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William Booth

William Booth

William Booth (1829 - 1912)

Was a British Methodist preacher who founded The Salvation Army and became its first General (1878–1912). The Christian movement with a quasi-military structure and government founded in 1865 has spread from London, England to many parts of the world and is known for being one of the largest distributors of humanitarian aid. Though Booth became a prominent Methodist evangelist, he was unhappy that the annual conference of the denomination kept assigning him to a pastorate, the duties of which he had to neglect to respond to the frequent requests that he do evangelistic campaigns. At the Liverpool conference in 1861, after having spent three years at Gateshead, his request to be freed for evangelism full-time was refused yet again, and Booth resigned from the ministry of the Methodist New Connexion.

The name The Salvation Army developed from an incident in May 1878. William Booth was dictating a letter to his secretary George Scott Railton and said, "We are a volunteer army." Bramwell Booth heard his father and said, "Volunteer, I'm no volunteer, I'm a regular!" Railton was instructed to cross out the word "volunteer" and substitute the word "salvation".[7] The Salvation Army was modelled after the military, with its own flag (or colours) and its own music, often with Christian words to popular and folkloric tunes sung in the pubs. Booth and the other soldiers in "God's Army" would wear the Army's own uniform, 'putting on the armour,' for meetings and ministry work. He became the "General" and his other ministers were given appropriate ranks as "officers". Other members became "soldiers".

William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. At the age of 23 he began his evangelistic career and subsequently traveled through England as an itinerant preacher of the Methodist New Connection Church.

After separating from the church in 1861, he continued his ministry independently. In 1865 Booth and his wife, Catherine, to propagate the Christian faith and to furnish spiritual and material aid to needy persons, founded the Christian Mission in London, which in 1878 became known as the Salvation Army.

Members of the army, equipped with uniforms and flags, drums and cornets, were greeted with riotous demonstrations on their first appearances in the streets and were frequently arrested for disturbing the peace. The work progressed, however, and branches of the army were established in all parts of the world, with international headquarters in London.

Booth wrote several books, the best known of which is In Darkest England and the Way Out (1890), and he founded The War Cry, the official organ of the Salvation Army.

      William Booth was born in Nottingham, England to an Anglican family. At thirteen he was converted in a Wesleyan Chapel in London. Soon his growing burden for the souls of men led him to begin bringing street people to the church.

      Mr. Booth, whose job as a pawnbroker showed him the need of London's poorest, began preaching at 17. He brought so many of the poor and ragged drunkards to church that he was asked to leave. He was the pastor of a Methodist church until 1861 when he withdrew from the denomination.

      In 1865 Booth came across a group of evangelists who were struggling to hold an open air meetings. Such was Booth's impact that he was invited to become the leader of the group. His first words to his wife when he returned home later in the day were: 'Kate, I've found my destiny!'

      This small band of evangelists was the seed from which The Salvation Army grew. First they called themselves 'The Christian Revival Society' then they became 'The Christian Mission' finally in the autumn of 1878 they declared themselves to be 'The Salvation Army'. These changes of name prove their growing vision of a calling from God to engage in all out, no holds barred, war like mission in the name of Christ.

      During his lifetime, the Salvation Army remained focused on salvation as opposed to the social gospel which is its trademark today. It is believed that more than 2,000,000 souls were converted by this great work.

      When Queen Victoria asked Mr. Booth the secret of his ministry, he replied, "I guess it is because God knows I am hungering to keep souls out of Hell!" William Booth died at the age of 83, still seeking to win men and women to Christ.

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How to Preach
How to Preach
by William Booth

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