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The Salvation Army

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The Salvation Army

Carl Hawkins

Saint Leo University

HUS-121

March 27, 2013

Tyler Upshaw

The Salvation Army

Since 1865, The Salvation Army as an institution has made its goal to help millions of people that have been down and out. When it appears that there is no one to turn to, the Salvation Army has been one organization that has been willing to help all of humanity. The founder of Salvation is William Booth and his story serves as a great backdrop to the ins and outs of how and why the Salvation Army got started.

William Booth was born near Nottingham, England, on April 10, 1829, the only son of Samuel and Mary Moss Booth's four children. His father was a building contractor. As a youth, Booth worked as an assistant to a pawnbroker. Neither he nor his parents were especially religious (Biographies, n.d., paragraph 1). It wasn't until his teenage years that William became a Christian and it was here that he started to learn about his gift of talking to people and wanting to help people. He spent much of his spare time trying to persuade other people to become Christians too (The Salvation Army, 2003). When his apprenticeship was completed he moved to London, again to work in the pawn broking trade. He joined up with the local Methodist Church and later decided to become a minister (The Salvation Army, 2003). It was his time as a minister that William really started to think about how changes could come about to help those in need. William wanted social reform because he saw that the needy were being disregarded and this tore at his heart strings. In 1852 William met Catherine Mumford. Catherine shared William's commitment to social reform but she disagreed with his views on women, especially his description of women as the "weaker sex" (The Salvation Army, 2003). William was also opposed to the idea of women preachers, a common thought during those times and even still today. Although they would argue this point, William made it clear that he would not stop Catherine from preaching but that he would "not like it" (The Salvation Army, 2003). Despite their disagreements about the role of women in the church, the couple married on 16th June 1855, at Stockwell New Chapel.

It was not until 1860 that Catherine Booth first started to preach. One day in Gateshead Bethseda Chapel, a strange compulsion seized her and she felt she must rise and speak (The Salvation Army, 2003). Catherine's sermon was so impressive that William Booth changed his mind about women's preachers. Catherine soon developed a reputation as an outstanding speaker but many Christians were outraged by the idea. As Catherine pointed out at that time it was believed that a woman's place was in the home and "any respectable woman who raised her voice in public risked grave censure." (Spartacus, 2002). She was an inspiring speaker and helped to promote the idea of women preachers. The Salvation Army gave women equal responsibility with men for preaching and welfare work and on one occasion William Booth remarked that: "My best men are women!" (Spartacus, 2002). William lived to the ripe age of 83 and during this time he was able to see his twin objectives as the saving of lost souls and righting the social injustices of his time. He never lost his zeal for the Gospel, his love of his Lord or his heartfelt compassion for the poor. This is an extract from his last public address given on May 9th 1912: "While women weep as they do now, I'll fight; while little children go hungry as they do now, I'll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I'll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl on the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I'll fight- I'll fight to the very end." Three months after that speech, on 20th August 1912, William Booth was 'promoted to Glory' (Artus, 1994).

When starting up his ministry and his ideology of social reform, William Booth started out working with the thieves, prostitutes, gamblers and drunkards making them among his first converts to Christianity (Salvation Army South, n.d.). His congregations were desperately poor and they needed not only a message of hope but a place where they could feel wanted (Salvation Army South, n.d.). William preached this message of hope and salvation to them and his aim was to lead them to Christ and to link them to a church for further spiritual guidance (Salvation Army South, n.d.). William thought this would give them not only want they are seeking a place of comfort and the support they need to continue to strive once they are gone from his grasp (Salvation Army South, n.d.). Even though they were converted, churches did not accept Booth's followers because of what they had been. Booth gave their lives direction in a spiritual manner and put them to work to save others who were like themselves. They too preached and sang in the streets as a living testimony to the power of God. In 1867, Booth had only 10 full-time workers (Salvation Army South, n.d.). By 1874, the numbers had grown to 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists. They served under the name "The Christian Mission." (Salvation Army South, n.d.). Booth assumed the title of a General Superintendent. His followers called him "General." Known as the "Hallelujah Army,'" the converts spread out of the east end of London into neighboring areas and then to other cities (Salvation Army South, n.d.).

Booth was reading a printer's proof of the 1878 Annual Report when the noticed the statement, '"The Christian Mission under the Superintendent's of the Rev. William Booth is a volunteer army (Salvation Army USA, n.d.). He crossed out the words "Volunteer Army'" and penned in "Salvation Army'" From those words came the basis of the foundation deed of The Salvation Army which was adopted in August of that same year (Salvation Army USA, n.d.). Converts became soldiers of Christ and are known as Salvationists. They launched an offensive throughout the British Isles. In some instances there were real battles as organized gangs mocked and attacked soldiers as they went about their work (Salvation Army USA, n.d.). In spite of the violence and persecution, some 250,000 persons were converted under the ministry of the Salvationists between 1881 and 1,885 (Salvation Army USA, n.d.).

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