The original deeds for the 101 Queen Victoria Street site, signed by William Booth
The original International Headquarters
Graphics on the glass highlight The Salvation Army's internationalism
A simple cross is the main feature of the International Chapel, the heart of ‘101’
General John Larsson is the international leader of The Salvation Army
From the top: Thoughts from the General – Hopes and Prayers for 101
by General John Larsson
"I can see the thousands of people who pass by every day – and I can be seen by them." (The General’s office is on the front corner where he is intentionally visible to passers-by.)
The Salvation Army’s IHQ – International Headquarters – is back once more at its historic address: 101 Queen Victoria Street in the City of London. Transparency through the use of glass is a feature of the new building and, as I sit in my corner office, I can see the thousands of people who pass by every day – and I can be seen by them.
Little did The Salvation Army’s Founder, William Booth, know that the ‘101’ address would in time become one of the most desirable locations in all of London. The construction of the Millennium Bridge – a pedestrian bridge across the River Thames – means that literally millions of people will pass the front door of International Headquarters each year.
When Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, opened the new headquarters on 9 November 2004 I remarked that the building could really be called the Elizabeth Orr Bell building, for it was through a donation of £70,000 made by this friend of The Salvation Army in 1891 that William Booth was able to buy the freehold of the ‘101’ site. In today’s terms that was the equivalent of a donation of well over £4 million.
Because of administrative reorganisation and also some down-sizing, International Headquarters now only needs to occupy one third of the site. The new International Headquarters is the smallest the Army has had since its early days – and yet the Army is larger today than it has ever been. A long-term development agreement with respect to the other two thirds of the site means the new IHQ has been built at virtually no cost to The Salvation Army. All thanks to Mrs Elizabeth Orr Bell!
What are my hopes and prayers for International Headquarters in its new setting? Firstly, that it will keep the vision before Salvationists everywhere that we are called to take the good news of Jesus Christ in word and in deed to all the world. As the title of this magazine constantly reminds us, our mission is not to part of the world, but to all the world.
William Booth’s vision expanded continually. At first he thought he had found his destiny in devoting his life to the needs of the East End of London. But God had other plans. God saw him as a prophet to the whole world. And as William Booth’s vision expanded, so did his Army, until it was leaping frontiers and spreading around the world. The Salvation Army today is at work in 109 countries. That leaves about another 100 to go. My prayer is that International Headquarters will always keep that world vision before Salvationists.
Secondly, I pray that International Headquarters will be an ever more effective means of resourcing The Salvation Army’s worldwide mission. International Headquarters does not in itself generate resources of personnel and finance. Its task is to be the facilitator that enables those around the world that have such resources to share with those that do not. And the story of the international Salvation Army is one of wonderful generosity in support of mission – both from external and internal sources.
But resourcing also includes the sharing of knowledge, expertise and experience that will enable the Army’s mission to be accomplished. In this area International Headquarters is both a resource in itself – the staff team represents a vast amount of these skills and qualities – and a means of linking across boundaries those who have with those who need. My prayer is that International Headquarters may accomplish its task of resourcing mission ever more effectively.
Thirdly, I pray that International Headquarters may always inspire passion for the Army’s mission. All movements born of a visionary explosion stand in danger of winding down with time, and The Salvation Army is no exception. Such tendencies need to be counteracted – and can be. The Salvation Army has an enviable record of continual renewal. And I believe that for this to be fostered the Army needs continually to sense ‘mission energy’ emanating from its centre. That is why my prayer is that International Headquarters may ever be the dynamo that inspires, directs, supports and resources mission around the world.
So, here we are. Back at ‘101’. And thanks to Elizabeth Orr Bell, in a gleaming new building. But it is not only the building that gleams. Our spirits also gleam to inspire the fulfilment of the Army’s mission of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and meeting human needs in his name without discrimination – in all the world!