Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.
Since its inception, The Salvation Army and its founders William and Catherine Booth recognized and championed women serving in leadership and at the church’s helm. When society did not provide opportunities for women to sit at the table, The Salvation Army’s philosophy honored women with a place and equality, resulting in three elections of women as Generals of The Salvation Army to date.
On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic triumphs, challenges, and achievements of female officers worldwide and at home who have served, who are serving, and who will serve in The Salvation Army. Thank you, and God bless you.
In 1865, The Salvation Army founder, William Booth recognized women as having equality within the leadership and ministry of the church, insisting that husband and wife serve side-by-side in service and ministry.
In fact, Evangeline Booth, the seventh child of William and Catherine Booth, was given a leadership position when she was seventeen and six years later became Commander of The Salvation Army in London. Up until this time, the pulpit was reserved predominately for men; however, Evangeline would go on to influence thousands with her impassioned sermons at Great Western Hall.
In 1904, Evangeline was appointed to serve as the Commander of the American Salvation Army forces.
Over the next thirty years of her leadership, the American Salvation Army expanded its already far-reaching social services. She established hospitals for unwed mothers, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, assistance for the unemployed, homes for aging adults and working women, and prison work.
After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, disaster relief became part of The Salvation Army’s services. The disaster services expanded during World War I to include the Army’s famous canteens, and in 1919 President Woodrow Wilson awarded Evangeline Booth the Distinguished Service Medal For The Salvation Army’s work during the war.
In 1934, she was elected as the organization’s International Commander-in-Chief, the fourth general of the International Salvation Army, its first female general. For five years, she lead The Salvation Army’s work in eighty countries.
She retired in 1939 on the highest crest of love and popularity she had ever known and retained her American citizenship. In 1950, she died at 84 in Hartsdale, New York.