- Booth, William
- ( 1829-1912 )cofounder of the Salvation ArmyWilliam Booth was born on April 10, 1829, into a Church of England family residing near Nottingham, England. As a youth, he experienced conversion in a Methodist meeting and felt a call to evangelism and missions. He began to visit the ill and practice street preaching. His lack of formal education blocked his entrance into the Wesleyan Connexion (then the largest of the Methodist churches), but he spent a decade (1850-61) preaching for the New Connexion Methodist Church, where he was ordained in 1858. He objected to his church's system of appointing ministers, and he continually wandered from his assigned posts.In 1861, Booth and his wife Catherine Booth (1829-90), became involved in the Holiness movement, which had been brought from America, and both experienced the Second Blessing, which the movement taught makes one perfect in love. They withdrew from the New Connexion to begin independent evangelistic work. By 1865, they had found their way to East London's Whitechapel neighborhood and launched a mission among the poor. They founded the East London Christian Revival Society which grew into the Salvation Army, which organized workers in the growing mission on a military model.In 1890, Booth published his most important book, In Darkest England and the Way Out. His wife died the same year. He spent the rest of his life as the Army's general, preaching, traveling, and promoting his plan to help society's most destitute. By his death on August 21, 1912, the Army had spread into more than 50 countries. He was succeeded as general by his son, Ballington Booth (1857-1940), who eventually left the Army to found the rival group Volunteers of America. His daughter, Evangeline Cory Booth, headed the Army in America before becoming its worldwide general in 1934.Further reading:■ Harold Begbie, Life of William Booth, the Founder of the Salvation Army, 2 vols. (London: Macmillan, 1920)■ William Booth, In Darkest England and the Way Out (London: International Headquarters of the Salvation Army, 1890)■ Richard Collier, The General Next to God. The Story of William Booth and the Salvation Army (London: Collins, 1965)■ Roy Hattersley, Blood and Fire: William and Catherine Booth and Their Salvation Army (London: Little, Brown, 1999).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.