Eva Burrows was born in 1929 into a large, loving Salvation Army family in which both her parents were officers. She attended Brisbane State High School where her early leadership potential enabled her to be appointed School Captain, before majoring in English and History at the University of Queensland.
Her journey to England in 1950 to attend the International Salvation Army Congress was to be a pivotal experience leading to further study, her commissioning as an officer, before a series of significant international postings. For 17 years from 1952 Eva served as a teacher and leader in Rhodesia before being appointed as principal of a London-based college. From 1975 to 1977 she headed the Woman’s Social Services in Great Britain and Ireland where she came to fully understand the sadness of modern poverty in teaming industrial cities – poverty of loneliness, of homelessness, of unemployment and of not being able to cope with life. This experience shaped the rest of Eva’s career and life: to be involved with the unemployed, the poor and the homeless.
Later, Eva was appointed to lead the Salvation Army in Sri Lanka, then Scotland and in 1982 became one of two Territorial Commanders in Australia, despite having been absent from the country for over 30 years.
In 1986, Eva was elected General of the Salvation Army, the youngest and only the second woman to be so elected, a position which she held until 1993. As global leader of the Army she oversaw two million members, 27,000 officers and cadets, 15,000 churches and 4,000 institutions, schools and hospitals.
She was a courageous spokeswoman for the Salvation Army, undertook major restructuring and laid a platform for both spiritual growth and social outreach. Today there are approximately 120 million full members, 100,000 employees and millions of volunteers.
As a leader, Eva was a risk taker – regularly taking risks of faith including probably the biggest of all – taking the Salvation Army back into Russia after the downfall of Communism after having been banned since 1912. She was also an innovator whose leadership was underpinned by her strength of conviction. That continues to inspire her leadership in working with the poor in Melbourne today, at the age of 82.