Salvation Army names new international leader and first black U.S. commander

London, England - The Salvation Army's High Council elected Shaw Clifton, commander for the United Kingdom and Ireland, as its general, or top international leader.

Clifton in turn appointed a new commander for the United States: Israel Gaither, the first black person to hold that post. Gaither, an officer since 1964, served most recently as the commander for southern Africa and then the eastern United States.

Clifton holds a law degree and a doctorate in religious history and has served in New Zealand, Pakistan, the United States and Zimbabwe as well as Britain. On April 1 he succeeds Gen. John Larsson, a Swede.

Seven High Council members, five men and two women, were nominated to be general but two declined candidacy.

Retiring U.S. commander W. Todd Bassett presided at the High Council meeting.