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William Booth and Catherine Mumford were both born in 1829 in England. William grew up in poverty, working at age 14 to help support the family. When he was 15, William came to know Jesus and began preaching in the streets. Catherine was raised in a Christian family and came to know Jesus herself when she was 16.
William and Catherine Booth
As a young teenager, Catherine was very ill and spent a lot of time in bed reading and writing articles about the dangers of alcohol. William and Catherine met when William preached at her church. The two were married in 1855 and had nine children.
Though Catherine was very nervous about speaking in public, she started speaking to groups of children. Soon she was giving her testimony in church, encouraging other women to stand up and give their testimonies too. Women in her time never spoke during adult services. Catherine continued speaking to people and had a special concern for alcoholics (people who are addicted to drinking alcohol). She started programs to help them recover. Catherine also raised funds for her and William’s street preaching efforts.
William spent much of his time preaching the gospel to the poor and meeting their physical needs. He traveled all over the world preaching and proclaiming the gospel. He started missions in the slums to help lift people from poverty and stop them from getting drunk on alcohol. William borrowed practices from the British Volunteer Movement to help give people things to do so they wouldn’t spend their time drinking and getting into trouble.
Through their efforts, William and Catherine founded The Salvation Army. This church denomination still works today to help the poor and to preach the gospel to everyone.