It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them," said Evangeline Cory Booth. When Evangeline died on this day, July 17, 1950, she had put her 85 own years to good use.
The youngest daughter of William and Catherine Booth (founders of the Salvation Army), she was born in 1865, the same year that it was founded. Her name was taken from the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, in which little Eva St. Claire was a Christian heroine.
Evangeline inherited her parents' flair for ministry and salesmanship. She began preaching at the age of fifteen. Given her own leadership post two years later, she won the nickname "White Angel of the Slums." Sometimes, she wore the same tattered clothes as the flower girls in order to minister to them. Full of tact, charm, inventiveness and good spirits--not to mention good looks, she had a knack for solving problems and dramatizing the Salvation Army cause. In fact, she became an Army troubleshooter. General William Booth sent Eva in when persecutions broke out or a local branch of the Army was in disarray.
When the American leaders of the Salvation Army disagreed with General William Booth (splitting to found the Volunteers of America) it was Evangeline whom the general sent to solve the organization's woes. She succeeded. Eventually, she was appointed leader of the American work and became an American citizen. In 1934, she became general of the world wide movement, a position she held for five years.
Evangeline's style was to work herself to exhaustion for weeks or months, rest a few days, and then begin the cycle over again. Nonetheless, she enjoyed life thoroughly. She rode horses and loved diving. Horses weren't her only rides: she was the first prominent Salvationist to try a bicycle. Another means of relaxation was playing musical instruments such as the harp.
In her travels, Evangeline delivered powerful lectures. Many of these were gathered into a volume titled Toward a Better World. "The better world is the home as well as the sure reward for the faithful unto death. They may have dreary and disappointing experience on earth: hard toil for the hands, sickness of the body, anxiety at the home, patched clothes on the back, and, maybe, rejected love in the heart; but neither principalities, nor powers, nor things present, not things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall close against them the gates of THE BETTER WORLD."
Among her many writings were hymns. Perhaps the most famous was "The World for God."
The world for God! The world for God!
There's nothing else will meet the hunger of my soul...
Evangeline's death was from arteriosclerosis. She was buried near White Plains, New York.
- Booth, Evangeline Cory. Toward a Better World. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1928).
- "Evangeline Booth: Orator and Preacher." http://www.heritage.nf.ca/cns_archives/ 31riggsoct16_1997.html
- "Evangeline Cory Booth." http://www.cyberhymnal.org
- "Evangeline Cory Booth." http://www.sensato.com/1921/18booth.htm
- Terms of Empowerment; Salvation Army Women in Ministry. Salvation Army, 2001.
Last updated July, 2007