General Eva Burrows AC

In 1986, General Eva Burrows became the first Australian woman world leader of the Salvation Army.

Honour Roll

Eva Burrows was born on 15 September 1929 at Tighes Hill near Newcastle, New South Wales, to parents involved in the Salvation Army. In fact they named her after the daughter of the founder of the army, William Booth.

She gained a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Queensland and committed her life to God for service as a Salvation Army officer at 22. She entered the William Booth Memorial Training College in London and also obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in Education at London University. She went to the Howard Institute in Rhodesia to work as a missionary and educator for fourteen years. During that time she also obtained a Master of Education at Sydney University.

Eva was given leadership roles and her interest was the training of African teachers and the development of school curricula. In 1970, Eva was sent to London, first as Vice-Principal then as Principal of the International College for Officers. In 1975, she became the Leader of the Women's Social Services in Great Britain and Ireland, which gave her an insight into the lost and the lonely women of Britain's crowded cities.

In January 1977, she began a ten-year period of territorial command, whereby she was the spiritual and administrative leader of the Salvation Army in various countries. She moved from Sri Lanka to Scotland to the Australian Southern Territory. In Australia, she initiated the 'Employment 2000' programme for unemployed youth.

On 2 May 1986, the High Council elected Eva to become General and world leader of the Salvation Army. Her variety of experience in the field made her well equipped for the role. She became the thirteenth general and only the second woman to hold this responsibility. Under the Army's constitution her five-year period in office should have ended in July 1991 however the movement's senior leadership requested Eva serve an additional two years. Accordingly she retired in July 1993.

During her time as General she visited 62 countries and made contact with people at all levels of society. She met with Queen Elizabeth, the President of the United States and President Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia. She initiated and implemented a far-reaching restructure of the administration of the movement internationally. After the collapse of communism she led the Salvation Army back into Eastern Europe.

She was honoured with a PhD from the University of Queensland in 1993, and was named Australian of the Year by The Australian newspaper. In 1994, she was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia. She retired to live in Melbourne, Australia, but was still much in demand as a public speaker. Perhaps her greatest accolade is being dubbed 'the people's General'.