I haven’t known much about the Salvation Army though as a kid my parents had some friends were Salvationists, so it was with some anticipation of learning that I read Roger J. Green (a Salvationist himself) and his new book Life and Ministry of William Booth. It’s a good read about a major figure in 19th Century English (and American) Evangelicalism, shaped as Booth was by Wesleyan theology.
Booth was born into poverty; he was thrust into providing for his family in Nottingham England at a young age.
He was converted and the conversion both stuck and took deep root — he became a fireball of an activist from the very beginning. He was thoroughly missional — both evangelism and social work were tied into the fabric of his life.
Booth and his wife, about whom Green has also written (Catherine Booth), were at the forefront of getting women behind pulpits and into leadership.
There’s lots to tell here … Booth’s family struggles, his difficulty in finding a denominational home (he was not easy to get along with), and the beginnings of his missional work … and it simply flourished. When Booth died thousands came out to see the march of his casket.