General Eva Burrows
Eva Burrows was born in Australia, the daughter of Salvation Army officer parents. She committed her life to God for service as a Salvation Army officer while studying at the Queensland University in Australia and, having gained a Bachelor of Arts degree, entered the William Booth Memorial Training College in London. She was commissioned a Salvation Army officer in 1951. She took a course at London University to obtain the Post Graduate Certificate in Education.
As a young salvationist Eva Burrows had sensed a compelling call to work in Africa, and on her commissioning she was appointed as an officer teacher to the Howard Institute, a large mission station in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). At this centre there was a varied expression of service through schools and a teachers' college, a hospital and a theological training college for Salvation Army officers.
During fourteen years at Howard Institute, Eva Burrows became particularly concerned with the training of black teachers for the network of Salvation Army schools throughout Zimbabwe. During her first homeland leave she undertook a course at Sydney University for the degree of Master of Education, and presented her thesis on the training of African teachers from Zimbabwe. She subsequently became a consultant to the educational department on the development of school curricula.
Eva Burrows was given leadership responsibility as Head of the Teachers' College and then Vice-Principal of the Howard Institute before being appointed as Principal of the Usher Institute, an educational establishment for girls. At this centre, The Salvation Army initiated the first Domestic Science Teacher Training College for African girls. Under her innovative leadership, Usher Institute became well known in Zimbabwe as an outstanding girls' educational centre.
In 1970 Eva Burrows was appointed to London where she spent five years at the International College for Officers, first as Vice-Principal and then Principal. In each of the four refresher courses held annually, a group of 24 Salvation Army officers, representing as many as 20 countries, studied a range of subjects relating to the programme and purpose of The Salvation Army in today's world.
A significant impact on Eva Burrows' life was her appointment, in 1975, as the Leader of the Women's Social Services in Great Britain and Ireland; an impact out of all proportion to the time she spent on this task. 'All too brief', she has said; but it gave her a sensitivity to the lost and lonely, the disadvantaged and deprived of the great crowded cities of Britain.
In January 1977 there began a period of 10 years of territorial command which culminated in her election as the General of The Salvation Army in 1986. A territorial commander is both the spiritual and administrative leader of The Salvation Army's forces. Her first command was Sri Lanka where she immersed herself in the life and needs of the Asian people, introducing new schemes and programmes. At the time of her departure, an editorial in 'The Ceylon Observer' commented 'We say without fear of contradiction, that people like Eva Burrows grace any country they serve in.
Her next command was in Scotland for a further three years of inspirational leadership prior to taking command, in 1982, of the Australia Southern Territory. There, significant and innovative initiatives characterized her leadership style over the next four years, examples being the establishment of 'Employment 2000', an imaginative programme for unemployed youth, and the introduction of the Church Growth principles and concepts which laid the foundation for future growth in Australia.
On May 2nd 1986 the High Council elected Eva Burrows to become General and world leader of The Salvation Army. She succeeded General Jarl Wahlstrom in office on July 9th 1986. As General, Eva Burrows commands the worldwide forces of The Salvation Army, giving spiritual and administrative oversight and direction to the movement. As General, she is the focus and symbol of unity, and her varied international experience eminently equips her for this role. She is the 13th General, and only the second woman to hold this responsibility.
Under the Army's constitution, General Burrows' five year period in office should have ended in July 1991. However, at the overwhelming request of the movement's senior international leadership, General Burrows agreed to serve an additional two years. Her period of office therefore ended when she entered retirement in July 1993.
During her first five years as General, Eva Burrows visited 62 countries, and was translated into 41 languages. These overseas campaigns were not only a source of inspiration to salvationists throughout the world but have enabled the General to make contact with people at all levels of society, from hostel residents to heads of state and government. The General used her meetings with such people as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Presidents of the USA and President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia to speak of the Army's continuing mission and pledge its resources to meeting human need wherever it is found.
In 1990, the General convened and presided over an International Congress which brought to London salvationists from every continent, for 10 inspiring days of celebration and discussion. She also initiated and sanctioned a far-reaching reorganization of the administration of the movement, both internationally and in the United Kingdom.
Perhaps most significantly of all, General Burrows led The Salvation Army back into Eastern Europe, with work being re-established in the former East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Russia itself.
General Burrows has been honored in many ways during her worldwide travel, not least by the receipt of a number of honorary degrees. However, such has been her willingness to spend time with individuals whatever their status that General Eva Burrows has become known to many as 'the people's General' - a title she did not seek, but which she cherishes. In December 1993, she received an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from her alma mater, the University of Queensland.
She retired as the world leader of The Salvation Army in July, 1993 to live in Melbourne, Australia. She has many invitations to speak locally, throughout Australia and around the world which she enjoys fulfilling. Released from the responsibilities of administering the worldwide Salvation Army, she has a very full schedule of appearances, lecturing, board meetings and more personal pursuits such as symphony concerts and study planned for the coming years.
In the Australia Day Honours List 1994, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia.