FELIXSTOWE'S seafront theatre is expected to be packed this weekend when the resort plays host to the Salvation Army's equivalent of the "Pope".General John Larsson, the army's worldwide leader, accompanied by his wife Freda, is visiting to speak at two meetings at the 900-seater Spa Pavilion.
FELIXSTOWE'S seafront theatre is expected to be packed this weekend when the resort plays host to the Salvation Army's equivalent of the "Pope".
General John Larsson, the army's worldwide leader, accompanied by his wife Freda, is visiting to speak at two meetings at the 900-seater Spa Pavilion.
The couple know Suffolk well and it will be something of a homecoming for Mrs Larsson, who spent her teenage years in the Stowmarket area when her parents served as Salvation Army leaders.
"We are looking forward to it greatly because it's an area we love very much indeed," said Mr Larsson.
You may also want to watch:
"Our work involves travelling a lot all over the world but we do like to have weekends to spend in the UK."
Mr Larsson is responsible for the church's 1.5 million members in 109 countries and has just returned from visiting Pakistan, India and South Africa, where Christianity is growing rapidly.
- 1 Man left with life-changing injuries following stabbing in Ipswich
- 2 Cardinal Park taped off as man suffers stab wounds
- 3 Army helicopter lands in field near Nacton after developing fault
- 4 Mum opens eco-friendly refill store thanks to savings and public donations
- 5 'Controlling' man locked girlfriend in house
- 6 Hunt for Victoria Hall's killer takes another twist
- 7 Victoria Hall murder: Suffolk strangler Steve Wright reportedly arrested
- 8 Summertime Ipswich to bring the party to the Waterfront next month
- 9 Ipswich man charged in connection with Cheshunt rail incident
- 10 Extra police patrols to be carried out in Ipswich following stabbing
Pakistan now has more members of the Salvation Army than the UK, and two-thirds of the army's membership are in Africa and Asia.
"Particularly in Africa, people are wide open to hearing the Gospel and there is a very strong Christian heritage there," he said.
"That contrasts with here in the UK and Europe where we have a problem of sheer indifference or that we have become so used to the Christian Gospel that people forget about it, and society has become very secular."
Spreading the Gospel is today done in many different ways, but the army is still recognised for its social services and community work, directly impacting on the lives of the poor and socially-disadvantaged.
In the UK, the army is reckoned to be the second biggest provider of social welfare services next to the government.
Mr Larsson, born in Sweden in 1938 of officer parents, spent his early years in Sweden, Denmark, Chile and Argentina. But he became an officer from Upper Norwood Corps, UK, in 1957.
He married Freda, at that time a captain in the army, in 1969 when stationed at Ealing Corps. Together they have served in many capacities and in 1999, as commissioners, became chief of the staff and world secretary for the Women's Organisations, before becoming the church's international leader in 2002.
Mr Larsson has written a number of books - including The Man Perfectly Filled with the Spirit, Spiritual Breakthrough and How Your Corps Can Grow - and is a joint composer of ten full-length musicals.
He will be at the Spa Pavilion on Sunday at 3pm and 5.30pm, speaking on the theme "We want to see Jesus lifted high." Salvationists and non-Salvationists are welcome. Tickets (£1 each) are available on 01603 724400.