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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. – Revelation 12:11.

We conclude the story of Evangeline Cory Booth …

Thus in 1904, Evangeline Booth began her thirty-year career as leader of the rapidly growing Salvation Army forces in the United States. In this period the Army continued its evangelical efforts and expanded its broad program of social services -- "rescue homes" for "fallen women" and hospitals for unwed mothers, food and shelter depots, salvage brigades for the unemployed, prison work, and aid to released convicts. Evangeline Residences, homes away from home for young working women, were established in more than a dozen large cities. The Army forged its emergency disaster service during the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. Its canteens for the American armed forces in France during World War I, with their "doughnuts for doughboys," won universal public enthusiasm and brought Evangeline Booth the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919.

As the Salvation Army's officers and institutions increased, it became necessary to divide the administration in the United States into four territories, each with its own headquarters, training college, and edition of the 'War Cry.' Still Commander Booth supervised the work in all four territories from national headquarters. Perhaps the climax of her administration was the dedication of a fine new headquarters building in New York City in 1930, the fiftieth anniversary of Salvation Army service in America.

An able administrator, Evangeline Booth readily adapted herself to American conditions. Whereas in England the Salvation Army depended largely on the work and support of its own members, in the United States it early developed a broad group of of unaffiliated sympathizers and benefactors. As far back as the 1890's an Auxiliary League had enrolled 6,000 members, among them the Rev. Lyman Abbott, Chauncey M. Depew, and Postmaster General John Wanamaker.

Evangeline Booth continued and expanded this policy, enlisting as advisers such influential figures as Myron T. Herrick, Otto H. Kahn, Bishop William T. Manning, and Helen Gould Shepard. In 1919, capitalizing on the Army's wide popular prestige, she conducted its first national fund drive, a well-planned campaign that raised $16,000,000. Her own personal commitment to the United States was symbolized on April 10, 1923, when she became an American citizen.

Her American experience undoubtedly influenced Evangeline Booth's willingness to lead the forces of reform during a new crisis that rocked the international Salvation Army in 1929. Before his death in 1912 General William Booth had named as his successor his oldest son and chief of staff, William Bramwell Booth (1856-1929), passing on to him the same absolute power that he himself had exercised. But a power that had seemed fitting in the prophet like founder soon aroused resentment in the hands of his more arbitrary son. Like Ballington Booth before her, Evangeline found herself increasingly at odds with the Army's high command. In 1929, invoking a policy of rotation of duty, Bramwell booth ordered his sister to relinquish her post.

Again, as in 1896, public protest mounted, and Bramwell Booth, unlike his father, had to back down. Prominent Salvationists the world over now urged a change in the Army's constitution and looked to Evangeline Booth for leadership. At first privately, then in concert with other high officials (including Frederick Booth-Tucker), she sought to persuade her brother to give up his autocratic and dynastic powers. All efforts having failed, a "High Council" of top Salvation Army officers met in London in 1929, deposed the now ailing Bramwell, and established the principle of electing the general rather than having him appoint his own successor. Though Evangeline Booth did not escape charges of personal ambition, it seems clear that principles were of greater importance than personalities.

The climax of Evangeline Booth's career came in 1934 when she was herself elected to the generalship. With a "pang," she left the land of her adoption to return to London. For five busy years she directed the international work of the Salvation Army in more than eighty countries and colonies, traveling around the world to visit the various outposts. Her retirement, in 1939, marked the end of an era for the Salvation Army, a shift from dominant individual leadership to corporate solidity. She was the last of the Booths to head the Salvation Army, the last commander in the United States to become a personal symbol of the institution.

For Evangeline Booth, the service of God was never joyless. The first Salvationist to ride a bicycle in the 1880's, she was also an accomplished horsewomen and enjoyed swimming and diving at her summer cottage on Lake George. Her temperament was such that she would drive herself unsparingly for weeks and then collapse for a period of absolute rest. Music was always a part of her life. Among the several instruments she played, her favorite was the harp. She composed a number of hymns, some of them still sung in Salvation Army meetings. A collection of her compositions was published in 1927 as 'Songs of the Evangel.'

Always an effective speaker, she drew large audiences at her public lectures in the United States. She used her own personal influence and that of the Salvation Army to support the movement for prohibition and later was in the vanguard of the forces opposing its repeal. A feminist by family heritage, she favored woman suffrage, though she took no part in the movement to obtain it. Unlike most of her brothers and sisters, she never married, though her dedicated resolve once wavered when, at twenty-nine, she was ardently courted by the idealistic Russian Prince Galitzin.

Following her retirement as General, Evangeline Booth returned to the United States to spend her last years at her home in Hartsdale, N.Y. She died there in her eighty-fifth year of arteriosclerosis. After public services in the Salvation Army citadel in New York City, she was buried in the Army's plot in Kensico Cemetery, near White Plains, N.Y. Among the many honors that had come to her were degrees from Tufts College (1921) and Columbia University (1939).

Are you willing to do whatever it takes, and give your all, to win the lost to Christ? Then like, the Evangeline Cory Booth, put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water, and dare to follow Jesus wherever He leads you?

Loving Father, I thank you for the life of Evangeline Cory Booth, and I pray that anyone reading this may be inspired by her testimony to give their life to you, and that you would use them in the same way, as you used Evangeline. By the power of the Holy Spirit, help me to be a person of like faith, that I may bring glory to your name. In the wonderful and mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Be encouraged.

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