Abraham believed that angels help us find our mates. “The Lord will send his angel ahead of you,” he told his servant, “to help you find a wife for my son” (Gen. 24:7b). Many years later, the heavenly matchmakers (assisted by a London businessman) also brought together William Booth and Catherine Mumford, who became one of the finest tag teams in church history, founding the Salvation Army and helping hundreds of thousands of England’s poorest. Of the two, Catherine was smarter—and the better preacher. “It was she,” wrote Constance Coltman, “who turned an energetic, rather vulgar dyspeptic into one of the great religious leaders in the world.”*

William was born in 1829 in Nottingham. Catherine arrived the following year in a nearby county, growing up in a Puritan-like home. She had read the Bible through eight times before age 12, and she excelled in her studies. But at 14 Catherine developed curvature of the spine, making her bedfast. She was also diagnosed with tuberculosis. But her sickbed became a study where she devoured theology and church history. She slowly grew strong enough to start thinking of marriage. “I could be most useful to God,” she said, “as a minister’s wife.” She wanted a man dark and tall, and she thought he should be a “William.”

Several years later, businessman Edward Rabbits, knowing both William and Catherine’s people, invited them to a meeting on Good Friday. Afterward, he encouraged William to escort Catherine home. She later wrote, “That little journey will never be forgotten by either of us. Before we reached my home we both felt as though we had been made for each other.”

For a few weeks, the romance wavered. Despite a growing reputation as an evangelist to the poor, William had no job, no income, and no home. Catherine’s mother viewed him unfavorably. Nevertheless, they persevered and were married in London on June 16, 1855.

William preached a revival meeting on their honeymoon. The angels were smiling. The Salvation Army was about to be born.

Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, But a woman who honors the Lord deserves to be praised. Show her respect—Praise her in public for what she has done. (Proverbs 31:30-31)

Robert J. Morgan, On This Day: 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). June 15.

* Quoted by Norman H. Murdoch in “The Army Mother,” Christian History, Issue 26 (Volume IX, No. 2), p. 5.


1660The British House of Commons passed a resolution to burn books of John Milton that had championed the Parliamentarian rebellion against Charles I and argued for the legitimacy of that king’s execution. The books were burned on 27 August 1660.

1752 – Death at Bath of Bishop Joseph Butler, whose head-on challenge of his own doubts had led him to write Analogy of Religion Natural and Revealed to the Constitution and Course of Nature (1736), a highly original and famous apologetic that answered Deism. It had quickly become a textbook for ecclesiastical students.

1833John Henry Newman, while traveling on a ship from Italy to France, pens the words to the hymn, “Lead Kindly Light Amid the Encircling Gloom.”

1948Rufus M. Jones, an American Quaker theologian died at Haverford, Pennsylvania. Through his writings and articles, he did much to advance Quaker social action. He had also helped found the American Friends Service Committee.

Accessed ChristianHistoryInstitute.org 15 June 2022.

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