One of the world's best-known charitable organizations -- though not always recognized for the global evangelical Christian church that it also is -- suddenly and unexpectedly finds itself needing a new global chief executive.
The 148-year-old Salvation Army, which has its international headquarters in London, announced June 13 that General Linda Bond would retire immediately as international leader. Word of the retirement of Miss Bond, who was elected in January 2011 and assumed office four months later, sent shock waves through the Army's church community, a fellowship of 1.7 million members worldwide, including approximately 130,000 adults, children and "adherents" in the United States.
The official announcement was direct, if a bit cryptic. It went out over the name of Commissioner Andre Cox, a Swiss Salvation Army officer who since earlier this year has served as the organization's second in command: "I write to inform you that General Linda Bond is entering into retirement," Mr. Cox wrote. "Following a period of personal reflection and prayer, General Bond has decided that she should relinquish" the office.
There are several reasons the news sparked concern in some Salvationist precincts. One is that such midterm retirements are rare. Another is that Miss Bond had just returned to London after several days in St. Louis, where she attended a rally with about 3,000 church members. Reports from the event indicated a leader who was quite happy in her role, who gave no hint of the pending announcement.
A chief element for concern is that Miss Bond suddenly left a top administrative job once before: In August 2004, after about two years as leader of the army's USA Western Territory, which covers 13 states and several U.S. Pacific island areas, she resigned, citing "personal reasons" and without giving notice.
General John Larsson, the army's then-leader, "accepted her resignation with regret and acknowledged her outstanding contributions during her officership," according to a report in New Frontier, a regional Salvation Army periodical. Within a year, Miss Bond returned to active service, eventually taking another "territorial command" in Australia from which she was then elected to the top worldwide post.
Requests for additional information from the army's international headquarters yielded little additional information: "General Bond's retirement was an entirely personal matter," spokesman Kevin Sims wrote. Major Dean Pallant, another spokesman, stressed the "personal" nature of Miss Bond's decision but was unable to provide any further details.
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SOURCE: The Washington Times