EVANGELINE | Honoring General Evangeline Booth during Women's History Month

Mar 1, 2017 | by Kathy Lovin

On Dec. 6, 1934, at London's famous Royal Albert Hall, Evangeline Booth became the fourth General of The Salvation Army.

She was the first woman, and the final member of the Booth family to hold that office, which had also been held by her father, William Booth, and his son Bramwell.

In Songs of the Evangel, published in 1937, Evangeline talks about her response to being named the Salvation Army's international leader. At 3 a.m., "bowed under the immeasurable burden of the stupendous responsibilities of the call that had come to me," Evangeline wrote a new hymn called "The World for God!" 

The hymn's refrain captures her personal promise and one that she hoped every person in The Salvation Army would embrace: "I give my heart! I'll do my part!"

Evangeline was born on Christmas Day in 1865. That's also the year General William and Catherine Booth founded The Salvation Army. Although she was christened Eveline, her father always called her Eva. She was known by that name until she changed it to Evangeline, which she considered to be more "euphonious."

At an early age, Evangeline took on major leadership responsibilities in the fledgling Salvation Army. At 17, she was preaching; at 20, she was in charge of a corps (church) in Marylebone, which occupied the largest building then owned by the Army; at 22, she assumed responsibility for all Army programs in and around London; and at 30, she was appointed to lead The Salvation Army in Canada. Then, at age 38, she became national commander of The Salvation Army in the US.

Evangeline had a flair for the dramatic. As a teenager, disguised as a street vendor, she sold hot potatoes from a cart so she could experience what it was like "to be poor and cold and lonely." And when, in 1914, she led the 700-strong, cowboy-hat-wearing, American delegation in a parade at The Salvation Army's fourth international congress in London, she did so mounted on a horse.

During her 30-year command of American forces, The Salvation Army made great strides. 

The public's devotion to The Salvation Army grew as Evangeline's troops responded to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, provided "doughnut lassies" who ministered behind the front lines to American servicemen in World War I, and opened soup kitchens during the Great Depression. 

After five busy years as General, Evangeline bade farewell to her forces around the world through a message in The Salvation Army's official publication, called The War Cry: "As General, my first charge to you was, Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. My last word to you as General is again, Preach Jesus Christ. Preach Christ ... as the Supreme Gift to a world lost without Him."

She lived and served as she preached. She gave her heart and did her part to win "The World for God."

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