On this day in 1912, William Booth “laid down his sword”

On this day 100 years ago, Salvationists around the world were informed that their faithful leader and servant, General William Booth – Founder of The Salvation Army – had “laid down his sword”
and passed away in his home of Hadley Wood, London surrounded by his family.

In the 47 years from when he started The Salvation Army, Booth’s dedication to providing “soup, soap and salvation” to those in need helped establish the Army’s services to the poor and marginalized in 58 countries.

“Soup” meant meeting the material needs of the poor: shelters, soup kitchens, job training and work programs.

The second step, “soap”, acknowledged one’s need for good clothing and cleanliness, the essentials for good self-esteem, confidence and dignity.

The vital last step is salvation. Booth famously said, “No one gets a blessing if they have cold feet and nobody ever got saved while they had toothache!”.

Booth’s passing stirred a rush of tributes from around the globe. President Howard Taft wrote that the Founder’s “long life and great talents were dedicated to the noble work of helping the poor and weak and giving them another chance to attain success and happiness”.

The Salvation Army uses the expression “Promoted to Glory” when referring to the death of a Salvationist, a phrase originally coined by William Booth’s son, Herbert Booth, that epitomizes the church’s optimistic view of death.

The term came from the hymn of the same name:

Summoned home, the call has sounded,
Bidding a soldier his warfare cease;
And the song of angels resounded,
Welcomes a warrior to eternal peace.
Praise the Lord! from earthly struggles
A comrade has found release.

Kevin Sims, of the Communications Section at International Headquarters said it perfectly: “This centenary of the General’s ‘promotion to Glory’ should be treated as just that – a ‘promotion’; a moving on, a stepping forward. We do not reflect morbidly on what has been lost but instead we celebrate the legacy and influence of a great man who, 100 years ago, went to meet his maker and claim his eternal reward.”

A century later, The Salvation Army serves the poor and oppressed in 125 countries and growing, a testament of Booth’s legacy and God’s provision for nations in need through the work of one extraordinary man.

Approximately 40,000 people attended William Booth's graveside service.


Many thanks to The Salvation Army Southern Spirit Online for some of the information above.