At Easter William and Catherine Booth had a mission in Hartlepool. Things went so well that Catherine remained behind for ten days to continue the services and 250 were added to the church.
A letter to her parents.
'We came here on Thursday afternoon for the Easter anniversary meetings. I preached on Good Friday morning to a full chapel, William on Sunday morning and I again in the afternoon to a chapel packed, aisles and pulpit stairs while many turned away unable to get in. This morning William returned to Gateshead to attend our Tea meeting at Bethesda. I am staying here to preach again tonight and shall return all well, tomorrow. There were many under the conviction last evening, whom I hope to see converted tonight. The Lord has been very graciously present with me hitherto and has given me great influence and liberty. I’m in my element in the work and only regret that I did not commence years ago. Oh, to live for souls! It is a dark, sinful world and a comparatively dead and useless Church. May God pour out his spirit!
‘You will be surprised to find I am still here, but so it is. I told you I had to stay on Monday evening. Well, the Lord came down amongst the people so gloriously that I dare not leave, so the friends telegraphed William and I remained. I preached again on Tuesday evening. The chapel was full. I gave an invitation and the Lord helped me as I think He never did before. When I had done speaking there was a general move all over the chapel and the communion rail was filled with penitents again and again and again during the evening. The second time it was filled I never saw such a sight before. They were all men, with two exceptions and most of them great fine fellows of mature years. All glory to Jesus!
I preached again on the Wednesday and Friday evenings and also gave two addresses on holiness and the Lord was very graciously with me. About 100 names were taken during the week and besides these I should think we have had half the members up to seek a clear sense of their acceptance. On Saturday night we had a glorious fellowship meeting. Oh, it would have rejoiced your hearts to have heard one after another bless God for bringing your feeble and unworthy child to Hartlepool! ! I shall never forget that meeting on Earth or in heaven!
I was published to preach at night and a quarter of an hour before the time the chapel was wedged so full that the people were drifting away, when it was announced to the crowd outside that Mr Williams should preach in the schoolroom under the chapel at the same time. It is a splendid place, capable of holding nearly 500 and not only was it full but they told me numbers went away unable to get in. I preached in the chapel on the judgement and experienced great liberty. The people listened as though they already realised the dread tribunal. Oh, it was indeed a solemn season! For some time we carried on both prayer meetings, then we amalgamated, allowing the people to remain in the gallery, which they did till nearly 10 o’clock. We had upwards of 40 cases of conversion. If we had had more efficient help at the communion rail we should’ve got many more, but there was not room for them and the people of God are awfully ignorant of the right way to lead penitents to Christ. The Lord have mercy on a half-asleep church!
The friends were thoroughly taken by surprise. They were perfectly bewildered last night. They seemed lost in wonder and awe. I believe we had some of the most respectable people and also some of the greatest reprobates in the town and yet during the whole service I saw but one irreverent look or gesture. They all seemed as solemn as death and I believe many went away with the arrows of the Almighty in their souls. May the great day reveal it! The friends tell me that I get numbers every night who never before put their heads inside a place of worship. I give an address this evening, principally to the new converts and tomorrow morning I return home. It seems a thousand pities to have to leave such a work, but I suppose I must.’
Three weeks later
‘We had a splendid day, chapel wedged at night and numbers turned away unable to get in. Good prayer meeting and 17 cases. It was like beginning over again after three weeks cessation of special effort. The friends expressed themselves as highly gratified, even more so than on any former occasion. I heard a great deal of gracious and heart sharing intelligence, with reference to those brought in during my previous visit. They reckon to get 80 good and permanent members for their own church and have handed the names of 40 to other denominations. The news of this work has spread far and near and is bringing me fresh invitations. I expect to be at Salem, Newcastle, twice next Sunday.'
From, 'Catherine Booth, the mother of the Salvation Army', Volume I, by Booth-Tucker, pages 216-221.
Now converted flats.