Words of Hope

Good News. No Boundaries

Sanctified for Service

by: Marc Baer

Catherine Mumford grew up a Methodist in mid-nineteenth century Britain. Her school education ended after two years because of ill-health. But having to stay home provided unlimited time to read—time she put to good use. Struggling with both heart and mind, by age 16 she understood that she had a personal relationship with Christ, terming the process that led to her knowing God "a great controversy of soul." The moment of recognition came when she reread a Charles Wesley hymn, "My God, I am Thine." She felt in the days that followed as if she were walking on air.

The next two years were a season of deepening theological reflection, settling for her that if Christianity is true the salvation of individuals must produce a more just society. Slaves would be freed, children would be rescued from poverty, and drunkenness would disappear. Mumford helped lead a local temperance organization, and because of her love for animals was a vegetarian. Self-denial became her hallmark and holiness the larger movement toward which she was heading.

She married a fellow Methodist, William Booth, becoming his great encourager. Six years later, in 1861, she had a second profound spiritual encounter. This experience of holiness arose out of her understanding of the call to love God with all her heart, soul, and mind. Catherine and her husband were now equipped to launch a remarkable ministry together.