The People of The Salvation Army
William Booth began The Salvation Army in July 1865. Preaching to a small congregation in the slums of London, his spirit was as militant as that of a professional soldier while battling an almost overwhelming army. Thieves, prostitutes, gamblers, and drunkards were among Booth’s first converts to Christianity. His congregation were desperately poor. He preached hope and salvation. His aim was to lead them to Christ and link them to a church for continued spiritual guidance.
Catherine Booth, wife of Salvation Army founder William Booth, was known as the “Army Mother.” In her world, women had few rights, no place in the professions and a minimal presence in church leadership. Nonetheless, in her marriage to William Booth, she became an evangelist, preacher and theologian, and co-founder of The Salvation Army. Read More
Eva Cory Booth, the seventh child of William and Catherine Booth, was born on Christmas day of 1865. It was the same year that her parents had responded to God’s call to minister to the poverty-stricken people in the East End of London. Although Eva was often featured as a singer or musician at her father’s meetings, she had to wait until she was fifteen to wear the uniform of a sergeant and put on the Salvation Army bonnet designed by her mother. She would later influence thousands with her impassioned sermons at Great Western Hall.
Joe The Turk. He was tall, impressive, and built like a prize fighter. Often considered rude or even obnoxious, he did not follow the rules. Though never in charge of a corps, he opened doors through which others could follow in a more conventional way. He was born Nashan Garabed, or Garabedian, in Tallas, Turkey, to Armenian parents. His father died when he was three, but his mother saw that he had a Christian upbringing. At 17, he set out to work with his brother as a shoemaker in Boston. On the way to the U.S., he saw some Salvationists being attacked on the streets of London, and though knowing no English, he stepped in as their bodyguard.
The first successful work in the United States rested on the shoulders of a 17-year-old girl. In the spring of 1879, the newly named Salvation Army in London was so small that all the workers knew each other personally. Eliza Shirley, then 16, joined the Christian Mission and was appointed as an evangelist at one of the “stations.” At first, her parents, Amos and Annie Shirley, were not sure they approved. Shortly thereafter, Amos, an experienced silk weaver, left for America and found a position in Philadelphia.
George Scott Railton was one of the unique personalities who helped form the character of The Salvation Army. The son of a Methodist minister, he lost both parents from fever when he was 15. The boy worked on his own in London, seeking something that was more like the old Methodism of John Wesley. Eventually, he found the Christian Mission work of William Booth.
“What is that fire?” Brengle wrote. “It is love. It is faith. It is hope. It is passion, purpose, determination–utter devotion. It is singleness of eye and a consecration unto death. It is God the Holy Ghost burning in and through a humble, holy, faithful person.”