Farewell to the Founder
by R. G. Moyles
Army General William Booth, nearly blind and suffering seizures toward
the end of his life, often said he had no time to think about death.
Even at 84 years old, he resolved to “keep fighting,” preaching,
writing, traveling and leading his soldiers as long as he possibly
could. He never took a vacation and only stopped working when illness
forced him to rest. One newspaper editor described him as “an
inexhaustible fount of energy.”
Farewell to the Founder, Crest Books’ tribute to the 100th
anniversary of Booth’s Promotion to Glory, includes a moving account of
his last days on earth, his death and funeral and global reaction to the
loss of a great evangelist. In the late nineteenth century, the Army
had already begun to shift from an evangelical group to a formal
religious community with a social service mission, marking a seminal
turning point in its role. Bramwell Booth, the new General, would have
to face that fact.
Condolences poured in from presidents and prime ministers, emperors,
kings and queens, church leaders and politicians. More than 100,000
people from all classes of society waited in line for hours to pay their
respects at a four-day public viewing at Congress Hall in London. On
the day of the funeral, which was designated an official half-holiday,
more than two million people lined the streets of London to see the
five–mile–long funeral procession pass by. In remembering William
Booth’s death, we can more deeply appreciate the impact of his passion
for saving souls and serving suffering humanity.
R. Gordon Moyles is a Professor Emeritus at The University of Alberta in
Edmonton, Canada. He has written several books, including William Booth in America (2010), Exploring Salvation Army History (2009), Come Join Our Army (2008) and I Knew William Booth (2007).