William and Catherine Booth: Did You Know?
William Booth, as a teenager, was a pawnbroker’s apprentice.
Catherine Booth experienced long periods of illness as a child, during which she read voraciously, including theological and philosophical books far beyond her years. She read the entire Bible before she was 12.
William toured the United States several times in his later years, drawing enormous crowds, and met President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1898 he gave the opening prayer at a session of the U. S. Senate.
William was a vegetarian, eating “neither fish, flesh, nor fowl.”
The Booths had eight children of their own, yet they adopted a ninth, George, about whose later life little is known.
Seven of the Booths’ eight natural children became world-known preachers and leaders—two as general of The Salvation Army. The seven also all published songs that are still sung today.
William led the fight against London’s loathsome prostitution of 13- to 16-year-old girls; he collected 393,000 signatures that resulted in legislation aimed at stopping the “white slavery.”
The Salvation Army led in the formation of the USO, operating 3,000 service units for the armed forces.
William pioneered the mass production of safety matches.
The Salvation Army helps more than 2,500,000 families each year through 10,000 centers worldwide. Their resident alcoholic rehabilitation program is the largest in the U.S.
William was awarded an honorary degree from Oxford University.
William met privately with many world leaders, including King Edward VII.
In the first five years of The Salvation Army, the number of officers (ministers) more than tripled. The Army today has 25,000 officers in 91 countries.
William drew no salary from Salvation Army funds but received an allowance from a fund set up by friends and supporters.
Both Catherine and William wrote; portions of their writings have been translated into over 100 languages. In addition, about fifty biographies of Catherine and William have been published.
The first Salvation Army band was a father and three sons enlisted as bodyguards to protect William Booth against hooligans. Today there are 908 brass bands worldwide in addition to numerous smaller musical groups totaling almost 75,000 members.
During his life, William traveled 5,000,000 miles and preached 60,000 sermons.
John D. Waldron, retired Salvation Army commissioner of Canada and Bermuda, is the author or editor of many books on The Salvation Army.
Copyright © 1990 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History magazine.
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