Wise Up

General Bramwell Booth

“Every land is my fatherland, for all lands are my Father’s.” By Major Billy Francis
Wise Up

On March 8, 1856, Reverend William and Catherine Booth rejoiced on the safe arrival of their firstborn. They named him William Bramwell after the well-known Methodist preacher. While all of William and Catherine’s children became engaged in what would become The Salvation Army, family harmony at times veered to strong disagreement. Two of the children became Generals. Three of the children eventually left the organization.

In his early teens, Bramwell Booth became his father’s faithful, loyal assistant. Three years after changing the Christian Mission’s name to The Salvation Army, William Booth named Bramwell as the Chief of the Staff. Thirty-one years later, Bramwell was appointed General following his father’s death in 1912.  

The family affectionately referred to Bramwell as “Willie.” As a young man, he faced many physical challenges, including minor hearing loss. He struggled with a fear of public speaking.  

In 1882, Bramwell married Captain Florence Eleanor Soper, who had joined The Salvation Army in 1880 and worked in France with Bramwell’s sister, Catherine Booth. Bramwell and Florence had seven children and all became active in the Army’s ministry.

Throughout his life, Bramwell fought for the passage of laws to protect the poor and vulnerable. In 1885, he partnered with the famed English newspaper editor and pioneer of investigative journalism, William Thomas Stead. Together, they publicized the widespread prostitution of young women. The graphic exposure of how 13-year-old Eliza Armstrong was sold for £5 (approximately $1.00) resulted in the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act that raised the age of consent to sixteen years.

The early years of General Bramwell Booth’s leadership were complicated by World War I, threatening the international governance of The Salvation Army. There were Salvationists in both Germany and Great Britain. The General navigated these challenging political waters so that both German and British public opinion supported the Army. In his Christmas message of 1915, he affirmed that “Every land is my fatherland, for all lands are my Father’s.” 

On June 16, 1929, four months after the Army’s High Council elected his successor, Edward Higgins, Bramwell’s family surrounded his bedside. In the evening, General Bramwell Booth was, in the delightfully graphic Army nomenclature, “Promoted to Glory.” 

So What?

Bramwell Booth is an example of someone whose convictions led him to moments of insight and inspiration which compelled him to ‘do something’! What insights are tugging at your heartstring today? What difference will you be making for the Kingdom tomorrow?

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