Candles in the Night—No. 5

Many a needy Dorcas Society in our ranks would grow in strength and usefulness if more of our sisters exemplified Catherine Booth's spirit of devotion and self-sacrifice.

WHEN considering the usefulness of women in the broader fields of humanitarian serv­ice in the world, we observe that the feminine ministry of the Salvation Army fills a large place. Their plan of action is based less on theology than philanthropy, but it has followed the Wesleyan and Arminian doctrinal pattern. Not a full-fledged church endeavor, it has suc­ceeded in reaching the less privileged in soci­ety, and has helped many who, in the disap­pointments of life and struggles for existence, responded to the touch of this organization. It provides applied Christianity.

The Salvation Army developed out of a great need in the middle of the eighteenth century when men had grown weary of war and yet re­mained conscious of its military pattern. The founders of the Salvation Army adopted the language of the world's national defenders. This was sanctified soldiery. It was also some­what revivalistic, and developed along with the Wesleyan awakening. However, the Salvation Army capitalized on Protestant hymnody, and with banners waving and drums beating it added the popular marching stride to supply rallying incentive. True, its music was a far cry from the Established Church's dignified hymns of another tempo, but it reached many the Established Church never would reach.

The Salvationist's power was prayer, and knee drills were to become the order of the day. Its officers and "lassies" were trained by the originators of their movement to pray in the hovels of the poor. It was a common sight to see drunkards and derelicts in gutters and door­ways after a night's debauchery, and the Salvation Army set out to help them. No service was top humble and no case was ever hopeless. Their commander in chief was Jesus Christ.

William and Catherine Booth

Catherine Mumford Booth, wife of William Booth, a minister in the Methodist Connection at the time of their marriage in 1855, is the recognized "Mother of the Salvation Army." Their eight children formed a battalion of Christian soldiers. A humble mission in Lon­don's East End became an induction center. Today more than four thousand have donned the 'Army's" uniform in almost seventy coun­tries. The Army functions in many languages, but adapts its martial tempo to local needs.

Catherine Booth had read her Bible through several times by the time she reached the age of sixteen, and she had a genuine religious experi­ence. Afflicted from childhood with a number of serious infirmities, she hardly spent a day without pain, often arising from a sickbed to meet a duty or to face an enthusiastic crowd who regarded her as one of England's great preachers. Beginning with their honeymoon William and Catherine had been an evangelis­tic team. William, too, was God-directed in his work, and their union doubled in usefulness for organizing, preaching, and singing. Catherine, however, was the main source of courage and creativeness. She was a practical wife and passed on a few of her formulas for domestic tran­quillity:

The first was not to have secrets that affected their mutual relationship or the interest of their family. The next was not to have two separate purses. Another was not to argue in the presence of the children. 1

Catherine's understanding of her responsibil­ity was that a woman was to participate first of all in her husband's ministerial work. She was militant with voice and pen, and William made room for her distinctive contribution. This had its roots in her husband's leaving the Method­ist Connection in 1861 to face the task of an independent gospel worker. It meant an itiner­ant life with no settled home for a growing family. But the Booths had an innate confidence in God and a great vision of the work God had entrusted to them. They were a congenial and powerful team.

While Catherine was an organizer she was not without true feminine traits. In her impro­vised millinery parlor in the whitewashed sta­ble meeting hall, she designed a stunning "Hal­lelujah Bonnet," styled after the Puritan head­gear of the "plain" Quakers. She also designed the Army's uniform, and glamour and appeal were not out of the question with Catherine. Besides keeping her own children in the cause, she attracted youthful zeal into service for Christ and glorified the commonplace. She taught her "lassies" more than the universities of the day provided—that a Christian woman is a servant of the poor, a succorer of the needy, and a comforter in affliction and pain. This in the setting of music, with horns blowing and tambourines tinkling lightened the lot of the toilers of that generation.

Growth of the Salvationists

While these beginnings brought continuous reinforcements as the years progressed, the Booths provided the backbone and the strength of the work of the Salvation Army. And we desire to pay tribute to the ministering spirit of this organization. We are also aware of the branch that became known as the Volunteers of America. It evidently found the original or­ganization a little too cramped for its style, but that, too, is the way some things have to grow.

Adventists and Salvationists

As the Salvation Army has nobly served, it has inspired many other religious groups to co­operate and expand in Christian service within their church groups. Some Seventh-day Advent­ists earlier have been Salvationists. They have wielded a good influence in our own missionary societies. Seventh-day Adventists find their true pattern in Isaiah 58. This inspiring chapter em­braces with humanitarian service a return to the original Sabbath. It is a work of reform and restoration.

We should here mention another worthy example of Catherine Booth as expressed by Edith Deen:

In their self-abnegation, Catherine and William Booth created a monument to the spirit of Christ and against the spirit of Mammon. Like members of the early Christian community at Jerusalem, they never accepted profits for themselves from such things as books, hymns or magazines, but placed them in the treasury for the common good. They not only refused money for themselves but taught their children not to worship wealth. 2

Catherine would suggest enterprises far more profitable than hours spent in making fineries for church bazaars. She guided national leaders and courts to consider rescue homes for stray­ing girls, and she sponsored other noble proj­ects. To those who overstressed the second com­ing of Christ doctrine and neglected humanitar­ian responsibilities, Catherine appealed for bal­anced thinking. She wrote some inspiring and practical books to guide the cause. On the occa­sion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Sal-vation Army, when 50,000 had gathered, Cath­erine gave her last public message. Her moth­erly appeal was:

Love one another. Help your comrades in dark hours. I am dying under the Army flag; it is yours to live and fight under. God is my salvation and refuge in storm. 3

Many a needy Dorcas Society in our ranks would grow in strength and usefulness if more of our sisters exemplified Catherine Booth's spirit of devotion and self-sacrifice. Our mes­sage has been dignified by women of equal forti­tude and creativeness, but there is great need in earth's closing hours to put first things first in our lives. More candles must be lighted in the gloom and darkness of ignorance and despair. How brightly is your candle burning, my Adventist sister?


1 Edith Deen, Great Women of the Christian Faith (New York: Harper and Brothers), pp. 238, 239. Used by permis­sion.

2--------Ibid., p. 243.

3---------Ibid., p. 244.


Booth-Tucker, Frederick. Memoirs of Catherine Booth. 2 vols.

Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Co. Wilson, P. W. General Evangeline Booth. New York: Chas. Scribner's Sons.


Advertisement - RevivalandReformation 300x250

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus

January 1962

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Pointers for Preachers

Swallowed by Affluence! What is expected of a Preacher? Ghetto-Minded

"What You Dare to Dream, Dare to Do"

I had been looking forward to the time when my sons and I could visit our home commu­nity in northern Minnesota and bring the three angels' messages to our relatives and friends through the literature ministry. This dream was translated into reality a year ago after the close of school.

Sabbathkeeping in our medical institutions *

From the day that first medical unit opened in Battle Creek to the present time, each Sabbath, as it has come from week to week, has been a test both to the indi­vidual employee and also to the manage­ment of every Seventh-day Adventist medi­cal institution.

The Cleansing of the Sanctuary

This unsolicited article from a veteran Bible teacher will provoke thought on a subject of interest to our readers. We print it in the interest of objective study in an area that is at once both vital and, in the hands of the immature student, dangerous. It is therefore to be studied with care and reverence.

How God Prepares a Minister *

If you want to know how God prepares a minister, study Isaiah 6:1-9.

Report of the Los Angeles Campaign and Field School

THE Los Angeles evange­stic campaign and field school, conducted in the city of Los Angeles for four months, reached its climax in the baptism of 319 new be­lievers with additional rebaptisms. All of the participants in this vast program are united in giving God full glory for the accomplishments of this campaign.

A Parable on Evangelism

A Parable on Evangelism.

Large Baptism in Menado, North Celebes, Indonesia

Large Baptism in Menado, North Celebes, Indonesia

Biblical Languages—Are They Necessary?

THE TITLE of this article may bring to many of my fellow ministers a recollection of the many, many hours spent poring over the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament during col­lege and seminary days. It may also bring to remembrance the many dis­cussions about the question, Is the study of Biblical languages really essential in our theology course?

The Incarnation and Nature of Christ

The incarnation of Christ is a profound mystery. As de­clared by the apostle Paul, "Great is the mystery of god­liness: God was manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16).

Great Words of the Bible—No. 6: The Kingdom

The feminine abstract noun basileia is found in the New Testament more than 160 times. The primary meaning is "king­ship, royal power, royal rule." We mostly think of this term as "kingdom, territory, or the people ruled over by a king." We tend to ignore the first and basic meaning when we dis­cuss the kingdom.

The Days of Our Years

AT THE creation of our world God pronounced His divine purpose for the heavenly bodies. In the course of time God spoke to Moses and Aaron, ancient Israel's spiritual lead­ers, instructing them regarding a change in the beginning of the year. At this time the Feast of the Passover was instituted.

Principles of Biblical Interpretation*: Part I. The Continuing Quest for Truth

The commission of the Holy Spirit to guide the church into all truth is as valid today as it was in apostolic times. It is our favored privilege and sacred duty to accord Him the opportunity to perform for us in this generation His ap­pointed task of leading men onward in the quest for a more perfect understanding of the character, will, and ways of the Infinite One as set forth in His Holy Word.

A Preacher's New Year Resolve

New Year is a time for re­flection and re-evaluation; a time when it seems easier to take inventory of ourselves and our service. At this season a wise minister maps out his work for the ensuing months.

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated


Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (160x600)