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The Journal of John Long
About the Early Days
Newspaper Articles
Read about the Early Days
1893 - 1965
1966 to Present

Letterhead used by workers titled Christian Conventions

Perry Oklahoma, 1942

Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name and its Founder, William Irvine

Introduction Index of Chapters
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42



Chapter 4
Revised March 12, 2016

1895 - 1901

1895, June:    Wm. Irvine's Call to Service
1895, June 14: Wm. Irvine Joins The Faith Mission

1895 - WM. IRVINE'S CALL TO SERVICE - As his personal sign from God, or "Call to Service," William Irvine took Isaiah 41:14-16:  "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....

Irvine wrote:  "Thirty years come June, the Lord 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."
(Letter to Edwards, March 3, 1924)

"I got this promise in a very definite way 40 years ago, tho I did not know what it meant.  But it came to me very definite before I ever left home and in answer to prayerful desire of my heart to what I should do..." He connects this scripture to "the Iron Rod Rule of the Overcomer as in Revelation." (Letter to M. Canada, April 14, 1933*)

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 " for his Call to Service that Scripture: ‘Behold I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth, thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shall make the hills as dust,’ Isaiah 41:15.”  (John Long's Journal, February, 1897)  John Long wrote about Irvine taking very seriously his Call to Service to be The Thresher:  "A good deal of opposition arose at that time because William Irvine spoke with great authority against the unfaithfulness of the clergy; many threw on the brake, but he refused to be corrected by them, believing that God had raised him 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.  ( Letter to Mr. Billett, January 8, 1934)

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 MISSIONAfter 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 Faith Mission pilgrim or worker 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:

"...[I] finally chose to join the Faith Mission, which showed the most spiritual and fire, and so after two years I started preaching with them in July 1895" (Letter to Dunbars, October 13, 1920)

"In July, 1895 I joined the Faith Mission and I found myself very much the same, in the outer circle (as in Bible Training Institute). Finally I was put out because I was not of them and (not) willing for all their discipline, which I felt was not of God or according to the Book... I was put out of Faith Mission September, 1897." (Letter to Kerrs, Dec. 4, 1921)

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.  "I may mention the blessedness of having godly parents--a father and mother who loved the Lord Jesus.  We were strictly brought up, but had a very happy home life...I was converted when quite young through an address my father gave on a Sunday evening at Corrie, in Arran, where we were staying one summer.  That address made a great impression on me, and as a boy of twelve, I gave my heart to Jesus, and trusted Him to forgive me my sins...In 1882 Moody and Sankey paid their second visit to Glasgow... ".  (In the Train of His Triumph - Reminiscences of the Early Days of the Faith Mission by J. G. Govan ) This author has not located any record in any of the Faith Mission books listed below or by the Faith Mission librarian showing that the family was a member of a particular denomination. 

When he was 25 years old, with no ecclesiastical credentials, John Govan started the Faith Mission on Oct 14, 1886. In September, 1894, he married Annie Martin, who was also the FM's first sister Pilgrim.  John George Govan was born January 19, 1861 and died October 3, 1927; Annie was born in 1870 and died on July 26, 1932. In 1938, their daughter Isabella Rosie (Govan) Stewart was born around 1900 and died in 1983. She wrote a book about the Faith Mission titled "Spirit of Revival," which is now in its 4th or possibly 5th Edition. 

"In 1945 Miss [Isabella Rosie] Govan also returned to Scotland after being seven years in South Africa. She was married in November, 1946, to Mr Andrew Stewart of Edinburgh, who died in 1952. Mrs I. R. Govan Stewart was the author of 'Spirit of Revival', the biography of her father and the story of the early years of the Mission, the fourth edition of which was produced in 1978. This book, to quote Dr Graham Scroggie, 'simply throbs with spiritual power and holy emotion'. It has been widely read and greatly blessed. It has introduced the Mission to many who would otherwise not have known of its existence, and many have been called through it into the Lord's service. She was also the author of quite a number of other books, which will continue to speak long after she has gone. Her gifts of personal charm, warm friendliness, the spirit of joy and optimism, her spiritual depth and sensitivity of spirit all combined to make her a most talented and useful member of Christ's Kingdom. She died on October 24, 1983, and her brother, Ellis Govan, passed away seven months previously in Zimbabwe, thus severing the last links with the family of the Chief."  (Heritage of Revival by Colin N. Peckham, p. 67)

Click Here to view Govan Family Tombstone located in Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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:

"THE FAITH MISSION was instituted in October, 1886, for the evangelization, specially, of villages, country districts, and small towns in Scotland, but open to extend further, either in this country or elsewhere, as God might lead."

"The Mission was determined not to start a "sect." and strenuously kept clear of administering baptism or the supper of the Lord.  The solution came to the Chief in the idea of The Prayer Union."
(Faith Triumphant - A Review of the Work of The Faith Mission 1886-1936, page 27 by J. G. Govan*)

Their founder wrote:  I believe God gave us the name [Faith Mission.]  Faith was to be the principle of the Mission--faith in God, and in Him alone; absolute dependence upon Him for everything necessary, for guidance, for health, and strength besides food and clothing; faith for the future as well as faith for the present.  Faith lives on distinct promises such as--'They who preach the Gospel shall live by the Gospel' and 'They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.' And the word 'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee' covers all contingencies...We want those who will forswear all the comforts of home, all the ambitions of life and the pleasures of the world to go out as 'pilgrims' and strangers on the earth,' and live entirely for God."  (Source:  First! Magazine , Sept-Oct,  2011*)  

It is important to understand that the Faith Mission is NOT a sect, church or 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.  Weekly "Prayer Unions" were first formed in June, 1887, "where Christians were able to encourage one another; to have fellowship and to pray with one another, and conserve the work of evangelism." The Prayer Unions did not take the place of a church--the members continued to attend the church of their choice.

While Wm. Irvine was preaching with the Faith Mission, it is probable that he either remained a Presbyterian, the faith he was brought up in; or he did not claim association with any organized church or denomination.

Upon hearing that the Founder of the Faith Mission, John G. Govan, passed away,  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."  (John Long's Journal, May, 1926)

Visit the Faith Mission Website

BRIGHT WORDS:   In 1889, the Faith Mission began to publish a monthly magazine initially titled Bright Words, then Life Indeed after which it was renamed:  First!  This publication gave a news report concerning Faith Mission pilgrim workers, their current locations, converts and missions, testimonies, 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. 

AUTHOR's 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.

Heritage of Revival - A Century of Rural Evangelism is a book about the activities of The Faith Mission written by Rev. Colin N. Peckham which can be read on TTT or purchased from Faith Mission.

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 with the major Protestant denominations who accept the simple truth of the Gospel; 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 successful missions within the different denominations. He became very critical of  these churches and started to work independently. He eventually broke away from The Faith Mission and became very legalistic with the emphasis of salvation being on 'what you do' rather than by faith alone.  (Obviously 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."

    *probably John Long's Journal

FAITH MISSION FINANCES:  The Faith Mission published an Annual Report every September, with the assistance of an accountant, and it contained a summary of all their income and expenses, called "Statement of Accounts."   Their Fourteenth Annual Report begins with the following Statement by Mr. J. G. Govan:
    "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)
Quarterly, Faith Mission published in Bright Words a list of donations for each fund (i.e. General, Special, Foreign, Resting funds).  They also grouped donations in the two categories:  Personal Donations and Prayer Union Donations.  The donation amount was listed beside the city or town of the donor, leaving the donor anonymous.

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 to Robert Kee, April 16, 2002)

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).  NOTE: 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 will provide." ( The Reaper,* November, 1886)
"Only men and women full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5) are wanted for this work, who will trust their Father to fulfill His Promises by supplying them with food, clothing and all the necessities; who are willing to lose their lives for Christ's sake and the Gospel's and who, laying aside earthly ambitions and 'seeking not their own' are willing to become 'pilgrims on the earth' and trust God with their future as well as the present...'We appeal directly to God...we go on with the work, and God has never failed us.' " (The Reaper,* December, 1886)

The Faith Mission was well known for its "bonneted sisters" who wore bonnets 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 who went out in March 1887.

The male Pilgrims wore coats with lapels and a Faith Mission motif on their pockets.  Initially, both men and women pilgrims dressed in solid dark colors. The blue suit and jaunty blue hat have disappeared. Click Here to view 1888 picture in TTT Photo Gallery

"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." (Mr. Keith H. Percival, General Director of  The Faith Mission, Letter Nov. 22, 1993*)

Goodhand Pattison wrote in Accounts of the Early Days in a chapter titled:  FAITH MISSION: "Now for a while I must return to, and endeavor to follow up, some of William Irvine's movements, and in this connection (maybe about for the first time) introduce the 'Faith Mission,' as I have purposely held it over until now. The name and subject were both quite new to me until William Irvine's arrival in these parts, and while he made no secret of the fact either publicly or privately, that in preaching the Gospel he was connected with and owed allegiance to that association, and would continue to do so - so he used to say - until he found better; yet he never for a moment sought to preach up the Faith Mission so as to obscure his hearers' vision, or 'hide for a moment his Lord from their eyes.' First and last, it was 'Jesus Only.'

"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.
 "The headquarters of the Faith Mission was at Rothesay in Scotland, and its chief organizer and promoter was John G. Govan assisted by either one or two brothers, I think two, and that one of them died in the early days of the work here. Workers, male and female, were known as pilgrims, and to the number of about 60 were scattered mostly in Scotland and Ireland, usually in pairs, but not always in the case of brothers.  "The work in Ireland at that time was, in a minor sense, directed by a senior pilgrim named Potter, but I understand that all reports, monies, etc. were dealt with at Headquarters, and responsibility in regard to choosing and sending out of pilgrims, their up-keep, etc. was also borne by their chief, Mr. Govan. They preached a full, free and present salvation, by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and claimed to preach and enjoy 'victory' through the realization of an indwelling Christ, or in other words, 'I now enjoy victory, yet not I but Christ who dwelleth within me.' Both in their life and teaching they sought to cultivate a praiseful spirit, and used very freely and often such as 'Praise the Lord,' 'Hallelujah.' They publish a nice little monthly called 'Bright Words,' with editorials, leading articles, reports, state of finances, etc., and in a general way reflected pretty accurately the sayings and doings of the organization as a whole.  "While conducting missions they did not take up collections, but at or near the close of a mission, if not before, they intimated or allowed it to be understood that they would accept a thank-offering from those who felt like giving one, for blessing received. These offerings were sent to Headquarters with probably a statement of account for expenses incurred over and above gratuitous housing and boarding, or other hospitality enjoyed at the hands of interested and sympathetic people. In their preaching they did not usually attack clergy or churches, but when the mission was over and any professed to have got saved, or otherwise helped by their ministrations, they sought to establish 'Prayer Unions,' with cards of membership pledging the members to attendance of united prayer meetings at various centers, etc., as found convenient, thus securing in a measure the lively interest and sympathy of members when pilgrims had gone elsewhere.  "I do not know if the above description (which I consider both fair and accurate) does not exhaust my present recollection and knowledge of the Faith Mission organization, saving that they held a yearly convention at Rothesay, and I think another in Ireland, Portrush - if I mistake not - at those conventions they usually had some leading lights from other organizations, such perhaps as Mr. Grubb, already referred to, (Rev.) Charles Inwood from Methodism, and some other of the same type, to speak from the platform…"

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" (Letter to Dunbars, Oct. 13, 1920). 

1897, February: Pilgrims Irvine and Deathe went to work in the South of Ireland "On 1st January, (1897) I found myself in Ennis, Co. Clare the darkest and hottest spot in the world for Romanism where there were only 2% Protestant and 98% Catholic, where most of the Irish Priests come from…I spent 8 months there and in Co. Kerry and crossed from Nenagh after a very good mission where the Carrolls professed in September and came back to Rathmolyon in beginning of October for 3 weeks mission."

1897: While preaching in the South of Ireland, Irvine's FIRST convert was Dora Holland, also known at Dot or Dorothy.) She was converted at a mission Wm. Irvine and Pilgrim Taberner were working in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland in April-May, 1897. Reportedly, Dora 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."  

"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." (Bright Words, Feb. 15, 1897 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."  (Bright Words, May 15, 1897 p. 113)

John Long tells about traveling to meet Wm. Irvine at this mission in Kilrush:
"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, March, 1897

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, March, 1897)
Faith Mission's Bright Words reported:  

"For long we have been praying and hoping to go to the more neglected parts of this island [Ireland]. 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. Let us pray much that the Lord may open a door before them, and that fruit may be won for Jesus from the dark places of this land." (Bright Words, February 15, 1997 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." (Bright Words, May 15, 1897 p. 113)

"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."  (Bright Words, June 15, 1897 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." (Letter by Sydney Holt, May 1, 1985)

"Time ran out, so we didn't drive 70 miles on south to Kilrush where Aunt Dora (Holland) met Wm. Irvine and his companion right after they came from Scotland in 1896. She was in her early twenties and working as a tutoress for a wealthy family at the time. She didn't have much fellowship until she started in the work in 1902." (Letter by Sydney Holt, June 27, 1985)
DORA HOLLAND may have sat in Wm. Irvine's mission in Kilrush while he was preaching with Faith Mission. Who knows?  Irvine may have gotten the Magic Lantern to work, and Dora just may have even seen the program Irvine had prepared.  

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."  (Source: Hazel Hughes, 1971 Transcript)  It is written that Dora Holland had "no fellowship"  and "didn't have much fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ until about the time when she went in the work in 1902."

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 fellowship began before 1897, and use Dora Holland as evidence, since she reportedly professed in 1896.  However, there are other sources who state that she professed in 1895 and also 1897. The Author believes it was in 1897, for the reasons given above. 

The list of Arrival of Workers in North America reports that Dora Holland arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on August 11, 1905, along with 16 other workers; 6 female and 10 male. In the fall of 1908, Dora and her companion Mollie Long went to Rainy River District in northwestern Ontario near the Minnesota border, where her family had emigrated a short time earlier.  "As the result of meetings held that winter, her parents, all her brother and sisters, and some of their neighbors began to walk in His Way. A number later went into the work.  Others have been added since, and a convention is held near Emo every year.  She preached in North Dakota and Minnesota before coming to South Dakota in 1926."

Dora was born in January 1, 1876, in Annival, Co. Galway, Ireland and died August 1, 1968. Her brother Harry was born February 6, 1877 at Annival, Co. Galway and died May 3, 1967. He preached in North and South Dakota. They are buried beside each other in Graceland Cemetery, Madison, South Dakota.

In 1906, Sydney Holt's grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Holland and six 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  Syd Holt's mother. They were half-sisters, having different mothers, and the same father. There were at least 8 children in the Holland family--maybe more. Dora, Harry, Mable, Kathleen, Muriel, Maud (Mrs. Hollis Parrish), Emily (Mrs. Leslie Holt) and Philip.   Six Holland children became workers: Dora, Harry, Maud, Kathleen, Mable and Muriel.

NOTE: The Author personally visited the city of Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland on August 1, 2004.

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Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name
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William Irvine

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Church with No Name
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Cooneyites and "the truth"