation of women officers.

Shortly after his retirement, on June 14, 2011, General Shaw Clifton faced considerable personal loss with the promotion to Glory of Commissioner Helen Clifton, who battled cancer for a short but devastating period. They had shared married life and ministry for almost 44 years. 

In September 2013 General Clifton married Commissioner (Ellen) Birgitte Brekke, to whom he pays written tribute in the introduction to “Something Better….”

In addition to his undoubtedly strong leadership qualities, General Shaw Clifton will be remembered for his clear, sharp mind, undergirded by a pastoral spirit of sensitivity and compassion which was appreciated and valued by those who knew him. He was also a man of considerable literary skill, and a prolific writer. He continued writing until his final days, producing a nine-volume series of Twenty Talks …, the last two of which await publication. His commissioning of a new Handbook of Doctrine and Song Book of The Salvation Army arose from deep convictions about the crucial place of both in Salvation Army life.

During his officership General Clifton served on the Salvation Army’s Doctrine Council and International Spiritual Life Commission. He was a founding member of the UKI Territory’s Moral and Social Issues Council and visiting lecturer at the International College for Officers from 1979 until well into retirement, lecturing also at the UK’s William Booth College.

In giving thanks to God for the life and service of General Shaw Clifton, we offer our sincere condolences and the assurance of our prayers to his wife Commissioner Birgitte Brekke-Clifton and to his children Matthew, Jennifer and John and their families. The legacy of his life and ministry will remain with many people in each place in which he served, both in the UK and around the world. 

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