Archive for June, 2015

It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them.

Evangeline Cory Booth.


Eva booth 3Evangeline Cory Booth was a Christian social reformer who dedicated her entire life to helping the poor. In the United States today we still revere the Salvation Army as a great humanitarian organization that relieves the suffering of the impoverished and aids in disaster relief. As a leader in the Salvation Army, Evangeline brought comfort to the poor and the downtrodden. Evangeline was a great speaker, evangelist, fundraiser, and organizer.

Evangeline (Eva) Cory Booth, the seventh of eight children born to William and Catherine Booth, was born in London on December 25, 1865.

In a previous posting (12-13-12) we related the story of her mother who was known as the Mother of the Salvation Army – Catherine Booth. Together with her husband William Booth, Catherine began her ministry to the very poorest of the poor in England. They trusted God to provide for them as they visited the downtrodden in the inner cities where they knew that they would receive no pay for their work. Catherine was so grateful for her own salvation that all she could think of for the rest of her life was to tell others about Jesus.

Catherine and William Booth put feet and hands into the Gospel message by working among the outcasts – prostitutes, alcoholics, and criminals. The founded the little Whitechapel mission that became The Christian Mission that would eventually become the Salvation Army.

This Army of Christ would be made up of men and women. At first, William did the only speaking at evangelistic meetings but eventually Catherine would speak at many of the meetings encouraged by her husband.

And the Booth’s children, even the daughters would follow in their parents’ footsteps and become involved in full time mission work as well. As a child Eva would often sing or play music at her parents’ evangelistic meetings. When she was fifteen, Eva began preaching.

The Booth daughters were not ordained and did not serve in parishes. They filled the roles of ministers and evangelists. They conducted Camp Meetings along with many other nineteenth century evangelists. Old timers remembered the “battle for souls” waged by the Army. Often hundreds would respond to the Gospel with penitence.

William was proud of his daughter’s speaking ability and encouraged her. Eva also had great organizational skills. William promoted Eva to the rank of Field Commissioner in the Army. Eva became head of the Army’s International Training College and the head of the Salvation Army in London for five years.

Her father’s favorite, William also recognized Eva’s skill as a reconciler. When trouble flared up, William would send Eva in as a trouble-shooter to calm the waters. Eva was charming and tactful and could disperse angry mobs and soothe dissenting leaders.

Eva’s sisters married, but Eva herself would remain single for the rest of her life. At one time sheevangeline booth 1 wanted to marry a Salvation Army major, Thomas McKie, but William rejected the man’s request for his daughter’s hand. William believed that Eva could serve the Salvation Army best as a single officer. Later Eva did adopt and raise four children, one of whom, Pearl, grew up to become a Salvation Army officer herself.

Eva became the Territorial Commander of the Salvation Army in Canada from 1896-1904. At this time her sister, Emma Booth-Tucker and her husband headed up the Salvation Army in the United States. Emma and her husband were killed in a tragic train accident in 1903. Eva was appointed head of the Salvation Army in the USA in 1904. She changed her name to Evangeline and went on to serve as the Commander of the American Salvation Army for thirty years.

It was during her first Christmas in New York when Evangeline began the work that we are most familiar with today – providing food for starving children. When Evangeline heard that there were over 70,000 children going without breakfast, she organized the effort to collect money to feed over 30,000 people on Christmas day.

Evangeline threw herself into her work tirelessly. She expanded the work of the Army by setting up soup kitchens, emergency shelters, opportunities for the unemployed, hospitals for unwed mothers, work in prisons, and homes for the elderly. Evangeline Residences were opened to provide a safe place for working women to live.

People remember Evangeline as a compassionate woman, thoughtful and kind, genuinely sympathetic with the poor and downtrodden, and a dedicated evangelist.

Evangeline had a magnetic personality and was able to hold audiences spellbound for hours. She could charm large fortunes out of the wealthy for the Army.

Evangeline responded with emergency relief assistance after the earthquake and fire in San Francisco in 1906. This was the first time the Army organized a large-scale relief effort for a natural disaster. These efforts have continued to this day.

booth_whiteHouseDuring World War I, Evangeline persuaded the US government to allow the women in the Salvation Army to serve overseas. One of the women came up with the idea of making doughnuts for the solders. It was a huge success. Soldiers were grateful and appreciative for the “doughnut girls” who were brave enough to serve the men in the front lines. President Wilson awarded Evangeline the Distinguished Service Medal in 1919 for her service.

In 1923 Evangeline adopted the United States as her permanent home becoming a naturalized citizen.

Evangeline became the International Commander-in-Chief in 1934, the first woman General for the International Salvation Army. She launched her “World for God” campaign and began traveling and speaking all over the world. For five years Evangeline was the Salvation Army’s leader in over fifty countries. On her travels she inspected the Army stations and initiated new work throughout the world in such places as India, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. At one of her meetings in India Evangeline drew a crowd of over twenty thousand people. She spoke for an hour and 5000 people seeking salvation responded to her message with prayer.

While Evangeline was significant in the growth of the Salvation Army worldwide, she is mostly remembered for her work in the United States. Evangeline played the most significant role in winning the respect for the Salvation Army that it still enjoys today. One can still go anywhere in the United States at the Christmas season and see the Army volunteers, the familiar bell ringers, collecting money for the poor.

Evangeline led the army in the USA for thirty years and her followers stayed devoted to her until her death in 1950 in Hartsdale, New York at the age of 84. At her funeral a Salvation Army commander said, “She created homes for the homeless, friends for the friendless, and jobs for the jobless. Against tremendous odds, she established faith and hope where it had not existed before.”

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O my soul, mayest thou ever remain upon the altar of sacrifice; and Thou, my strength and righteousness, forbid that any unhallowed act should ever cause its removal! It is by Thy power alone, O God that I am kept. Here shall I ever feel the cleansing efficacy. Here shall my soul fill and expand – fill and expand – till it shall burst its tenement, and faith shall be lost in sight. (Phoebe Palmer, The Way of Holiness)

Phoebe-Palmer-1Phoebe Palmer, the Mother of the Holiness Movement, was a devout Christian wife, mother, evangelist, and writer. Last week we looked at the details of her life including her conversion, calling, and work both as an evangelist and a devoted worker for the poor and downtrodden.

Phoebe was a prolific and popular writer. It is hard in our day with our word processors to imagine how many hours Phoebe spent writing letters by hand. She always took time to write back to people even if she didn’t know them when they wrote to her asking for her advice on personal problems. She responded to many inquiries about her doctrine of Holiness (Entire Sanctification) that was different from the traditional view of sanctification for Methodists who followed Wesley.

Phoebe promoted her own views on sanctification in her writing. In her early life as a Methodist, Phoebe followed the Wesleyan view of sanctification. Wesley’s emphasis was on the disciplined life that would eventually lead to the “perfect love”. Wesley taught that while some might experience sanctification at any moment, in most cases, sanctification would only come after years of spiritual growth and walking with Christ.

As Phoebe studied the Bible she became convinced that it was unnecessary to wait for this blessing. She believed that it was available to every Christian the moment they believed and sacrificed everything “on the altar of Christ”. The Christian need only consecrate himself to God on this “altar” and claim the promise of the “perfect love”. Phoebe took the apostle Paul’s admonition in his letter to the Romans literally. “Therefore I urge you brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

She now saw that holiness, instead of being an attainment beyond her reach, was a state of grace inway of holiness cover which every one of he Lord’s redeemed ones should live – that the service was indeed a “reasonable service,” inasmuch as the command, “Be ye holy,” is founded upon the absolute right which God, as our Creator, Preserver, and Redeemer, has upon the entire service of his creatures. (From “The Way of Holiness”)

Through her writing, speaking, and camp meetings Phoebe’s “shorter way” to sanctification became very popular. Between 1880 and 1905, some 100,000 people broke away from the established denomination to form a new one specifically to focus on the new “shorter way” to sanctification. Phoebe became the most influential woman in the American Methodist Church.

Besides a voluminous number of letters, Phoebe wrote eighteen books on practical theology, biography, and poetry.

Phoebe wrote three major books in the 1840’s – The Way of Holiness, Entire Devotion to God, and Faith and its Effects. Later books included Promise of the Father, and its shortened version, Tongues of Fire on the Daughters of the Lord.

In 1858 Walter Palmer, her husband, purchased a popular periodical called Guide to Holiness. Phoebe took over the editorship and circulation grew from thirteen thousand to nearly forty thousand.

PromiseFather-LLIn her book, Promise of the Father, Phoebe argued on biblical grounds for a woman’s right to speak in public. She used the story in Acts 2 of the Holy Spirit pouring out His blessing on men and women alike at Pentecost to show that women as well as men could not only speak publicly, but had a duty to do so. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter said, “And it shall be in the last days”, God says, “that I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, … even on My bond slaves, both men and women.” The prophet Joel had foretold this event many years before (Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17,18); hence the title of the book, Promise of the Father.

While Phoebe believed that women had a duty to witness for Christ, even in public meetings, she did not push for ordination of women. She encouraged women to remain in the traditional spheres for women.

However, she believed that there were occasionally times when God would raise up exceptionally gifted women for leadership. She pointed to Deborah (Judges 4 & 5), Huldah (2 Kings 22), and Priscilla (Acts 18) as several examples of women in leadership in the Bible. And of course, in the New Testament, we see that women as well as men were to study their Bibles and equip themselves for Kingdom work.

In the nineteenth century the Church had been growing cold. Liberal theologies were creeping into the seminaries. This was translating into weak preaching in the pulpits. Phoebe was concerned that true, pious Christians, both men and women, were remaining passive to the gifts of the Spirit. It did not help that women, who made up one half of the army of Christ, were told to remain silent.

“What if”, Phoebe asked, “women had been encouraged to testify to their salvation publicly? What if women were encouraged to take the Gospel to every creature as Christ commanded? Would not the help of the women have hastened the advance of the Great Commission?” The church was slowing down the advance of the Kingdom of God by not employing its women.

Phoebe’s teaching had results. Women began to speak out in the holiness movement. They testified to their experience of sanctification. They accepted the idea that “in the last days” God poured out His Holy Spirit on sons and daughters. Women would not shirk their duty to testify to the work of God in their lives. Pious females would bring souls to Christ as they followed Jesus.

Phoebe also wrote poetry. Phoebe’s constant pray was that she always be close to God. She desired to live in the way of holiness all of her life. This prayer is expressed in the last verse of her poem, “The Royal Heir”.

Thy soul, thy body, and thy every power
Was purchased unto Him and Him alone,
And not one day – no, not one passing hour,
Canst thou by virtual right use as thine own;
The Lord’s free servant, thy Redeemer’s claim,
Sealed with His blood’s deep, traceless signature;
Then go forth in His might – work in His name –
Prove faithful until death – they crown is sure.

Phoebe was secure in her calling from God. She relied on God daily to bless her work. Her devotion to God in ministry lasted for 37 years. Besides speaking and writing Phoebe started ministries for the poor out of her tremendous compassion for the lost and downtrodden. Many of these outreaches are still with us today.  We praise God for bold servants like Phoebe Palmer. The church would be so different if she had not been faithful.


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Phoebe Palmer was known as “the Priscilla who had taught many an Apollos the way of God more perfectly.” (Timothy L. Smith)

In this coming series of posts we will look at the stories of some leading Christian women of the 19th century. These women received a call from God to minister in various ways. They all strived in their duty to serve God by caring for the poor or downtrodden. They all held to the traditional stations in life for women, but they did not avoid speaking in public just because of their gender. They saw leadership positions as being for men generally, as it was in the Bible. However they also noted the women in the Bible that God occasionally used to accomplish His work. Deborah (Judges 4 & 5), Huldah (2 Kings 22), and Priscilla (Acts 18) are proof that some women are called and equipped to lead God’s people.

In the next few posts we will look at the lives of three women who were primarily evangelists who ministered with their husbands as they thought proper for women – Phoebe Palmer, Catherine Booth and Hannah Whitall Smith.

phoebe-palmer-03Phoebe Palmer was born to Henry and Dorothea Wade Worrall in 1807. Her parents were active and devoted members of the Methodist Episcopal church in New York. Phoebe grew up in a home where religious observance was taken seriously. Her family gathered twice a day to sing hymns, read the Bible, and pray. Grace was said before and after every meal.

When Phoebe was thirteen she made her faith her own by acknowledging Christ as savior and joining the church. Shortly after this Phoebe felt that something was lacking in her experience and she began to pray for a fuller assurance of faith.

At age nineteen Phoebe married Walter Clarke Palmer, a homeopathic doctor. Walter had also been raised in a devout Methodist home. Sadly, their first two children died in infancy. Phoebe took this as a sign that she had given too much attention to family to the complete neglect of religious things. From now on she said, “Jesus must and shall have the uppermost seat in my heart.”

Phoebe then had a baby daughter, Sarah, who lived to adulthood. Phoebe’s fourth child died in a nursery fire. Again she interpreted this tragic event as a prompting from God that she was not as ” spiritual” as she ought to be. Phoebe began to seek a more intense spiritual experience.

On July 26, 1837, Phoebe had the experience of a “full assurance of faith” that she had been seeking for so many years. She later wrote, “New light burst upon my soul. The Holy Spirit took of the things of God, and revealed them unto me. It was by the unfolding of this passage to my understanding: ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service’” (Romans 12:1). Phoebe believed that up to this time she had not surrendered her whole being to God. She also believed that now that she had given herself completely to God, the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ would keep her sanctified.

At around age thirty, Phoebe began to help her sister Sarah Lankford with prayer meetings. In 1840 Sarah moved away and Phoebe assumed the leadership. These meetings became known as the Tuesday Meetings for the Promotion of Holiness and Phoebe would continue these for the next twenty years. Phoebe’s ministry influenced hundreds of people including many Methodist ministers and several bishops.

Other women were inspired to begin prayer meetings and dozens of groups sprang up around the country. One special thing about these prayer meetings was that Christians from many denominations would gather and lay aside their petty sectarian differences in order to pray together. Phoebe’s influence reached to Congregationalists, Episcopalians, Baptists, and Quakers. All of these Christians had sweet fellowship as they sought the Lord in prayer.

Though Phoebe is more often remembered as the Mother of the Holiness Movement, she believed in putting her faith into action in practical ways as well. Phoebe helped to establish the Hedding Church. This mission was under the auspices of the Ladies Home Missionary Society and was an early example of what would later become the settlement houses. Phoebe also served as an officer in The New York Female Assistance Society for the Relief and Religious Instruction of the Sick Poor for ten years.

Phoebe distributed tracts in slums and visited prisons. She founded the Five Points Mission that fivepointsmiss2fullhoused twenty poor families and provided them with shelter, food, schooling and religious training. Again these would become aspects of the later settlement houses.

Phoebe’s one passion in her life was to be a “Bible Christian”. In addition to all of her ministry activities Phoebe was a student of the Word of God. Phoebe did not hesitate to challenge religious doctrine that she believed was unbiblical.

As a Methodist Phoebe was influenced by Wesley and early in her ministry her thought was very close to the strong “holiness” doctrine of John Wesley. Later Phoebe would come up with her own teaching on sanctification that differed somewhat from Wesley. (See Part 2.) Phoebe believed that once a Christian laid their whole life on the altar the sanctified life began.

Methodist_camp_meeting_1819_engraving-source-wikimedia-commonsIn 1858 Phoebe’s husband Walter cut back on his homeopathic medical business and joined Phoebe in her ministry. Phoebe traveled with her husband and helped to conduct the famous Camp Meetings in the summers. At these meetings Phoebe “preached” primarily on sanctification. Phoebe did not believe it was right for women to preach, but believed that she was able to exhort at the meetings since her husband was with her and he gave sermons at the meetings.

During this period of time a holiness revival was spreading across America. It spread to England and Phoebe and her husband were invited to speak to large audiences in Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, and many other places.

Phoebe ministered for 37 years, though she suffered from serious health problems. She often had to take out time for rest and recuperation. By the time of her death, she had taken to her bed with blindness, kidney disease, and heart trouble. She died on November 2, 1874 at the age of sixty-six. Her husband Walter wrote, “She was an angel on earth. She was the model mother, the loving wife, the perfect Christian lady. She was God’s chosen one, and faithfully did she obey the instructions of His word.”

Phoebe was a prolific writer. Besides editing “The Way of Holiness”, she also had much to say on evangelism, sanctification, and the role of women in the church. We will look at some of her writing next week.












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