International executives of the Salvation Army will meet in London this week to elect a new general to be international leader of the 1.4 million-member church. The move follows the surprise resignation May 20 of Gen. Bramwell H. Tillsley, a 63 year-old Canadian who cited health problems in his withdrawal.

Tillsley had a history of heart trouble and underwent a triple bypass operation before his election to a five-year term as general in April 1993. Assuming his office last July, Tillsley undertook the demanding travel and public-speaking schedule customary for Salvation Army leaders. He had made one visit to the United States.

"Although I have done my best to continue without letting others down," Tillsley said in announcing his resignation, "I have now reached the very sad conclusion that, in the interests of the Army and of my own health, I can no longer continue as general."

Capt. Peter J. M. Smith, legal secretary for the Army's international headquarters, said Tillsley's resignation was a first in the group's history. During the interim, Com. Earls A. Maxwell, an Australian who is the Army's second in command, is acting chief executive for the church. He was a runner-up in balloting for the top Salvationist job last year.

Although official declarations of candidacy are rare, Army insiders suggest the balloting likely will come down to a choice between Maxwell and Com. Paul A. Rader, who heads the Army's Western Territory in the United States.


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