Making Every Moment Count
by: Marc Baer
Catherine Booth’s vocations were numerous: wife and mother of eight children, preacher and writer, co-founder of an urban ministry that became a global organization. She wrote extensively, advocating that new believers should be put to work in the church immediately, both men and women. Holiness teaching and the equality of women and men to proclaim the gospel, preach, and lead were foundational principles.
Overcoming her timidity, she went out in street ministry with her husband William and then in 1860 began preaching. When William fell ill that same year she took over his pulpit for several months. With their move to London, William began a preaching and social ministry in the slums of the East End. Catherine often preached in posh West End churches as a means of raising money for her husband’s work. She was successful in spite of critiquing the hypocrisy of the well-to-do and their disdain for the less fortunate.
In 1878 the Booths’ organization was renamed the Salvation Army, in part the result of her vision of a Christian witness unafraid to creatively confront the spiritual destitution of her times. She never held office in the Salvation Army; indeed, she was never ordained to preach. Her authority was the Bible and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. As one of her admirers put it, although she never commanded, she frequently led.