Sunday, November 22, 2015

Booth and the Bolsheviks Part One of 5 0r 6


On 6th September 2002 The Salvation Army’s General-elect, Commissioner John Larsson, spoke of “the awesomeness of the responsibility to follow in a line of succession of such distinguished Generals”. Larsson follows too in the footsteps of very capable SA leaders also named Larsson; his parents Commissioners Sture och Flora Larsson and grandparents Karl and Anna Larsson. His forebears were officers with impressive credentials in steering Army affairs in many lands for more than six decades. His grandfather, Commissioner Karl Larsson, took as his motto, “Work, for the night is coming.” [1]

My book, Return to Russia with Flags Unfurled, is comprised of three distinct narratives: The first chronicles the Salvation Army's decade 1913-1923 in pioneering the work in Russia. Both parts one and two include personal insights acquired from my many of business visits to Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan beginning in 1968 through 2007. I was also privileged to share with Kathie, my wife and pioneer-partner, as Salvation Army officers all of the challenges, frustrations, victories, pain, joy and heart-break God, the Holy Spirit, led us into while living in Russia and Ukraine 1989 -1994. And her input in the writing of this book is invaluable.

Part three is a supplement of articles and reports researched by my cousin Major Mikael Ljungholm, also a grandson of the Ljungholms who served in Petrograd and who pioneered the Army’s entry to Moscow. The articles are a unique treasure of SA history and serve as testimony to the integrity of Karl Larsson’s work ethic, his courage, intense tenacity and unwavering faith in God’s leading. Much of the material has never been translated from its original Swedish and will now be available to both English and Russian language audiences.

Commissioner Karl Larsson, is known primarily, in the broad annals of Salvation Army history, as the person who "opened fire" and planted the Army’s colours in the Empire’s soil officially the first time. (1914).[2]  Others  dispute both the year of the Army’s entry and the identity of the person credited with The SA’s historic achievement. Some question whether the Army was ever officially recognized or legally registered in Russia in accordance with the Army’s legal and well-defined regulations.

A look back at the extended history of the Salvation Army in Russia: 1889-1944[3]

The first expression of The Salvation Army’s work in Russia began in November 1889, within the Finland General-District of Czarist Russia. (administrative division of St Petersburg) The first corps was established in 1892 in Vyborg and a Vyborg Division was created in October 1905 and grew to include 13, four slum stations, and two homes to serve military personnel. However, the Salvation Army had no official or practical presence in Russia.

“George Scott Railton was drawn to William Booth’s Christian Mission in 1873 on the recommendation of his brother and by its militant evangelism. Railton became Booth’s right-hand man and was a prime contributor to the constitutive doctrinal statement of the Army and its earliest Orders and Regulations. Railton, the first person attaining to the rank of Commissioner was Booth’s foremost assistant. He championed an aggressive, unconventional mode of evangelism, the equality of women in ministry, and the sacramentalization of the whole of life.

In 1880 he was appointed by Booth to head a mission to the United States; subsequently he provided leadership in Germany and France. And from 1885 onward he traveled as Booth’s ‘vagabond’ ambassador, surveying new mission fields with what Bramwell Booth called the “restless, fearless, struggling spirit of advance.” [4]

Sven Ljungholm - Key note speaker and coordinator: First ever Russian social work conference hosted by The SA - Leningrad Russia 1990

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