*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is on the 26th of August, 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
We have met a few Booths on this show over the years- from General William and his wife Catherine to their son Bramwell and daughter Evangeline. They were the founders of the Salvation Army- a curiously resilient group of radical and social reformers that originated in the United Kingdom. William and Catherine had a second son, Ballington who was something of a rebel (although in his missionary work) and he would marry a woman named Maud Charlesworth, a similarly rebellious Christian daughter of a minister.
Maud Charlesworth was born in 1865 to Maria and Samuel Charlesworth. Maria was involved in local ministries to the poor in England while Samuel gave up his law practice to become an Anglican minister. Their service to the poor in the name of Jesus was not lost on young Maud.
Samuel was an Anglican but allowed the “Christian Mission” to use his property for outreach events for the poor. Maud saw that the Christian Mission had both women and men preaching and she soon became, to the chagrin of her father, a volunteer with the Christian Mission (which would quickly change its name to the Salvation Army). Having been raised by a French nanny, Maud would travel with Catherine Booth to Paris, where she would preach. They went to Geneva where she was arrested for preaching and then booted from the country.
When Maud decided to marry Ballington Booth her father refused. Since she was only 18 she would have to wait until she was 21 to marry and in the meantime would become estranged from her family.
After working with the SA in Sweden and the London Slums, she finally married Ballington Booth- taking his full name- Maud Ballington Booth as her own in 1886.
William then sent the newlyweds to New York where the ministry was floundering. On the journey across the Atlantic, the couple was introduced to a few New York socialites who took an interest in their church to the poor. This taught them about high society in America and they could negotiate that into paying down the mission's debt and creating a flourishing ministry.
IN 1894 General Booth made his first trip to the US to see the New York ministry branch. He was put off by using the American Flag and Eagle in the SA offices and claimed that his son and daughter-in-law had become “too American”. A fight ensued and the younger Booths stopped associating with the Salvation Army.
Luckily, Maud's father, the Reverend Charlesworth reconciled with the couple and sent them money to hold them over while they determined what to do next.
They would organize “God’s American Volunteers”- soon changed to the “Volunteers of America” with the expressed mission to “reach and uplift all people and bring them to the immediate knowledge and active service of God.”
The two would be ordained- in a very novel American fashion- by calling an interdenominational group of pastors who would collectively consecrate them to their ministry. Within six months of the founding of the Volunteers, they had hundreds of workers across three regiments and ten battalions (they kept the military rhetoric of the SA).
Maud would find her particular niche in prison ministry. Prisons were notoriously underfunded, and prisoners were left to rot in cells- this was a long way from the initial American “penitentiary” that sought to reform the offender.
Maud would gather prisoners into the Volunteer Prison League- groups of prisoners agreeing to uplift one another and encourage and keep the rules. This would lead to the creation of “Hope Houses,” which were like the modern “halfway house” wherein the reformed prisoners could show their commitment to becoming contributing members of society. By 1912 some 7,500 had graduated from the initial four Hope Houses.
Maud would take over as the General of the Volunteers of America in 1940 when Balllington died. She would serve for another 8 years until her death on the 26th of August in 1948. Born in 1865, Maud Ballington Booth was 82 years old.
The Last Word for today comes from the lectionary for today from 1 Peter 4:
7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 26th of August 2022 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man forever scared out of a life of crime after watching Ernest Goes to Jail- he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who has attempted to keep his young boys from a life of crime by showing them the 90s HBO prison drama “Oz.” I’m Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.