Commissioner Lawrence R. Moretz, territorial commander, called it a “yellow, red, and blue evening” as five former Salvation Army Generals and their spouses sat down to answer questions from the audience at OOB.
They wore lapel microphones, and Moretz asked the questions, which were submitted in advance. To get in as many queries as possible, not every General answered every question.
When asked to name the accomplishment of which they were most proud, General Eva Burrows cited re–starting the Salvation Army’s work in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, most notably Russia.
“When the Berlin Wall went down … a great opportunity was there for The Salvation Army,” she said.
Burrows later greeted the officers who re–started the work in Russia and also prayed for Majors Joseph and Marcia Pawlowski, “reinforcements” headed for Poland.
When asked what is the greatest danger to The Salvation Army in the next decade, General John Larsson said a “loss of passion.”
“If we lose our passion to reach people for Christ and to serve people, then we’ve lost everything,” he said.
General John Gowans said the greatest danger is the “invisibility” of The Salvation Army; he mentioned that some young people resist wearing the uniform today.
“It’s saying, ‘I’m God’s man and can I help you?’ ” Gowans said of the uniform’s significance.
Gowans also lamented the lack of a Holiness Meeting in some parts of the world.
“If there is no Holiness Meeting,” Gowans said, dramatically rising to his feet, “I prophesy: There will be no Salvation Army.”
General Bramwell Tillsley was asked how he sees “holiness.” He defined it as “Christlikeness.”
“You get it when you’re saved, and you have all of the Holy Spirit you’re ever going to have,” he said. “You’re not going to get more of the Spirit. The Spirit wants to have more of you.”
Calling for women leaders
During a discussion of women in leadership, General Paul Rader said there should be an openness to appoint women to boards and councils “to make substantive decisions.”
“Women are more than capable to preach and lead a church in The Salvation Army,” Gowans added.
Commissioner Kay Rader said of women officers, “We often downplay ourselves”; instead, she said, they should see themselves as God does.
“We’re not appendages of someone else,” she said.
Commissioner Gisèle Gowans said she sees progress for women, but some territories in the world have no female divisional commanders.
“The Lord is asking us to do something about it,” she said.
Mrs. General [Maude] Tillsley said she, too, sees progress, but added, “We still have a long way to go.”
Moretz said leaders from the USA Eastern Territory in attendance were taking notes.
“This is a matter of real concern to us as well,” he said.
Mission, marriage, & musicals
During a discussion of the growing influence of Islam in Europe, Commissioner Freda Larsson said Christians should “reach out in love, reach out a hand of friendship.”
She also acknowledged that secularism is a growing problem in Europe.
“We’ve got to be more aggressive and reach out in making new Christians,” she said.
The four Generals with spouses were asked about how they maintained healthy marriages. The Tillsleys revealed that they were celebrating their 54th wedding anniversary that very night.
“There’s no day that goes by that we don’t tell each other, ‘I love you,’ ” Mrs. General Tillsley said.
Commissioner Rader urged married people in the audience to pray aloud each day with their spouses.
“We need to cherish each other,” she said.
The night also had its lighter moments, such as when the Generals recounted humorous anecdotes from their travels. There was also laughter and applause when someone asked if Generals Gowans and Larsson, who wrote 10 musicals together, might collaborate on yet another one in their retired years.
Gowans said the question was “flattering,” but that writing musicals “shortens your life.”
Larsson added, “The days of miracles aren’t over yet.… You never know. It may happen.”
Moretz said he would like to see that happen.
“If you take up the pen again, the Eastern Territory would be happy to premiere [that musical] here at OOB,” he said.