William Booth was born in Nottingham, England to an Anglican family. At thirteen he was converted in a Wesleyan Chapel in London. Soon his growing burden for the souls of men led him to begin bringing street people to the church.
Mr. Booth, whose job as a pawnbroker showed him the need of London's poorest, began preaching at 17. He brought so many of the poor and ragged drunkards to church that he was asked to leave. He was the pastor of a Methodist church until 1861 when he withdrew from the denomination.
In 1865 Booth came across a group of evangelists who were struggling to hold an open air meetings. Such was Booth's impact that he was invited to become the leader of the group. His first words to his wife when he returned home later in the day were: 'Kate, I've found my destiny!'
This small band of evangelists was the seed from which The Salvation Army grew. First they called themselves 'The Christian Revival Society' then they became 'The Christian Mission' finally in the autumn of 1878 they declared themselves to be 'The Salvation Army'. These changes of name prove their growing vision of a calling from God to engage in all out, no holds barred, war like mission in the name of Christ.
During his lifetime, the Salvation Army remained focused on salvation as opposed to the social gospel which is its trademark today. It is believed that more than 2,000,000 souls were converted by this great work.
When Queen Victoria asked Mr. Booth the secret of his ministry, he replied, "I guess it is because God knows I am hungering to keep souls out of Hell!" William Booth died at the age of 83, still seeking to win men and women to Christ.