Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How the East London Christian Mission became the Salvation Army

By the middle of the 19th century the fires that had burned so brightly in the Methodist movement at the time of the great awakening had begun to die down and Methodism had itself become just another denomination.
William Booth who was an itinerant preacher with the Methodist New Connection hailed from Nottingham. On his arrival in London's east end he was staggered by the desperate poverty that he encountered among the working classes, he resigned his ministry with the New Connection to form The East London Christian Mission. His first preaching engagement was outside the notorious "Blind Beggar" pub on the Whitechapel Rd, a pub that was a known hive of prostitution, gambling and every sort of vice.
William Booth threw his hat upon the ground an started preaching to it, among the missiles that greeted his loving invitation to the patrons within to turn from their wicked ways and to turn to Christ for salvation were human waste, offal and at least one live cat. But three persons got saved and the following night they set up a tent in a field opposite. And by and by God blessed the work and it grew in size and strength.
One freezing november night Booth was walking across London bridge with his son Bramwell and peering over the side of the bridge he saw what appeared to be lines of cardboard boxes seemingly stuffed full of nothing but newspaper, he enquired what they were "why father"...his son replied.."those are homeless men and women, they sleep in those boxes." William Booth was distraught, he went home in an agony of grief that such a thing could be. Endlessly he paced his room, back and forth, pulling on his beard "and you knew about this, you knew but you did nothing."
From this time forward the E.L.C.M. started to buy and rent disused warehouses and such like buildings and the first hostels were formed. On the wall outside was this message NO MAN NEEDS TO STEAL OR TO BEG OR TO SLEEP OUT AT NIGHT OR TO STARVE OR COMMIT SUICIDE WE WILL HELP YOU.
In May 1987 William Booth called George Railton and his son Bramwell to revue the E.L.C.M. annual report, written at the top of the paper were the words The christian mission is a volutary society, but Bramwell objected strongly to those words " I am no volunteer, I must serve." His father took his pencil and put a line through those words and wrote in their place THE SALVATION ARMY.

1 comment:

alex.vonderbecke said...

"In May 1987 William Booth"? 1987? I doubt it somehow...