The Life & Ministry of William Irvine
1895 - 1901
Revised May 5, 2013
1895, June: Wm. Irvine's Call to Service
1895, June 14: Wm. Irvine Joins The Faith Mission
1896: Wm. Irvine Sent to North of Ireland
1897: Dora Holland - The FIRST Person to Profess in the New Sect
1898, August: Wm. Irvine Becomes Superintendent of South Ireland
1991: Letter by Rev C. N. Peckham, Principal Faith Mission Bible College
Annual Workers Lists (1895 - 1905
Faith Mission Finances
Books about Faith Mission
Faith Mission Bookshops
Articles From Bright Words
Faith Mission Bible College Teaches Students about Wm Irvine
View Photo of Faith Mission Headquarters
William Irvine's Call to Service
1895 - WM. IRVINE'S CALL TO SERVICE - William Irvine took Isaiah 41:14-16 as his personal sign from God. He wrote in 1924: "Thirty years come June, the Lord gave me Isaiah 41, Fear not, thou worm Jacob and Ye poor crowd of Israel...Behold, I will make thee a new, sharp threshing instrument, having teeth. Thou shalt thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff....God gave me Isaiah 41:10-20 before I started out, and it has always been before me...It was in June 1895, that I bowed my head and asked the Lord to give me encouragement, as He had give Madam Su Yen, whose book I was reading. She opened the Book and put her finger on this spot, and when I opened my Book, it was at the same place. So much was I surprised, that I was ashamed to take it. But after reassuring myself that there was no trickery in the matter, I wrote my name and date down, little dreaming that it would all come so clear before me today, with all its glorious detail, which is impossible for me to doubt now. (March 3, 1924 Letter to Edwards)
Who was the Chinese author, Madam Su Yen, whose book impressed him Irvine much? Irvine told many people about how he received his special calling from God through his fortune cookie approach to the Bible, by opening his Bible and pointing to a verse as she had done. However, Isaiah 41 is a prophecy to the whole nation of Israel about how God would use the army of Israel to conquer the surrounding pagan nations at some point in the future. It has nothing to do with evangelism, preaching the gospel or condemning a sinner or Christian clerygmen. It is a prophecy of a real future historical natural event for the Jewish nation.
John Long also confirmed that Wm Irvine "...got
his Call to Service that Scripture: ‘Behold I will make thee a new
threshing instrument having teeth, thou shalt thresh the mountains, and
them small, and shall make the hills as dust,’ Isaiah 41:15.”
(John Long's Journal, February, 1897) John Long wrote about
very seriously his Call to Service to be The Thresher: "A
of opposition arose at that time because William Irvine spoke with
authority against the unfaithfulness of the clergy; many threw on the
but he refused to be corrected by them, believing that God had raised
up to thresh the mountains." (John Long's Journal, March, 1898)
There is no question that Wm Irvine saw himself as The Thresher with sharp teeth, beating down mountains. He felt God gave him this verse; he acted it out, and others confirmed it. He believed it and practiced it until he died; holding these verses to be HIS. The passage is one of judgment and prosecution, which he would follow and throughout his life; and which also backfired on him at various times. He saw this as his life's work. He later wrote: "What John the Baptist was to Jesus as forerunner, John the Apostle from Heaven will be to Jesus' 2nd coming. Isaiah 40 is his work, and Isaiah 41 is my work, as Jacob, with a few who share my anointing, or blessing as Israel. (January 8, 1934 Letter to Mr. Billett)
G. Pattison wrote: "You would probably have heard long since the Mr. Irvine regarded Isa. 41:15-16 as his 'Call to Service' and certainly seemed to fit in with the description given there. The threshing instrument was to be new and sharp, having teeth, and most people who knew him in those and subsequent days can well remember how well he could thresh and how sharp could be his bite, and not only so, but it was to be new, and that as I take it, both in the sense of being in the prime of life with all his powers and faculties unimpaired when he tackled the job; but being a 'new' instrument, very 'uncommon' in his methods and his 'like or equal' unknown or 'unheard of'. He could tackle new propositions as no other man could, thresh the mountains and beat small them all and make the hills as chaff etc. As I now calmly survey the field of his activities, I say deliberately and with little fear of contradiction that there was not another in all the world who could or would have dealt such deadly blows to the 'mountains' of clergy, and of clericalism and so-called organizations, or to the 'hills' of traditional social customs and usages including 'The Sunday Suit'..." (G. Pattison Accounts of the Early Days)
1895, JUNE 14: WM. IRVINE JOINS THE FAITH MISSION. After professing through Rev. John McNeill, and feeling his Call to Service, Irvine chose to associate himself with the Faith Mission. The Faith Mission is a Protestant evangelical movement founded on October 14, 1886 by John George Govan in Scotland. Wm Irvine became a pilgrim or worker with Faith Mission on June 14, 1895 when he was 32 years old. He received no formal training from Faith Mission, as they didn't start training for their pilgrims until the year 1897. He wrote about his decision:
The annual Staff of Worker List of the Faith Mission shows Wm Irvine joining the Faith Mission on June 14, 1895. See Photo of Bright Words FOURTEENTH REPORT. Be sure and click "Next" to see Annual Workers List.
The first time William Irvine's name was mentioned in a Faith Mission publication was two months after he joined them in Bright Words, August 15, 1895. His location was given as Ford Forge, about ten miles from Edinburgh: "In the south a mission is being worked by two brothers who have recently joined us, William Irvine from Queenzieburn..."
A list was compiled by Mr. John Eberstein, former president of Faith Mission, of every Pilgrim who ever joined Faith Mission, giving the date they joined and left; and the reason for their departure. This list is titled "The Official List of All Faith Mission Pilgrims." It shows that William Irvine entered their service on June 14, 1895 and left in 1901 with the notation: "founded Cooneyites in S. Ireland." Irvine was 32 years old when he joined.
At the time he joined there were 47 Faith Mission workers. Six years later when Irvine left Faith Mission, there were 62 workers total, a growth of about 2 workers a year.(Letter dated November 22, 1993 from Keith Percival, General Director of The Faith Mission.)
John Long wrote: " The Faith Mission was founded in Scotland by J. G. Govan, a Christian gentleman, in 1886 for the evangelization of country districts in Scotland and Ireland. The evangelists, who have the name of Pilgrims, went out two by two. William Irvine was then one of their staff. He was born in Kilsyth, Scotland about the year 1861. He was a collier manager for William Beard and Company, and was converted under the preaching of John McNeil, in Motherwell, [Scotland] in 1893. In nine months after he gave up his situation to go fully on the Lord's work. After spending two years in the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow, he joined the Faith Mission, then he went to preach in County Antrim, from whence he was sent by J. G. Govan to the South of Ireland to evangelize, and to thrust out workers into the harvest fields." ( John Long's Journal March, 1897)
The founder, John George Govan aka J. G. Govan, was a Scotsman born to William and Margaret Govan in Glasgow, Scotland on January 19, 1861. He had six brothers and six sisters. With no ecclesiastical credentials, when he was 25 years old, John Govan started the Faith Mission on Oct 14, 1886. In September, 1894, he married Annie Martin, who was the FM's first sister Pilgrim. In 1938, their daughter Isobel R. Govan Stewart wrote a book about the Faith Mission titled "Spirit of Revival," which is now in its 4th or possibly 5th Edition.
Headquarters for The Faith Mission are located in Edinburgh, Scotland. Their pilgrim workers (men and women) are evangelizing in Scotland, England and Ireland, where each country has its own Headquarters. Affiliated branches of The Faith Mission are established in Canada, South Africa and France. Their Bible College for training young people for work is in Edinburgh, Scotland.
They hold annual conventions, the largest one being located at Bangor, Ireland. Stradbally is the main convention in the South of Ireland. In Scotland, the second major convention is held in Edinburgh. There are also conventions at Larne, Ireland, as well as Skye and Stornoway, Scotland. Their purpose is given in a booklet titled "The Faith Mission Aims and Principles" written by their founder, J.G. Govan:
It is important to understand that the Faith Mission is NOT a church or a religion. They do not make converts and then set up churches for them to attend. They do not baptize or take communion in their services. They are a MISSION, as their name states. Therefore, while Wm. Irvine was preaching with the Faith Mission, it is most likely that he either remained a Presbyterian, the faith he was brought up in; or he did not claim association with any organized churchor denomination.
When the Founder of the Faith Mission, John G. Govan, passed away in July, 1926, John Long wrote: "Early in the month news reached us of the death of John Govan in America. Under his ministry, I was convicted, and first publicly decided for Christ in Cloughjordan about the year 1890. There were few men like him in house to house visitation and personal work, he excelled." (From: John Long's Journal, May, 1926)
BRIGHT WORDS: In 1889, the Faith Mission began to publish a monthly magazine titled Bright Words, which was later published under the title of Life Indeed, and is now published under the title: First Magazine. This publication gave news concerning Faith Mission pilgrim workers, their current locations, converts and missions, as well as spiritual articles. If interested, contact Faith Mission for a subscription, available for a nominal charge. Further details and history of this publication is found in the book Spirit of Revival by I. R. Govan, pages 81-84.
THE ANNUAL FAITH MISSION WORKER LIST: Called the "Staff of Workers," it gave two details about each worker: (1) the worker's name, and (2) the date they entered the work. The Workers Lists were in order by the year they entered the service of the Faith Mission. The founder, of course, was listed FIRST (Mr. J. G. Govan - 1886). After Mr. Govan, the workers were listed in order according to their seniority. Originally, "The mission concentrated mainly on harnessing the energies of youth, engaging in a type of itinerant evangelism better suited to unmarried workers." (Channel of Revival by Andrew A. Woolsey p 99) There are married worker couples and also sister workers on their Workers List; however, only the Superintendent workers were allowed to marry. If any other pilgrim workers did get married, they had to leave the work.
EDITORS NOTE: Can it be merely coincidental that the format of the Staff of Workers List for Faith Mission is the same as the format used for the 2x2/Go-Preacher/Cooneyite 1905 Workers List, the FIRST and earliest Workers List that has been discovered to date?? Just like the Faith Mission's list, the names of the founder, William Irvine and former Faith Mission worker John Kelly are the FIRST two names given, with "18--" shown for the date they became workers. Both married worker couples and sister workers are also found on the 2x2 1905 Workers List.
of Revival - A Century of Rural Evangelism is a book
the activities of The Faith Mission written by Rev.
N. Peckham which can be PURCHASED directly
Mr. Keith H. Percival, General Director of The Faith Mission, wrote the following statement in an email to the VOT Editor on July 22, 1999 regarding William Irvine:
"The Faith Mission is an 'interdenominational' mission working
the major Protestant denominations who accept the simple truth of the
i.e. that salvation is by faith in Christ alone.
"William Irvine was converted as a young man and joined The Faith
Mission in 1895. He worked in the South of Ireland and had very
missions within the different denominations. He became very
of these churches and started to work independently. He
broke away from The Faith Mission and became very legalistic with the
of salvation being on 'what you do' rather than by faith alone.
we believe that such faith must be expressed in one's lifestyle).
"Our magazines of that period record William Irvine's time with us. I also have the diary* of someone who worked with him in those days. Much of the Cooneyite way of working was identical to that of The Faith Mission, and was certainly not a new revelation from the Lord."
*likely the diary of John Long
"Faith Mission was founded in 1886, for the promotion of spiritual life and
godliness through the evangelising of the country districts of Scotland,
and farther afield if God leads, on unsectarian lines. Evangelists, called "Pilgrims,"
generally work in pairs. They visit a place for several weeks, more or less,
according as circumstances and the leadings of the Spirit of God seem to indicate
advisable, visiting among the people and holding meetings for the unsaved and
for Christians, in which they welcome the co-operation of all who love the Lord
Jesus in sincerity. The Mission is maintained on the faith principle, by freewill
offerings during missions and unsolicited contributions to headquarters.
The finances are divided into three distinct sections-(a) General Account ;
(b) Special Fund, for Training, etc. ; (r) Foreign Fund, including Armenian
Relief. Donors will oblige by stating clearly to which fund their contribution
is to be assigned." (Bright Words Sept, 1900)
The Faith Mission Pilgrims worked on Faith Lines--they were a FAITH Mission, in the literal sense of the term. They did not pass around a collection plate, but at times a box was placed in the back of their meeting room missions to receive donations. Their workers received donations directly. After they held a mission, both workers counted the contributions and recorded the amount in a notebook. The income from the donations were used for heating, lighting, moving halls, lodgings, etc. The workers filed a statement with FM headquarters on a quarterly basis, which included financial accounts, attendance figures and time spent visiting. All surpluses from a mission were sent to FM Headquarters regularly; deficits from a mission were met by FM Headquarters. (Information provided by Bobby Dukelow, retired FM Worker 4/16/02 to Robert Kee).
The Faith Mission Headquarters also sent each Pilgrim an allowance. Concerning the allowance amount their Pilgrims received from for the year ending September, 1900, Bright Words Annual Report it states: "The amount for maintenance of our workers is 10 pounds less (than the year 1899) and when the total amount of 1420 pounds is divided by the number of pilgrims in the Mission, after deducting the few who are not supported out of the Mission's funds, it gives the average cost of about 28 pounds each for maintenance, which is exceedingly moderate." (Bright Words Sept, 1900). 28 pounds divided by twelve months equals 2.33 pounds per month a Faith Mission Pilgrim Worker received in 1900.
Hymn No. 125 /119 "O Wanderers, Come to Jesus" included in Hymns Old & New was written by Horace Govan, the youngest brother of the founder of The Faith Mission. However, the word "sinners" is changed to "wanderers" in Hymns Old & New. Contrary to the information given in the Hymn Authors booklet, Horace Govan was never an American citizen. He was born in Scotland, and only visited the U.S.A. briefly. The hymnal used by Faith Mission, "Songs of Victory," also contains numerous other hymns found in Hymns Old & New; in fact, almost all the hymns written by outsiders can be found in "Songs of Victory."
The Faith Mission sent pairs of men and women, they called "pilgrims" or "workers," from village to village preaching and holding gospel meetings and annual conventions. Their workers had no guaranteed salaries, took up no collections, relinquished their homes and possessions, and accepted food and lodging from those who offered it. Referring to The Faith Mission, a Scottish periodical stated:
"We are greatly pleased....sending out preachers to the villages
and small towns of Scotland. The preachers are not to be guaranteed any
salary, nor are subscriptions to be asked, as it is believed the Lord
provide." (November, 1886, The Reaper)
The Faith Mission was well known for its "bonneted sisters" - bonnet with long strings tied in a bow under their neck. They also wore black stockings and court shoes. Women preachers were a rarity at this time, except for the Salvation Army. The first women pilgrims were Agnes Jack and Annie Martin whowent out in March 1887.
"The Faith Mission workers have a dress 'code' which was strictly adhered to in earlier times and regulation sheets were issued. Unfortunately I don't have any applying to earlier years. Bonnets and black stockings were worn until into the 1960's (when I joined the Mission). I am enclosing one or two photographs which may help you. Early in the century, skirts were worn long and stockings were not seen, though I understand they were usually black shoes in the 1950s and 60s were to be court shoes with a firm heel." (November 22, 1993 Letter by Mr. Keith H. Percival, General Director of The Faith Mission)
Goodhand Pattison wrote in Accounts of the Early Days in a chapter titled: FAITH MISSION:
"He attributed his own conversion to the instrumentality of (Rev.) John McNeill, who about and before that time had been a leading light (evangelistic) belonging to but not confined to the Presbyterian body in Scotland. Some time after his conversion, William Irvine spent a term of some years I think, in what is known as the 'Bible Institute,' meanwhile getting to know some of the aims and working of the Faith Mission, he determined to throw in his lot with them, as being the best he could see, although offered more than once to have his name put forward as candidate for stated ministry.
1896: WM IRVINE SENT TO NORTH of IRELAND: The Faith Mission sent William Irvine to preach in Northern Ireland, where many missions had previously been worked with success by Faith Mission pilgrims. He was working a mission in October 1896 that "that stirred the whole of that country for years to come, as I did in S.W. of Ireland and finally all over Ireland" (Oct 13, 1920 Letter to Dunbars).
1897, February: Pilgrims Irvine and Deathe went to work in the South of Ireland.
1897: While preaching in the South of Ireland, Irvine's FIRST convert was Dora Holland. She was converted at a mission Wm. Irvine and Pilgrim Taberner were working in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland in April-May, 1897. Reportedly, she was his very first convert in Ireland. John Long travelled to Kilrush at this time, specifically for the purpose of meeting and hearing Wm. Irvine. In March of 1897, the Kilrush mission was interrupted when Irvine suddenly "went back to Queenzieburn, Kilsyth, to see his sick mother, who at that time gave herself to Jesus."
John Long tells about traveling to meet Wm Irvine at this mission in Kilrush:
"Ireland: For long we have been praying and hoping to go to the more neglected parts of this island. At length we have made a start, and Pilgrims Irvine and Deathe have gone to the south-west. At present their work is mostly pioneering." (Feb. 15, 1897 Bright Words, p 39)
"Kilrush (Co. Clare) is a very Roman Catholic town. Pilgrim Irvine, joined recently by Pilgrim Taberner, is working away quietly. They have had one or two interesting lantern meetings. Those in such stiff fields specially need our prayers." (May 15, 1897 Bright Words, p 113)
"In 1895, he [Wm. Irvine]...was sent by J. G. Govan to Northern Ireland to Evangelize; and from north to Co. Clare, in the south of Ireland. While conducting a mission in Kilrush, I (John Long) met him and directed him to Nenagh, where a revival began in August, 1897, which afterwards formed into the Go-Preacher Testimony." (Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney by Patricia Roberts pp 12-13)
"I removed from Ennis to Corofin; while there I had a letter from Charles Cronhelm, to go over to Kilrush for a week end, as he had two Faith Mission Evangelists having meetings and he would like me to meet with them. Unto that invitation I responded and went and spent the week end in the fellowship of William Irvine. (John Long's Journal, 1897 March)
Irvine had planned to give a sermon using a magic lantern, but the lantern failed to work. The magic lantern was essentially a slide projector--a very modern concept for 1897; perhaps similar to a Power Point Presentation would be in the year 2000+. It would have been a most ingenious way to arouse curiosity and interest in an evangelistic mission.
"He had announced for a Magic Lantern address, in order to influence the Roman Catholic people to come into the little Methodist Chapel, to hear singing, and the Gospel message. The lantern refused to work that night for something had went wrong with it, and had to give the address without the aid of the Lantern slides and pictures, so he turned it into a sermon. Some Romans were in the meeting and the Evangelist [Wm Irvine] spoke with great vehemence, love and power; placing Catholic and Protestants on the same natural condition, namely all are sinners, all need Salvation or Regeneration; and all can be saved through believing with their heart; and confessing with their mouth the Lord Jesus. His remarks were founded on Mat 16:16-19; and Rom 10:9-10. Unclean spirits cried out of some, and others were convicted, helped and blessed. After the meeting I was introduced to him; then he took me down a street, where he put tracts under doors in the homes, and dropped them on the footpath, so as that I got afraid of hostility rising; however the people stood it well. Next day being the Sabbath, he took me where we had private prayer together, and God blessed my soul with renewed strength."
"On Monday, I left Kilrush, and went to Lisdoonvarna, and he [Wm Irvine] left soon after and went back to Queenzieburn, Kilsyth, to see his sick mother, who at that time gave herself to Jesus." (John Long's Journal, 1897 March)Faith Mission's Bright Words for June 15, 1897 reported:
"Our brothers in the south-west, after closing the mission at Kilrush, spent a week or two itinerating--visiting farms, selling literature, distributing tracts, singing, praying and talking with the people, and continually holding a meeting. Now they have begun a mission at Tarbert in Co. Kerry. Pilgrim Irvine has had to go home for a little on account of the serious illness of his mother, and Pilgrim Taberner is alone meanwhile." (June 15, 1897 Bright Words, p. 146)1895-1896-1897: FIRST PERSON TO PROFESS: Sydney Holt, the Overseer of the State of Washington, wrote letters to the American friends and workers while visiting Britain and Ireland on convention rounds in 1985. His letters confirm that Wm. Irvine came to Ireland in 1896:
"...Mother's three sisters in their nineties...filled me in on more family history dating back to Aunt Dora Holland hearing the gospel in 1896 in Kilrush in the western part of Ireland. It was 1902 when she went into the work...then 1905 to Canada." (May 1, 1985 Letter by Sydney Holt)
Dora Holland is generally credited with being the very FIRST PERSON TO PROFESS in South Ireland. She is reported as professing in 1895, 1896 and 1897. The author believes the year was actually 1897 since Faith Mission records Wm. Irvine and Fred Tapp were preaching in Kilrush in 1897, as does John Long. Sydney Holt gives the year as 1896. Her funeral notes say she professed in 1896. Computing from an extract of a letter by Dora Holland's brother, Harry Holland, (see photo) written in 1966, she professed in 1895. He wrote:
"So many of our fellow workers have gone, yet I am still living. I will be 89 years old on February 6th. My sister, Dora, was 90 on January 1st. She was the FIRST PERSON TO PROFESS in Ireland, but that was before the Gills and the Carrolls decided and before George Walker decided. That was some years before I left Ireland, and I left in 1899." [Harry Holland, 1966; died April 30, 1967] Author's Note: Faith Mission had been preaching in North Ireland for 6 years with success, so it isn't likely that Dora "was the first person to profess in Ireland." More likely Dora was probably the first to profess in S. Ireland.Dora's niece Hazel Hughes gives the year as 1895:
"A man by the name of William Irvine came. He had been preaching in Tipperary and Jack Carroll had met him there. Jack Carroll was from Rathmolyon, from the same district as our Father and Mother [Fred Hughes and Mary Ann Gill Hughes] came from. And he had heard the gospel and he felt he needed to be born again, so he got William Irvine to come to Rathmolyon. Dora Holland had heard it before that in 1895 in Tipperary; there was no fellowship. She never was in a fellowship meeting for five years." [Hazel Hughes, 1971 Transcript]It is written that Dora Holland had "no fellowship" and "didn't have much fellowship" for awhile. This is easily explained. She wouldn't have been able to fellowship with others in the group Irvine eventually founded--since it didn't yet exist. Probably, the reason Dora Holland had "no fellowship" for a period of time was because she came to Christ through an evangelist working with the Faith Mission (Wm Irvine). Faith Mission does not set up churches, baptize or serve communion. Their converts attend the church of their choice. Their workers are unsectarian evangelists, and they often set up weekly Prayer Union Meetings if there are enough converts in a given area to do so. It would seem that there were not enough converts in Kilrush to set up a Prayer Union Meeting; or perhaps those who wrote/said this didn't consider the Prayer Unions to be "fellowship."
Even though Dora Holland was converted by Wm Irvine while he was
preaching in association with the Faith Mission, she
is considered by some to be the first
convert in Wm. Irvine's group which had not yet been formed at that
time. Through the years, some have claimed that the Go-Preacher
began before 1897, and use Dora Holland as evidence, since she
professed in 1896. However, there are other sources who state
professed in 1895 and also 1897. The Author believes it was in 1897,
for the reasons given above.
A list exists reporting that Dora Holland arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on August 11, 1905, along with 16 other workers; 6 female and 10 male. Dora went to her family who had emigrated shortly before to northwestern Ontario, near the Minnesota border. In 1906, Sydney Holt's grandparents and 6 children came to Ontario. His mother, Emily, was 12 years old at the time. Dora and Harry were already in Canada. Dora was the oldest sister of the Mother of Syd Holt. They were half-sisters, having different mothers, and the same father. There were at least 8 children in the Holt family. Dora, Maud (Mrs. Hollis Parrish), Mable, Harry, Kathleen, Emily (Mrs. Leslie Holt), Philip and Muriel. Six children became workers: Dora, Harry, Maud, Kathleen, Mable and Muriel. Dora died August 1, 1968 and is buried in Graceland Cemetery, Madison, South Dakota.
NOTE: The Author personally visited the city of Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland on August 1, 2004.
1898: WM. IRVINE BECOMES SUPERINTENDENT
OVER SOUTH of IRELAND:
The Faith Mission commenced in October, 1886 and mainly evangelized Scotland at that time. Mr. John Govan arrived in Belfast, Ireland on May 27, 1891, where he had been invited to speak at a Conference of the International Police Association. It was his first visit to Ireland. While there, he made the acquaintance of three sisters from Blackrock, near Dublin. They asked for a pair of Pilgrims to come and hold a mission in their home in Blackrock. Before long, two brother workers arrived and spent 4 weeks, with resulting in 40 converts and a weekly Prayer Union being formed.
The first missons worked in the north of Ireland were in County Antrim, Other Missions followed in Ireland. "Before long revival fires began to burn," and "By 1894 the work was firmly established and on 12th of July, 1895, conferences were held in a tent at Ballymena which was packed with more than 1,500 people present." (Heritage of Revival by Colin Peckham, p 38).
1898, August 15: The first time Irvine's name appears in Bright Words Location of Pilgrims as Superintendent for the Faith Mission work in the South of Ireland, and for the last time in December 1900. The Faith Mission work had been going on in Ireland for some 6 years by this time.
Southwest Ireland was dominated by the Roman Catholics. "For long we have been praying and hoping to go to the more neglected parts of this island. At length we have made a start, and Pilgrims Irvine and Deathe have gone to the south-west. At present, their work is mostly pioneering." (Feb. 15, 1897 Bright Words, p 39)
Wm Irvine was sent to the South of Ireland, where where very little evangelization had been done by Faith Mission workers. Govan stated that Pilgrims Irvine and Deathe's work there "was mostly pioneering."
"Irvine went to the south of Ireland in 1897 and his superintendency must
be understood in the light of the conditions there then. His work, and
that of the few workers in that area, was merely that of holding pioneer missions.
He was not a 'superintendent' in the sense that we know that term to mean today.
In fact he was only in the Faith Mission for about three years before leaving
to work on independent lines. He was separated from the main flow of Christian
work in the north, and from the burgeoning Faith Mission work in Scotland.
Because he worked in such isolation in an extremely Roman Catholic county not
enjoying fellowship in any great measure with other members of the Faith Mission,
he was able to deviate from the normal practices, methods and teachings of the
Faith Mission." (Letter dated May 29,
Books about Faith Mission
By Isobel Rosie Govan: Spirit of Revival (4th
1978) (FM founder's daughter)
Stanley L. Hunt Ltd., Publisher, Rusheden, Northhamptonshire, GB U.K.
This book can be purchased from a Faith Mission Bookshop or On-line from: http://www.fmbc.ac/
By Rev. C. N. Peckham: Heritage of Revival - A Century of
Faith Mission Publishing, 1986, Edinburgh, Scotland U.K. ISBN: 0-9508058-1-5
This book can be purchased from a Faith Mission Bookshop or On-line from: http://www.fmbc.ac/
Compiled by Andrew W. Bell: Songs of Victory
(Hymnbook used by Faith Mission)
Published by Life Indeed, Third Edition 1952; Fourth Edition, 1998
This book is available from any Faith Mission Bookshop: http://www.fmbc.ac/
Faith Mission Bookshops
Faith Mission Bookshop
5-7 Queen St
Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland BT1 6EA
Tel: 01232 225410
Faith Mission Bookshop
Armagh, County Armagh, Northern Ireland
Faith Mission Bookshop
57 High Street
Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Faith Mission Christian Book Centre
4 Canmore Street
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland KY12 7PX
Tel: 01383 720643
Fax: 01383 720643
Manager: H. Wilson
NOTE: Faith Mission Bookshops also stock books about the 2x2s or Cooneyites.
CLICK TO GO TO: Annual Workers Lists of Faith Mission Pilgrims
Editor's Note: The following was furnished by Keith H. Percival, General Director of Faith Mission, under cover letter dated May 10, 1993, with the comment: "I am also enclosing copies of some notes used in teaching our own students."
THE FAITH MISSION
Officially nameless but known as 'The Jesus Way', Cooneyites, Go-Preachers, Two-by-Two preachers or Irvinites.
Registered as 'Christian Conventions' in U.S.A. Also known as 'The Church in the Home'.
PECULIARITY OF CULT
There is an absence of printed material. They do not publish anything and claim no organisation.
HISTORY OF CULT
Founded by William Weir Irvine (1863-1947). He was born in Newtown, Kilsyth, Scotland, 1863. After training as an engineer, he became a colliery manager. Through the preaching of Presbyterian evangelist Rev. John McNeil in Motherwell, Irvine was converted to Christ.
On 14th. June, 1895 he joined the Faith Mission, an interdenominational evangelistic organisation founded by Mr. J. G. Govan, a businessman from Glasgow. He worked in Scotland as a lay evangelist and then in 1896 he was sent to Southern Ireland to evangelize with The Faith Mission. In 1897, he was made superintendent of that part of Faith Mission work. Mr. Govan records that he was much used as a pilgrim (name given to Faith Mission evangelists).
After reading Matthew 10:8-10 with Mr. John Long, he decided to obey the injunction literally. He failed to maintain contact with the Headquarters of the Faith Mission from this time and unofficially broke away from its organisation.
Mr. Govan records in 'Bright Words', the official periodical of the Faith Mission, in the year 1900, "pilgrim Irvine is in the south of Ireland. We have not had regular reports from him lately".
Around the same time he led a campaign to Scotland along with several companions. He was independent from the Faith Mission but still accepted hospitality from Faith Mission prayer union members and also won some to his ways.
In 1901 Irvine resigned officially from the Faith Mission. A
was placed in "Bright Words" in 1901 concerning the new sect
being formed by Irvine.
2 Drum Street Gilmerton
Edinburgh EH17 8QG
Rev. C. N. Peckham, B.A., M.Th
29th. May, 1991.
Mrs. Cherie Kropp
1117 Woodbridge Road
Oklahoma City OK 73162
Re: William Irvine.
Dear Mrs. Kropp
In reply to your request for information concerning William Irvine’s connection with the Faith Mission, William Irvine joined the Faith Mission in l895, and after working in Scotland, came across to Ireland probably around May of 1896. The Faith Mission was founded by Mr. J. G. Govan in 1886, as an evangelistic agency for the villages of Scotland, and the work was extended to Ireland in 1892. At some time in 1897, Mr. Irvine went to work in the south of Ireland, where he is referred to in our magazine Bright Words as superintending the work there from 1898 to 1900. The last reference to him as such, is the issue of Nov/Dec. 1900.
There is reference in what we call "Location of Pilgrims" to a mission in Rathmolyn beginning Oct 10, 1897, by William Irvine following which he went to Co. Tipperary.
In the magazine issue for June/July, 1898 the report of the work by Mrs. Pendreigh appeared as follows:
"Since coming across to.. the south of Ireland, we have thoroughly enjoyed the work.. In some places the opposition was great, but by prayer and patient endurance battles were fought and won... During some missions several (Roman Catholics) were brought in, and I believe savingly converted.. .most of the work has been in and around Co. Tipperary, and one or two fully successful missions in Kings and Queen's Counties.. .I don't think any of us could go away with a grudge in our hearts.. .as our D.P. (District Pilgrim) has the happy plan of making us cross hands.. and sing some chorus as a pledge of being true to God and to one another."
The D.P. referred to was, of course, William Irvine, and Mrs. Pendreigh later became one of his most devoted followers and remained so all her life.
In the August, 1898 issue of our magazine, William Irvine's name appears for the first time as superintending the work in the south.
"A brief visit to Co.Tipperary occupied the remainder of my stay across the channel...with Pilgrims Pendreigh and McLean I attended five meetings at Nenagh...it was a joy to meet so many bright and sympathetic children of God in that part of the country, and to see so much satisfactory fruit remaining from the missions held by Pilgrim Irvine and the sisters during the past 12 months."
In 1898 on the list of workers in Mr. Govan's report of the work, Mr. Irvine's name appears as superintending the work in the south of Ireland.
In 1899, Mr. Govan writes, "As far as the south of Ireland is concerned, there has not been much work."
In March 1990, issue of Bright Words, Mr. Govan wrote "Pilgrim Irvine is in the south of Ireland. We have not had regular reports from him lately." [TTT Editor's Note: typographical error - the date should be March 1900]
The last time William Irvine's name is given as superintending the work in the south is in the annual report for 1900, where Mr. Govan writes as follows:
"The work in the south of Ireland has not been reported...much of the time of the Pilgrim in charge having been taken up with the building of movable wooden halls, nearly all of which are worked on independent lines and workers unconnected with and not under the direction of the Faith Mission."
In the August 1901 magazine issue Mr. Govan writes:
"When in Ireland, I came into close contact with a movement that has been going on for a year or two. A number of young people are going out on quite independent lines.. while there may be much that is good in the devotion and earnestness of those who thus leave all.. .a number of the features of this movement do not commend themselves to us... some have mistaken them for pilgrims, so we find it necessary to say that the Faith Mission is not responsible for this movement."
In September, 1901, he wrote in the Faith Mission Magazine:
"During the year several have dropped out of our list of workers. Pilgrim Irvine has been working on independent lines, chiefly in Ireland. Then quite recently Pilgrim Kelly has resigned, and also aligned himself with these independent workers."
Around the end of 1901, a small leaflet was issued titled "To Correct Misunderstandings." A portion of it reads as follows:
"As we continue to receive word that certain itinerant workers (associated with Mr. Irvine and Mr. Cooney) frequently pass under the title of "Pilgrims" or "Faith Workers", we wish it to be observed that the name "Pilgrim" was adopted for our evangelists from the formation of the Faith Mission in 1886, and that the workers of this new association differ very widely..in aims, principles, and methods from those of our Mission". (Life of Faith, April 23, 1964 )
There is no reference to William Irvine in the volume of 1902, but in the magazine issue for May, 1903, the following statement appears:
"We regret that it seems needful, owing to the confusing statements that have been made, to state plainly that we have no responsibility for the work carried on in Ireland, and elsewhere by Mr. Irvine and his fellow-workers. Having little organization or arrangements whereby to distinguish them, the agents of this anonymous work have been mistaken for our Faith Mission pilgrims, and misleading references have appeared in the public press."
From these references, you can see that William Irvine definitely did not leave the Faith Mission to take over or become a part of an existing ministry. There certainly was no movement of that kind existing over here before Irvine's break-away movement. As William Irvine spent some time in the Faith Mission before leaving it, there is no possibility that he founded the Cooneyite sect before 1886 as it was in October 1886, that John George Govan began the Faith Mission.
Irvine went to the south of Ireland in 1897 and his superintendency must be understood in the light of the conditions there then. His work, and that of the few workers in that area, was merely that of holding pioneer missions. He was not a "superintendent" in the sense that we know that term to mean today. In fact he was only in the Faith Mission for about three years before leaving to work on independent lines. He was separated from the main flow of Christian work in the north, and from the burgeoning Faith Mission work in Scotland. Because he worked in such isolation in an extremely Roman Catholic county not enjoying fellowship in any great measure with other members of the Faith Mission he was able to deviate from the normal practice, methods and teachings of the Faith Mission.
I certify the above information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and ability, so far as the records of Faith Mission are concerned. I hope this information will be helpful to you, and if I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to write again.
Rev. C. N. Peckham.
P.S. As information, the magazine Bright Words is now called Life Indeed, and their address is Govan House, 2 Drum Street, Gilmerton, Edinburgh FH17 18QG.
2 Drum Street, Edinburgh, EH17 8QG Scotland
Telephone: +44 (0)131 664 4336
Fax: +44 (0)131 672 1322
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