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Shaw Clifton (born 21 September 1945 in Belfast, Northern Irelandmarker) is the General of The Salvation Army. He succeeded John Larsson as the 18th General on 2 April, 2006. He has the academic qualifications LLB (Hons), BDTheol (Hons), PhD and AKC(Theol).


Shaw Clifton was born on 21 September 1945 in Belfastmarker, Northern Irelandmarker.

Clifton was commissioned as an officer of The Salvation Army on 5 July 1973. His first appointment was to the Burnt Oak corps (Londonmarker), in the British territory in July 1973. He went briefly to continue his theological studies at international headquarters in October 1973, before being appointed in January 1975 with his wife, Helen, to Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), initially to the Mazowe Secondary School and then to Bulawayo as corps officers.

He returned to the United Kingdom in 1979 to take charge of the Enfield corps, North London. In June 1982 he became the legal and parliamentary secretary at international headquarters (IHQ). This was followed by an appointment in 1989 to the Bromley corps in South London. In May 1992 he became divisional commander in the Durham & Tees division of the United Kingdom territory with the Republic of Ireland. He would serve in that post until 1995. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel and appointed to be the divisional commander in the Massachusetts division of the U.S.A.marker Eastern territory for a two years. He was appointed as the territorial commander of the Pakistan territory for The Salvation Army in 1997 with the rank of colonel, later promoted to the rank of commissioner whle still in Pakistan where the work of the Army prospered during his service there. In 2002, he became the territorial commander for the New Zealandmarker, Fijimarker and Tongamarker territory.

In 2004, he was returned to the United Kingdom territory this time as territorial commander until, at the Army's 16th High Council held at Sunbury Court, Sunbury-on-Thames, London, he became General-elect for The Salvation Army on 28 January 2006, taking office in succession to General John Larsson on 2 April 2006. He will serve a full five-year term.

He is married to Commissioner Helen Clifton (née Ashman), who was born in 1948 in Edmonton, Londonmarker. The two have been married since 15 July 1967. They have three children, Matt, John and Jenny (Collings). Matt and Jenny are officers in The Salvation Army.

Commissioner Helen Clifton is world president of women's ministries and has been a Salvation Army officer since 1973. In 1984 they jointly edited a book 'Growing Together' about marriage and family life. [237956]

On 13 September 2007 General Clifton became a Freeman of the City of Londonmarker.

In November 2007 he was diagnosed with early and operable cancer and, on medical advice, all overseas travel was canceled or postponed until the end of June 2008. Meanwhile he continued to carry out all the usual functions of the office of the General of The Salvation Army. Medical treatment and surgery have resulted in a return to full health, and overseas travel with full public engagements resumed in August 2008.

For more, see the 'General of The Salvation Army' website.


Views and politics

Clifton has maintained a close interest in the connection between Christianity and social-ethical issues. He has helped to shape current Salvationist positional statements on issues such as abortion, war, race and ethnicity, gender, marriage and family life, euthanasia, human sexuality, pornography.

He is known for writing and speaking on the practical possibility of living a pure and holy life in the secular world, by divine indwelling and grace. He draws upon the writings of the Reformers, John Wesley, William Booth, Catherine Booth, Samuel Logan Brengle, and Edward Read.

Clifton advocates a role for churches in social action, not just in social service, important though the latter is. Such a role should be a non-party role and it is not for the churches to tell believers or members how to cast their vote.

As world leader of The Salvation Army Clifton is actively working for heightened awareness of, and greater opposition to, human trafficking. His convictions on the Army's calling to work for social justice have given rise to the establishing of the international social justice commission based in New York near to the United Nations.

He brings to his present role the same interest in ecumenical relations shown in earlier appointments around the world. He is encouraging still greater freedom of contact between the Army and other branches of the Body of Christ, including the Roman Catholic Church and enhanced communication with the Vatican.

A strong believer in the equality of men and women in Christian leadership, Clifton has consistently sought to promote talented women Army leaders into more senior roles.

He is emphasizing the use of modern communication techniques in Christian ministry, though still encouraging a proactive book publishing program by the Army's international headquarters in London and around the world.


  • What does the Salvationist say ...? (about divorce, abortion, race relations, euthanasia, war) (Salvationist Publisher & Supplies 1977) ISBN 0-85412-287-7
  • Growing Together by Shaw Clifton and Helen Clifton (International Headquarters of the Salvation Army, London; Dec 1, 1984) ISBN 0854124454
  • Strong Doctrine, Strong Mercy (International Headquarters of the Salvation Army, London 1985) ISBN 0854124713
  • Never the same again: Encouragement for new and not-so-new Christians (Crest Books 1997) ISBN 0965760103
  • New Love Thinking Aloud About Practical Holiness (Flag Publications 2004) ISBN 1-877359-04-1
  • Who Are These Salvationists?: An Analysis for the 21st Century (Crest Books 2004) ISBN 0965760162


  1. General Shaw Clifton and Commissioner Helen Clifton

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