The Life & Ministry of William Irvine
1902 - 1906
The FIRST Workers, Saints, Conventions, Church Meetings, Baptisms
Revised September 12, 2014
Conditions in Ireland at the Turn of the 20th Century
Alfred Magowan - The Great Experiment
1902: FIRST Sunday Meetings in Homes
1903 Rathmolyon Convention - Vow of Celibacy Taken. Married Workers
1903: FIRST Pioneer Workers to America
1903: FIRST To Profess in the USA
1904: SECOND Group of Workers Leave for America
1904-05: FIRST Workers to go to Canada, Australia, New Zealand & Africa
1904: FIRST Crocknacrieve Convention - The Mecca of the Tramps
1906: San Francisco Earthquake
1906: Workers First Accused of White Slave Trafficing
CONDITIONS IN IRELAND AT THE TURN OF THE 20th CENTURY: The group expanded very rapidly in the first ten or so years, mainly in the small country towns. Education became mandatory in 1880, and 1900, the small towns were full of frustrated young men looking for something more out of life than a 70-hour week as a farm laborer or working behind a counter. Irvine's initial success was a likely product of fortunate timing and place. His style of preaching appealed to those who had an anti-clerical attitude, and most of the early converts were from the north of Ireland, which is not known for its religious tolerance. It has been said: "It is empirically well established that sects proliferate in periods of social unrest." (D. Thompson, England in the Nineteenth Century, Penguin, Middlesex, 1950, p 195). The Secret Sect sets out the state of affairs found in the United Kingdom at the time Irvine's movement began:
Doug Parker wrote in his book, The Secret Sect: "William Irvine's sectarian ideas took root at the turn of the century in social and economic conditions that favoured acceptance by many who heard his message. The nineteenth century in Britain was a period of great change in economic and social life when, through the effects of the Industrial Revolution, in which she pioneered the way, changes in the balance between agriculture and industry necessitated the urbanization of large areas, and involved population upheavals…'much of the labor drawn away from the countryside was unemployed. The spread of elementary education (made compulsory in 1880) made them [laborers] more discontented with their lot' so that the 'manual working classes of the new urban society became more conscious of the deprivations and developed institutionalized forms through which they would express them.'
Although the churches were finding a great indifference to organized religion among the working people there were, concurrent with the rising status of the working man, greater opportunities for lay evangelism, and there was a growth of movements that depended upon the efforts of lay people: Plymouth Brethren, Mormons, Christadelphians, the Salvation Army, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Student Volunteer Movement, the Irish Workers Christian Union and the Faith Mission all arose during the nineteenth century. Revivalism on an intensive scale, from the Primitive Methodists to the great campaigns of Finney, Moody, Pearsall Smith and Torrey had made the earnest lay leader an increasingly common phenomenon. Irvine's teaching excited the imagination of young Christians in the country districts of Ireland, and also appealed to men and women 'living in a drab existence of routine in the towns and suburbs.' "
"Young converts eagerly abandoned their strictly limited environments to capture the opportunity that Irvine offered to become preachers, and they were excited by the promise of God's care for them if they were to give up everything…Some felt deeply disappointed in their churches and longed to be free…Converts saw themselves as sincere in their desire to be Good Christians, and claimed to be bringing light into darkness. The beliefs and the type of response made by converts bear witness both to the sectarian character of the movement and to the time of historical origin of the nameless sect when William Irvine raised his voice to protest against the religious beliefs and practice, social conditions and values of the late Victorian period in Britain." (page 4-5, The Secret Sect)
A Go-Preacher convert paints a vivid picture of the divisions the class system created in the churches. He wrote the Editor of the Impartial Reporter: "How different is all this to what we find in the so-called churches of today. We have the unregenerate multitude meeting in a fashionable building, of course ‘consecrated,’ the monied aristocratic folks in the front seats, the second grade coming next, and aping the style and fashion of the select above them, and the poor behind the door. The latest thing in hats and bonnets are on show, and those that cannot dress to the mark are wise enough to remain at home. You have the dry formal prayers, the fashionable choir, the 15 minutes essay or sermon by the man who is
Paid to smooth the stubborn text to ears polite,
And snugly keep damnation out of sight.
"The plate is passed round, and the congregation is invited to let their light ‘So Shine,’ which they do by putting on a copper. Everybody knows there is something amiss somehow in this business. It never occurs to them that God has nothing to do nor never had with a parade of the kind." (Impartial Reporter, September 3, 1908)
A person who identified himself as "Watchman" wrote the Impartial Reporter a letter. He had been searching for the answer to the question, "Is there not a cause?" as to why some were leaving the established churches of that day and associating themselves with the Go-Preachers. His honesty regarding the conditions at that time are refreshing and informative:
"As a watchman on the walls of Zion, but without the camp, I have been observing for a long time the doings in Crocknacrieve and elsewhere, and again and again I have been forced to ask myself, is there not a cause? Is there not a cause for it in the settled routine forms of worship (Episcopal, Presbyterian and Methodist) that obtain amongst us. We cannot do now with the services that satisfied our parents and grand parents. The sad white washed walls, the cold services, and the long sermons, and the old psalm singing and hymn singing that satisfied the religious needs of a century or half century ago, do not satisfy the present age.
"It must be allowed that there is an endeavour made all round to have our services brighter and shorter. Yet the feeling all round, is that our ministers are wanting in earnestness, that our religion is growing to be somewhat like the religion The Divine Master denounced—a religion without heart, a religion as dry as dust, full of infantile forms, that satisfied no longing of the soul. Our people, even in places and parishes by lonely lakes and mountains, are growing tired of this heartless religion, and so it is coming to pass that our settled congregations are growing small, while those at Crocknacrieve are growing large.
"Priestism, or rather the aping of priestism, is becoming a marked feature with all our ministers. It would be well for themselves and their congregations if they would remember that there was never less priest than Jesus. He who in a certain sense wrote the grandest life of Christ has truly said—‘Never has there been less of a priest than Jesus, never more an enemy of the forms which stifle religion under pretext of protecting it.’
"Then, alas, as time and years go on, our ministers have less of a ‘draw.’ They have more style, they have more dress. They have more of ‘the gay clothing and the gold ring and the goodly apparel’ of St. James, but less of the workman of St. Paul ‘who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly divining the word of truth.’ The staggering school boy reading has too often to be listened to; the rambling ‘ramshakle’ sermon without bodily parts or passion has too often to be endured. In some churches we can say of the sermon, as Johnston said of his dinner at a way side inn, ‘Ill fed, ill cooked, ill kept, ill served.’
"In other Churches thoughtful people have to put up with striplings in ecclesiastical fractions, and when they read a little script no one listens, but all try not to listen. The result of all is, when the services are ended, our people leave such places of worship dull and heavy, far less scriptural in heart, less cheerful in soul than when they entered. It is no marvel that many of our young and middle aged people are glad to find some other meeting place to satisfy their religious needs and longings. See ye to it, for over many churches may be written, ‘Behold your house is left unto you desolate.’
"But it is easier to blame than to praise—easier to find fault than to find a remedy. It is not easy for congregations, elders, Presbyteries, nominators, bishops, &c., to improve very much on the material they have; those with whom the power of appointment lies are often confined to a narrow circle, where there is little light or learning; and as time goes on the inducements are becoming less for able men and able minds to seek the sacred office of the ministry.
"However, one or two things could be done that would tend to more life and spirituality in our churches. First, there could be a more frequent interchange of pulpits, and this would be a large benefit to the ministers as well as to the congregations. Secondly, in every diocese there could be a few itinerant preachers—able men, the memories of whose voice and presence and thoughts would remain long with the congregations. Such are the Redemptorist Fathers in the Roman Catholic Church. They come into parishes and hold their mission for a week or fortnight. They are all gifted men as preachers, and so the memories of them remain long after they leave, and there is a longing for their return." (August 13, 1908 Impartial Reporter)
ALFRED MAGOWAN was 19 when he professed in 1902 in a mission held by Joe Kerr and Edward Cooney in Balteagh School, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Alfred went into the work sometime around 1907. His first mission was reportedly held in 1907 in Kentucky. Alfred would have been 24 years old at that time, and his companion, John Burns, was 19 (The Secret Sect by Doug & Helen Parker, page 33). He is sometimes called by the nickname "Alphie," and his surname is sometimes misspelled "McGowan" or "McGowen." (Selected Letters of Fred Wood 1890-1986 by Patricia Roberts, December 7, 1960 and December 20, 1960 Letters)
After he was excommunicated by George Walker in 1919, Alfred married Sara Dawson, who had been a sister worker. She died in 1934, and in 1939, Alfred married Isobel. He and Isobel had four sons and made their home near Portadown, Co. Armagh, Ireland. Alfred wrote some published articles and letters. He wrote: "Some of our oldest men who suffered many thing at the first are not among us now, and when we ask about them we get vague answers...If they gave up their Faith and Hope and went back into the World again, I could understand it, but when I hear that they still believe and live as they did at the first, it puzzles me greatly." (Source: A play titled: Outline of a Peculiar People From 1900-1931 by Alfred Magowan, p 19) Click Here to learn more about Alfred Magowan.
In 1953, Alfred Magowan wrote a reminiscence in which he explained in detail the nature of Irvine’s Experiment and the revolutionary spirit of the Irvine's movement which prompted young men and women to offer their lives for the harvest field.
“It was a revolution against the respectable and comfortable members of the community who, while claiming to be Christians, were in high positions, looking down on the improvidence of the poor. Many of us were moved to go forth…We forsook all we had. We emptied ourselves of all worldly ambition…We were so zealous that no arguments against us could have made the slightest effect. Minds were unalterable and irrevocably made up. The need seemed so great. It was a chance to live heroically in an age afflicted with dullness…We were fanatical…We believed that we were the last hope of the world and that ours was an honest-hearted revolt. We set out to form a brotherhood where all would be equal. We wanted to break from all tradition and become a people neither Catholic nor Protestant with no regulations, no authority, no machinery or human control, to be free to serve God and make people free like ourselves. We put all worldly ambition behind us, none of this world’s satisfactions or regards held any attraction, we had no theology to propound, no congregations to please, we saw ourselves as workers, but not bosses.” (The Secret Sect, page 26, Chapter 3, Footnote 10) Click here to read more about Alfred Magowan.
In 1938, Alfred Magowan, along with Ed Cooney and R. Irwin visited Wm Irvine in Israel for three weeks. (See Wm Irvine's Letters to Edwards dated May 18, 1938 and June 2, 1938). It was to Alfred Magowan during this visit in 1938 that Wm Irvine made his infamous comment:
"IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIMENT"
to which Alfred replied,
"IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE"
(From Testimony of a Witness for the Defence by Alfred Magowan, January 13, 1956, page 5)
THE GREAT EXPERIMENT: Concerning the workers, Alfred Magowan gives some glimpses of their perspective of the experiment at this time:
"Returning again to THE GREAT EXPERIMENT, which gave many hundreds of us opportunity to have a great and abundant experience of life, this was how it was. An experiment in faith, that in forsaking the world and everything that was in it, and launching out on an unknown sea, we would neither founder by storms nor by losing our bearings to run on uncharted rocks.
"An experiment in following Jesus, free from all encumbrances whatsoever. Having nothing, that we might learn how to possess all things. Turning away from all forms of religious and ecclesiastical climbing; scared into it perhaps by the dreadful things Jesus said in the 23rd of Matthew. So, come what might, we would never be guilty of taking any kind of title or honour--considering that the world was not changed from what it was when He said it hated Him and dishonored Him. We were determined to stand FOR all He had stood for, and AGAINST all that He was against.
"An experiment in Brotherhood where all would be on one level: having regard to what Jesus said against hierarchy or one above another: 'All ye are brethren' being our headline. And Pentecost being our example: 'And all that believed were together and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had need.' Deliverance from the greatest and most respectable lust in the world: that for money and possessions!" (Testimony of a Witness for the Defence, January 13, 1956 by Alfred Magowan)
* * * * * * *
"An experiment in brotherhood, where all were on one level; where possessions had no power over the hearts of men; where there was no desire for honours or titles or distinctions; where men could walk together, and call each other by their first names; where there was faith enough to believe preachers would not starve if they went out into the world without visible means of support. An experiment in passing through this world without conforming to it; and where spiritually-minded men could maintain their pilgrimage, when Establishment was calling to them, and pulling at them from every side. An experiment in serving, without expectation of reward in this life; where something of the sufferings of Christ was to be expected; and where the soul could be disciplined by all that it would be required to pass through--unto the final purifying of the heart. A very great experiment indeed, and in which thousands of young men and women took part--to be made in an image and likeness not to be attained in any other way, or by any ordinary means." (Cross-Examination of a Witness and Address to the Jury by Alfred Magowan)
Some who observed the Tramp Preachers held a totally different viewpoint, as reported: "...`giving up all' to 'win souls for Christ', as they put it...They say the Lord calls them, when they yield to their own wishes. They say they 'forsake all' and go out for Him, after the manner of Peter, when they have little to forsake...Some young man has been selling tea or hardware, or setting potatoes, and some young lady who has been selling yards of ribbon, think it would be well to go out to `work for the Lord,' and in a spirit of self-sacrifice `go out for Him.' And because they like the idea, they imagine the Lord has called them to His work....Then they imagine the Lord Himself inspires them to speak, tells them to speak, tells them what to say, etc., when whatever we know of inspiration tells the direct contrary." (January 29, 1903, Impartial Reporter)
W. M. Rule wrote: "The condition of church life in the south of Ireland at that time was such that there were young Christians who were languishing for lack of spiritual good and were grieving over the want of ardor in the gospel among them. Such were attracted to these preachings, and mistook the vigorous denunciations and excitable preaching of the missioner for spiritual power and holy zeal. Ultimately, many of them were induced to unite with him." (Chapter: "The Cooneyites" or Go-Preachers and Their Doctrines in Heresies Exposed by W. M. Rule)
1902: THE FIRST 5-6 years, from 1897 through 1902, Irvine's group consisted of (1) converts who became recruiters, called "workers" or "servants" and (2) converts who did not become workers, called "saints". Edward Cooney indicated that the group consisted of two classes with a reference to "fellow workers and saints." "...please note that I am not a Cooneyite, but a Christian. Those in fellowship with me as fellow workers and saints are not Cooneyites, but Christians." (Fermanagh Times, April 18, 1907) "He (Ed Cooney) also referred to their sect as God's saints and servants." (Impartial Reporter, July 18, 1907).
"The 'tramp preachers' to the number of 600 have continued in conference for this past week at Crocknacrieve. Of this 600 there are about 300 workers, the other 300 being 'saints' and 'bishops'". (Impartial Reporter, July 25, 1907) It is sometimes stated that in the beginning ALL converts were workers, and there were no laymen or saints. However, the Author does not find any primary documentation showing this to be true. John Long gives the reason that meetings were set up in 1902 was to shepherd the young converts, so it would seem there were converts all along who did not become workers. G. Pattison gives names of many who were followers and yet were not listed on the 1905 Workers List. Goodhand Pattison and wife, as well as John and Sara West (owners of Crocknacrieve, the site of large scale conventions starting in 1904) were not workers. In addition, there were those who were too old to be workers (parents and grandparents, etc.) and some who were too young, such as Fannie Carroll. who was 14 when she professed. In the Author's opinion, there does not appear to be any basis for the statement that in the beginning, all converts became workers, and that there were no saints.
During this period (the FIRST 5-6 years, from 1897 through 1902) neither workers nor saints attended church meetings in homes, since home meetings were not set up until sometime around 1902. According to Ed Cooney, up until that time the first workers and saints continued worshipping in the denominations where they were members. "After that, a number of us who had been through the same experience, met in a room from time to time, to encourage one another to follow Jesus, still attending the same denominations we belonged to. At this time we believed that all who were born anew including ourselves, in the denominations, were children of God, needing to become continuing disciples..." (Letter to Alice Flett).
In the Early Days, the workers were chiefly evangelists or revivalist. They were not a church. They had not YET established churches in the homes. They did not baptize or marry others. Their mission was to bring souls to Christ. Period. "We had only one commission and that was to make disciples as we had been made; and we had only one authority, viz., if the Lord was with us, we would so live and speak that He would use us in getting people saved. And as they listened to us they would recognize the voice of Him because of the anointing. That was the simple outline in the days of our beginning. " (1931 Letter to Wilson McClung by Alfred Magowan)
IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND that the workers and their converts (1) continued to worship in the church they were members of or had been attending; or (2) chose an assembly of believers to worship with or (3) did not regularly attend a church. In other words, their recruits worshipped at the church of their choice, at their discretion. In fact, it was stated by the Impartial Reporter that Wm. Irvine gave up his connection with Faith Mission in part because "Irvine’s converts always lapsed and were lost among the clergy by going back to their own congregation or what is known as the churches." (August 25, 1910) This was their method for 5-6 years after the group's inception in 1897. The Go-Preachers were not a church or a sect--YET.
During the time period (1897 - 1903), evangelists and preachers of other denominations were looked upon as fellow labourers in Christ. It was not uncommon for the workers to invite other preachers to speak in their meetings. Many times in John Long's Journal, he lists the outside preachers who spoke at their special meetings. Also, some of the workers attended the Keswick Conventions in England, where there were preachers from numerous denominations. This means that at that time, other Pastors or Preachers, Christians and Churches were considered okay; they were accepted as fellow Christians. Following are quotes that show their viewpoint at that time.
John Long wrote: "As long as the work kept from exclusiveness, and remained unsectarian in manifestation, it was wonderfully used of God in the salvation of sinners and the making of disciples. At that time the workers occasionally went to the various churches and at times preached in them whenever the way opened up. That helped to disarm prejudice, and get at the unconverted to win them for Christ, leaving them to the option of their own will as to where they worship and get the most spiritual food." (John Long's Journal, June, 1898) The workers didn't baptize or set up meetings in homes where their converts took communion. Their converts selected the Protestant churches they attended. Up until 1903, if the convert had not been baptized previously, most likely they were baptized at the church of their choice.
Up until July, 1905, according to John Long, the Go Preachers believed that "The Salvation of the Soul is by grace through faith to everyone that repents and believes in Christ Jesus; and the experience, testimony and fruits of many clergymen bear witness to the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ. Up to that time they all believed that;" (John Long's Journal, July, 1905)
According to Ed Cooney, the first workers continued worshipping in the denominations where they were members. "After that, a number of us who had been through the same experience, met in a room from time to time, to encourage one another to follow Jesus, still attending the same denominations we belonged to. At this time we believed that all who were born anew including ourselves, in the denominations, were children of God, needing to become continuing disciples...I was born anew in the city of Armagh, Ireland, some time during 1884." (Letter to Alice Flett).
THERE WAS NO SEPARATION: So it seems they didn't baptize or set up meetings or break bread in homes. Their converts attended the Protestant church they selected and preferred. If the convert had not been baptized previously, it is likely that they were baptized by the church of their choice. Without knowing the background of the first 5-6 years given above, it is possible to read Goodhand Pattison's Account of the Early Days and conclude that it sure took him a long time to "come around." From the first time Pattison sat in Wm. Irvine's mission in Cloughjordan to the time he actually left the Methodist church and started going only to meetings was 5-6 years. During this time, he continued teaching Sunday school, continued as a Methodist elder and a part-time preacher. This was how things were done in the Go-Preacher Movement during the first 5-6 years. There was NO SEPARATION from other denominations. G. Pattison wrote:
"And I think I may truly say that while a process of "drawing out" on my part, together with a "squeezing out" on their part [Methodist church] was, more or less, in operation during these 5 or 6 years or more, it was not until I had completely shut off supplies in cash that they completely shut me out from taking part in their services (exercises), which was a kind of relief all round…"
The "5-6 years" refers to the period that began when Pattison first came in contact with William Irvine in 1897 and continued until he made a complete break with Methodism which was in mid-1903, the year he attended his first convention at Portadown.
The workers also believed each of their own original salvation experiences were valid and had saving power. Ed Cooney is reported in the June 2, 1904 Impartial Reporter as saying that: "he was glad to say he had been married to Jesus Christ twenty years ago, and had not been divorced yet." (1904 minus 20 years = 1884 when Cooney was saved--well before he met Wm. Irvine.) John West, owner of Crocknacrieve conventions grounds near Enniskillen believed he was saved before he met the Go-Preachers: "Mr. John West, Crocknacrieve, delighted in being able to give a personal testimony as to how he had been ‘saved’ ten years ago." [Editors Note: this would have been in 1894, before the Go-Preachers began. He was 'saved" outside of their instrumentality, and he spoke openly about it. They had not yet decided they were God's ONLY Way.] "He was, he said, bound to the Devil and was anxious about all this world’s way. He found he was wrong. He did not know where he would be on the day he would be called to eternity. He thought for himself and found that so long as he sought after the things of this World he had no hope for eternal life. It was not man who had brought him to Christ; it was his own thinking—thinking that he was wrong—thinking that he had no hope for salvation unless he joined Christ, which he had done ten years ago, and now could look to him as his Lord and Master." (Impartial Reporter October 20, 1904)
An ex-worker wrote TTT: "It's pretty common knowledge that George Walker's first contact with any of our fellowship was with Willie Gill, who was already professiung at the time he met George, but didn't go out to preach until a year or two after George did. I've personally heard George tell that story of his first acquaintance with Willie Gill that made him question his Methodist ministry. (Although George always insisted--and those who knew him well have emphasized it in workers meetings where I've been--that he had the new beginnings of new life while still preaching for the Methodist, before ever meeting friends and workers. Charles Steffen especially spoke this frequently, trying to combat Living Witness Doctrine and the tendency toward exclusivist judgments.)"
Willie Gill 's first companion was John Winter, also of Rathmolyon, but his name does not appear on the 1905 Workers List.
1902: SEPARATION FROM OTHERS BEGINS: As time marched on and as the need arose, William Irvine and his workers developed their teachings (doctrine), their format and their traditions. Their methods and beliefs evolved--they were NOT "the same yesterday, today and forever." Ed Cooney appropriately called it "groping their way." Wm Irvine did not receive from God a complete set of plans all at one time to put together or assemble the 2x2 method. It wasn't like the time God gave Moses the exact plans for building the tabernacle; or David to build the temple; or Noah to build the ark. Rather, Irvine's method changed, was remodeled and evolved as time went on. It was a process.
Their methods evolved...their belief system didn't come into existence with a single bolt of revelation. The Go-Preachers re-evaluated their methods and made some changes. These changes were duly noted in the Impartial Reporter. "They have changed from their methods two years ago...There is another change. Mr. Cooney was at one time of the opinion that a man should give all that he possessed to the poor. The logical outcome of that argument would be that there would in that case be no one to support the Tramps; and whatever caused the change of opinion, that doctrine is not now preached. There is more light on it, though the Scriptures remain the same as two years ago." (Impartial Reporter, October 13, 1904)
1902: THE FIRST BAPTISMS: Up until this time, "They did not teach the ordinances of Believer's Baptism, and the Lord's supper. The cause of this was they maintained their mission to be unsectarian..." (John Long's Journal, Sept, 1899) But this changed...
"Not long after my arrival (G. Pattison at Portadown Convention), perhaps the next day, Messrs. Irvine and Cooney together spoke to me on the subject of baptism, as at that convention for the first time to my knowledge, they started to baptise… I did not see my way clear just then to be baptized, thinking if I would get it done at all, it would be better at home...I may here say in passing that the subject of baptism before this time formed no part of William Irvine's teachings. In fact, I believe if at any time he did mention it in public it was in terms of distinct opposition, but probably as he and Eddie got around meeting one and another, especially a section of the Plyms (Plymouth Brethren) who were very strong on the subject, they saw the Scripture was on the Plym's side, and so were led to adopt the practice, as also in the matter of forming churches, both of which then were a good bit of a surprise to me; and if I may confess it, did not altogether meet with my approval being, as I then thought, just another attempt at forming a 'new party.'" (Accounts of the Early Days by G. Pattison, Conventions)
A couple years before this, however, in May of 1900, John Long, "desiring to consecrate my life forever to God, as an act of ordinance and sanctification with the burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I got baptized by immersion, believing it to be a personal act, with personal responsibility; also leaving others to the liberty of their own conscience." "Through adjusting my life and work to Scriptural ways and doctrines, I got baptized by immersion in a stream by George Grubb, in Rathmolyon, May 1900." (John Long's Journal, Jan, 1925 )
Baptism in public waters by immersion was most uncommon at that time, and so the event drew crowds. The first baptism reported by the Impartial Reporter was June 2, 1904 and took place at Strangford Lough. Subsequently, numerous baptisms held in the Enniskillen area were reported on in depth. They used sketches or illustrations rather than photos in the newspapers at that time. Illustrations from October 20 and October 27, 1904 Impartial Reporter can be viewed in the TTT Photo Gallery. (There are 2 illustrations: Select "next" to see both) Click Here for another sketch
Baptism by immersion outdoors was quite uncommon at that time. The curious public came out in droves to watch the unusual spectable of a "Dipping," and this is how the converts came by their nickname "Dippers." Sometimes at the baptism ceremonies, there was scoffing, laughing, jeering, taunting and even sticks and refuse were thrown that sometimes caused injuries and/or loss. Once onlookers "enticed a number of several dogs to enter in the midst of the converts" at the baptismal ceremony. Police had to intervene at times. At a baptism in Belfast, "some unruly boys congregated at the point where the converts enter the water for baptism. Many of the youngsters waded far our into the tide, and as the converts were conducted out to where there was a sufficient depth of water, they were subjected to a good deal of ridicule, while mud and dirt was thrown at them, and water was splashed over their forms, much to their discomfort." (August 14, 1906 Irish Independent)
At a baptism in Enniskillen, "The first female candidate for the immersion process...was led by two of the leaders of the sect into the water until it reached well above the knees, and undersent complete immersion. In her efforts to rise, the woman slipped from the arms of her supporters, and received a second involuntary immersion, amidst the jeers and laughter of the unsympathetic sectio of the onlookers." (June 6, 1905 Irish Independent)
COONEY'S HOLE: "The
first baptisms took place in the Ballinamallard River on a Sabbath evening in
September 1904 and drew a large crowd of onlookers. These took place under the
bridge next to the Soldiers of the Cross Hall at first, but this place
was abandoned in favour of the nearby mill race. The water here proved to shallow
for total immersion so a new spot was found further downstream, behind what
was then the creamery, now the Masonic Hall. This place in future years would
be known locally as ‘Cooney’s Hole.’" (From:
of Importance, Ballinamallard Historical Society, 2004, p66)
DESCRIPTION OF A 1904 BAPTISM: "Mr. Cooney, in the course of his remarks, described himself as "A Tramp Preacher" and quoted examples of baptism from the Scriptures by adult immersion, from the baptism by John the Baptist of our Lord down to the baptism of Lydia by Paul; and invited any one to show him a proof from the Bible of infant baptism. Having made an appeal to his hearers to repent in time before it was too late, the dipping ceremony commenced. The party congregated near the bank of the river and sang a hymn, while those to be immersed undressed themselves in a barn at the mill. As the neophytes approached, the party divided itself into two lines in semi-military fashion, and a Mr. Robert Elliott, formerly of the Dairies, near Derrygonnelly, a strong man of powerful build, clad in woollen shirt and trousers, entered the water up to his waist, while the neophytes came one by one through the living lane made for them.
"First came five young men, and Mr. Elliott, repeating the name of the person to be immersed, said—‘I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and Holy Ghost.’ He then ducked the neophyte completely under the water, neatly, and without splashing; his great strength enabled him to restore the ducked person to an erect position again easily. Some girls then followed, and the shock of the water was so great to the first girl that it was feared she would faint, but she composed herself sufficiently to go through the ceremony. Notwithstanding the exhortation not to scoff, some young men were provoked to laughter by the splashing of some of the girls in recovering the erect position, which caused a Scotch Pilgrim subsequently to warn these young men that they would have to answer for it on the Day of Judgment. By this time another number of young men had caught the enthusiasm of the moment, and they also decided to be dipped, so that on the whole 27 people received the act of immersion." (Sept. 29, 1904 Impartial Reporter)
The Mr. Elliott referred to in the above excerpt was usually called "Tom." The author is not sure if the name "Robert" given in the article is an error, or whether Robert and Tom were both names of Mr. Elliott. In any event, Tom Elliott was selected to do much of the baptising, probably due in part to his physique, and was nicknamed, "Tom the Baptist." According to Patricia Roberts, "It was Tom who baptised them all" (The Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney, p 153)
The Impartial Reporter carried the following article in 1904:
THE PILGRIM TRAMPS - THE RITE OF BAPTISM. IMMERSION OF 27 FOLLOWERS IN THE BALLINAMALLARD RIVER
"Ballinamallard has become the Jerusalem of Pilgrim Tramps, and the Ballycassidy River their Jordan. Last Sunday witnessed the baptism of about 27 Tramps, male and female, and the unusual scene was witnessed by a crowd of interested spectators.
"It is right to mention that for the last few weeks a conference of the Tramp fraternity has been held at Crocknacrieve, which has been converted into a huge hotel by Mr. John West for his numerous guests, over 120 are said to be accommodated in the house alone. Hither flocked Tramps from Scotland, England, and Ireland, and so far as the outside world can judge, Mr. Edward Cooney (after whom they are generally called Cooneyites) seems to be the accepted high priest or leader, a post at one time held by Mr. Irwin…One result of the convention was the baptismal ceremony of Sunday...Hither the whole party of Tramps proceeded and conducted devotional exercises, while all around were a number of spectators anxious to see the uncommon ceremony.
"Mr. Edward Cooney delivered an address, in the course of which he spoke of his own experience, how he went out to preach the Gospel, and the commission given at the day of Pentecost…He then referred to the passage, ‘Repent, and be baptised and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost,’ and pressed upon his hearers, first to repent and then be baptised after the manner of the Scriptures. Mr. Cooney had no hesitation in affirming his own authority to baptise, his own authority to preach and teach.. He then referred to John the Baptist baptising our Lord in the river Jordan, and said that in the same way our Lord’s disciples must confess His name and be baptised in the same manner as all the baptisms in the scriptures had been carried out. They were to be baptised, not as the Archbishop of Canterbury said, nor by the manner prescribed by the Moderator of the General Assembly, or the President of the Methodist Conference; ‘but’ said Mr. Cooney—‘You must follow the example of Jesus of Nazareth, and HE HAS COMMANDED ME not only to make disciples of all nations, but to teach them to be baptised in his Name.’ He then warned scoffers and jesters not to make light of baptism. They should not scoff at what Jesus Christ himself passed through; it would make their hearts harder and deaden them to good influences. Perhaps some of them might think he was not good enough company for them, but so long as he followed Jesus Christ he was the best of good company for them, and he would thank them to show him from the Bible where they were not acting up to the Scriptural method of baptism. Mr. Cooney, at times, dipped into the usual Evangelical method of advising his hearers to repent and to be baptised. Baptism was not necessary for salvation, but just as a wife should live in obedience to her husband, so they should live in obedience to the example of the Lord Himself, and be baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
"Mr. Cooney, in the course of his remarks, described himself as ‘A TRAMP PREACHER,’ and quoted examples of baptism from the Scriptures by adult immersion, from the baptism by John the Baptist of our Lord down to the baptism of Lydia by Paul; and invited any one to show him a proof from the Bible of infant baptism. Having made an appeal to his hearers to repent in time before it was too late, the dipping ceremony commenced. The party congregated near the bank of the river and sang a hymn, while those to be immersed undressed themselves in a barn at the mill. As the neophytes approached, the party divided itself into two lines in semi-military fashion, and a Mr. Robert Elliott, formerly of the Dairies, near Derrygonnelly, a strong man of powerful build, clad in woollen shirt and trousers, entered the water up to his waist, while the neophytes came one by one through the living lane made for them.
"First came five young men, and Mr. Elliott, repeating the name of the person to be immersed, said—‘I baptize thee in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and Holy Ghost.’ He then ducked the neophyte completely under the water, neatly, and without splashing; his great strength enabled him to restore the ducked person to an erect position again easily. Some girls then followed, and the shock of the water was so great to the first girl that it was feared she would faint, but she composed herself sufficiently to go through the ceremony…By this time another number of young men had caught the enthusiasm of the moment, and they also decided to be dipped, so that on the whole 27 people received the act of immersion." (Impartial Reporter September 29, 1904)
From the Impartial Reporter:
THE TRAMPS - ANOTHER DIPPING SCENE AT BALLINAMALLARD.
35 PERSONS DIPPED IN THE RIVER .
"Ballinamallard was the scene of another ‘dipping’ on Sunday last. The account of first baptismal service of the Pilgrim Tramps in the IMPARTIAL REPORTER brought double the number of spectators on Sunday, and the weather was quite as favourable, but there was an unexpected interruption which quite marred the effect of the proceedings. The scene was the same, that bend of the river which is now called ‘Cooney’s Hole’ locally. The Tramps had conducted their convention during the week at Crocknacrieve, and the same 120 or 130 persons were lodged and fed in the house—some of the rooms accommodating eight or ten people." (Impartial Reporter October 6, 1904)
For additional articles on baptism scenes see the following newspaper issues:
June 2, 1904 - Impartial Reporter
October 13, 1904 - Impartial Reporter
October 20, 1904 - Impartial Reporter
October 27, 1904 - Impartial Reporter
November 10, 1904 - Impartial Reporter
March 14, 1907 - The Fermanagh Times, Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland
August 20, 1907 - The Irish Independent
1902: THE FIRST SUNDAY MORNING MEETINGS are set up. Irvine and Cooney began to baptize, form churches and to serve the emblems on Sundays. They baptized new converts who had not been previously baptized; but NOT those who had been previously baptised. John Long gives the reason the meetings were set up: "About that time Edward Cooney began to baptize his converts and form assemblies according to the model in the Acts, namely meeting together on the first day of the week for fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. The opposition against the work from the clergy and churches rendered it necessary to reform, also the responsibility of shepherding young converts." (John Long's Journal for July, 1902)
John Long set up some meetings at Wm Irvine's request. "I went to County Tipperary and baptized many disciples; and helped to form there assemblies. One in Cloughjordan in the home of Goodhand Pattison; also in the home of Falkiners, Hillsborough, Borrisokane; and in the home of Hodgins, Lorrha." (John Long's Journal, August, 1903)
The Go-Preachers received some strong criticism of some because they did not administer the sacraments of baptism and communion. The Editor of the Impartial Reporter objected to the omission of communion on the following grounds: “But there is harm also, as we have indicated, and above all, of their ignoring the solemn rite of the Lord’s Supper commanded by the Lord himself. What excuse can possibly be offered for ignoring the most solemn and sacred of all Christian institutions we cannot tell. Mr. Cooney says, ‘I am commissioned:’ no one knows who commissioned him: and no one knows who commissioned his followers or any of preachers to disregard the command—‘As oft as ye do this, do it in remembrance of Me.’ No excuse that we know of can be urged for the serious offence of avoiding the Lord’s Supper.” (October 27, 1904, p.5 )
Two places are credited with being the location of the "FIRST"
Sunday fellowship meeting to ever be held. One location is the Crocknacrieve
gate lodge in Ballinamallard, and the other is over Weirs Store at 21 Upper Baggott Street in Dublin. "In
1901 John West bought Crocknacrieve House, and the following year the first
Cooneyite camp meetings were held in the gate lodge." The gate
lodge is a very small building at the entrance to the Crocknacrieve land. The
reference source for this statement also relates that the first Crocknacrieve
convention was held in 1904, so the "camp meeting" did not
refer to a convention, but to a fellowship meeting. ("Ballinamallard--A
Place of Importance," Ballinamallard Historical Society, 2004)
It is commonly known in Ireland that the first fellowship meeting in Dublin, Ireland took place over Weir's Hardware Store. Whether these were the first fellowship meetings to EVER be held, or the first meeting to be held in the City of Dublin and at Crocknacrieve is unknown to the Author. This Weir Store building is in good condition and is being used today as a retail store. The author walked through it in August, 2004 and picked up a brochure about the business and building that is reprinted in the TTT Photo Gallery. A photo of Weirs Store may be viewed in the TTT Photo Gallery. This Weir family lived over their store. There were eleven children in the Weir family, and 10 survived. Reportedly, sister worker Edie Weir left the work due to rheumatic fever, and lived above Weir's store until her death. Irvine Weir was one of the first worker to go to America and also pioneered California. Harry Weir married Agnes Carroll.
It wasn't until 1907 that the first references to church meetings being held in homes began to crop up in the Impartial Reporter. Before 1907, the old newspaper articles had referred only to workers, Go-Preachers, Tramps, Pilgrims, etc. Ed Cooney mentioned that “The first Christians met in the homes of saints…the true church is a man’s home.” (August 12, 1909, page 5). “Mr. Cooney declaimed against church buildings because Christ brake bread and gave wine in disciples’ houses. He preached in the houses of saints. That was God’s way…” (August 5, 1909)
The church meetings held by Irvine’s movement were similar to the weekly Prayer Union meetings held by the Faith Mission which are described by I. R Govan in The Spirit of Revival: “There is a small gathering of men and women, and we shake hands all round and exchange greetings. The meeting begins with singing--singing from the heart, and how it lifts our spirits! There are testimonies, up-to-date--how the Lord has spoken in His Word, answered prayer, proved Himself Savior and Friend in everyday life. Someone tells of new joy in service. Then after a word of exhortation from the District Pilgrim, and some news of the work, we get on our knees, and the things of time are forgotten, as we are brought into contact with the eternal world and our eternal God. The meeting closes, and the little company pass out with something of the joy of heaven in their hearts.” (pps 67-68)
Taking the emblems at the Sunday meeting of the 1907 Crocknacrieve Convention
was described in detail: "At the conclusion of the morning service
last Sunday morning the ‘Tramps’ celebrated Holy Communion. The
service was quaint. There was no bright silver chalice for the wine, or
was the bread cut in small pieces and neatly arranged on a silver paten. No
one presided at the ceremony. The ‘Tramps’ sat in the large
tent where they dine and hold their meetings. Thanks having been offered
up by Mr. Edward Cooney, bread was handed round by men workers (women workers
never take any part in the ceremony except to receive Communion) to those present. A
loaf is cut into six parts, and one of these parts is given to each row. The
first person receiving the bread breaks off a small piece and eats it, passing
on the bread to the next, who also breaks off a piece and hands it on to his
neighbour, and so on. After the bread has thus been passed round and eaten,
the wine is sent round. The wine is in ordinary earthenware jugs and is
poured into mugs which are then handed round. There was no singing at the
ceremony. No one spoke or made a sound while the bread and wine were being
passed round." (Impartial Reporter, July
NOTE: Some mistakenly believe the first church meetings in the homes were set up in the year 1908. However, John Long's Journal and Goodhand Pattison's Account of the Early Days which were not available to Mr. Parker at the time of publication of his book indicates that the year was actually 1902. The 1908 date is derived from the following statement found in The Secret Sect: “...Irvine and Cooney both apparently experienced inward conflict over the matter of the emergence of congregations for some years, until 1908 when Irvine sanctioned house church meetings, and when the body of believers was divided officially into saints and workers." (The Secret Sect by Doug & Helen Parker, pps 24-25)
1903, July - Rathmolyon Convention: "Seventy of Irvine's converts met at William Gill's farm at Rathmolyon late in 1903 for a convention that lasted three weeks. They passed the severe test of entry to the new fellowship by giving over all to the common purse and by casting off all allegiance to their former ways of life...At that convention he laid down the values and standards that were to be kept by his selected preachers, and a strict form of asceticism was made the rule of life." (Secret Sect by Doug Parker, p. 12)
John Long wrote: "After that we went to a Convention in Rathmolyon. From that time all the workers began to baptize, and separate their converts; form them into assemblies to meet together on the first day of the week for fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. Acts 2:42. Also, they appointed bishops, or elders over them. William Irvine emphasized separation but not exclusiveness. It was from that conference a few workers including William Irvine, went to America for a gospel tour." (John Long's Journal, July 1903)
John Coles, father of sister worker Lily (Lizzie) Coles told a Morning Leader Reporter: "Two years ago they had a conference in Ireland at which my daughter was present. My daughter told me that they met according to the apostolic teaching in Acts. Everybody, whether he had much or little put it into the common stock: and then the total collection was dis tributed equally among those present. "So that it may have been—mind you, I am not sure—that at that time Cooney brought in several thousand pounds." The conference then separated, each going to his or her duty. “That," said Mr. Coles, " is how they work."
Mr. Coles added some further details on the financial side. When, he said, they have been on a mission for three weeks, and are about to leave, they call their converts tog ether and say, "Now we are sitting together at he Lord's table.” They break the bread together, and then they will ask for financial assistance. They will address one of the convents thus: "Mr. Smith, you spend a shilling a week in tobacco. You’ll have to give up smoking, and give the shilling to the Lord’s work.” Mr. Smith does give up the money, and any more he can spare. Their position is: "We don't want money from the world or the devil, but from God’s people who have been blessed under our work." "And that," said Mr. Coles, "is what we mean when we say that God will provide sustenance. I know one man who lost his arm while working on a railway, and he is so enamored of the work that he goes without dinner in order to be able to s end the money on to the movement! And I know still another who often does the same thing." (June 14, 1906 Morning Leader)
FIRST MARRIED WORKER COUPLES: Some of the first workers were married when they offered for the work in the Early Days. The following married pairs were among the FIRST WORKERS to go out preaching:
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Betty – 3 sons
Mr. and Mrs. Tom Elliott – no children - gave up their farm near Enniskillen
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson McClung – no children (Impartial Reporter, June 21, 1906)
Mr. and Mrs. William (Bill) Carroll - one daughter born in 1901 (May Carroll Schultz)
A list of workers who were married and their children has been compiled from many sources, both written and verbal, and most listings were verified by more than one source. See: Married Worker List
Did the married workers preach as a pair? Or were they split up and preached with a same sex companion? Was celibacy mandatory for the married workers? Following the married workers on the workers lists through time shows that they preached together most of the time, but not always. Some started out preaching as a married pair, while others married after they were in the work. According to the following report written by an outside reporter, the policy changed from what it was in the Early Days.
A "saint" may have his own settled home, but they deem it to be wholly wrong for a "true preacher" to have a settled home and family. They discourage marriage, and in a subtle way forbid the marriage of their preachers. Originally, those who were married before they were received among them generally separated. The children were given up and the husband and wife were sent out apart, with the other preachers. We now learn that this has been recently somewhat modified. The husband and wife are now allowed to go together. In justification of this they quote, wrest, and grossly misapply the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Who is My mother? and who are My brethren? ...For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother (Matt. 12:48-50).( Heresies Exposed, published in 1921 (29 printings) By W.M.R., Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ. See Chapter: "The Cooneyites or Go-Preachers and Their Doctrines," Pp 73-78]
Children were born to some married workers while they were in the work (Christies had 2; Beatties had 4). It seems that celibacy among married workers was not strictly followed.
For a time, there did not appear to be a universal worldwide policy regarding married workers. Permission as to whether two workers could marry or whether a married couple could enter the work was granted or denied on an individual basis. It is quite likely that this type decision was left entirely up to Wm Irvine. However, after Wm. Irvine was removed from leadership in 1914, this responsibility would have fallen to other Overseers. For a time, there didn’t appear to be a universal policy regarding married workers among the numerous overseers worldwide.
Some couples who were already married offered for the work and were accepted. In other cases, the explanation given is that some workers "had to marry" in order to be allowed to enter certain countries and take the gospel there. This was the reason given for Sandy and Eva Scott to preach in Italy; and John and Annie Micheletos to preach in Greece.
Jack Carroll allowed his cousin, Dave Christie, who married sister worker Emily Wilson, to remain in the work, and they pioneered Hawaii in 1923. On the 1922 North American Workers List there were 6 married couples (Klevens, McIllwraths, Dunshees, Doaks, DeGroots, Richters). Two years later on the 1925 List there were 9 married couples (Walkers, Gards and Christies were added). Two years later the 1926 North American Workers List shows 12 married couples (Grahams, Byes and Browns were added). Jack Carroll’s decision seemed to have a rippling effect for the three years after the Christies’ marriage was blessed by Jack Carroll.
There is a similarity in the situations of the Carrolls, McClungs, Grahams, Micheletos to the Faith Mission policy regarding marriage of their Superintendents. The Faith Mission allowed their Superintendents to marry and the Superintendents stayed in one place for several years and were the overseers of a number of itinerant Faith Mission Pilgrims or workers. However, the Faith Mission “Pilgrims” as they called their preachers/evangelists were not allowed to be married; and a Pilgrim had to leave the Faith Mission if he/she became engaged or married. The Carrolls, McClungs, Grahams, Micheletos were all overseers (a synonym for “superintendents”) of the workers and were all married. There was a similarity for a time in this regard, but this changed.
CHILDREN: It would seem that while Wm. Irvine was in leadership, he required that the children of married workers be left behind while their parents went out preaching. After Irvine was no longer the world overseer, some married worker couples kept their children with them some or most of the time they were preaching (Beatties, Carrolls and Christies). An Irish reporter wrote:
"The Pilgrims...do not concede that you serve God where you are placed; you must leave your place and family and go out with them...Their idea is that a saint cannot remain in the world but must go out to preach the (i.e. their) gospel and hunt for saints...to this end they give up their situations ...a few others have given up a lucrative business connection. Some have sold their farms." (Impartial Reporter, January 29, 1903).
When Bill & Maggie sailed to Australia in 1913, they took their daughter May with them. Wm Irvine required the Beatties to leave their oldest son who was 18 months old with someone else when they went into the work in 1911; however, from historical accounts about the Beatties, it seems that their other 3 children remained with them some or most of the time they were preaching. The difference may have been due to the removal of Wm. Irvine from leadership in 1914, which was only three years after the Beatties entered the work.
Paul Abenroth wrote of a conversation he had with an elderly lady, Mrs. Thonney of Walla Walla, Washington. Although she had never met Willie Jamieson herself, she remembered his full name and this story which happened around 100 years ago. Paul suggests that if it had occurred in our own family, many would find such an event sufficiently shocking to be memorable and recounted for many years.
"The elder Mrs. Thonney (whose maiden name was Klassen) related to me the following story. Even though it happened before she was born she never forgot it, because her parents, the Klassens, often told her and her siblings about it. In 1906, Willie Jamieson arrived in Paso Robles, California, where the Klassen family lived. Willie asked if he could stay with the family a while, and the Klassens invited him to do so. At this time Klassens had one young child who was Mrs. Thonney's older sister. While Willie was staying with them and preaching, he tried to talk the Klassens into leaving their young child in the care of someone else and go out preaching.
“In time, the Klassens rejected Willie's preaching, not only because they found his suggestion of child abandonment so distasteful, but also because, as they expressed it, they 'did not discern in his preaching the voice of the Shepherd.' Willie became visibly angry with the Klassens when his overtures to them were refused. Many years later, after the Klassen family had relocated to southeastern Idaho, Willie Jamieson stopped in to visit them to see if they had changed their mind and might be favorable toward coming into fellowship with the friends and workers. They let Willie know their minds had not changed."
The head worker of BC/Alberta, Robert Graham, married sister worker Maude Pryor, who was 20 years younger than he, and they had 5 children. They left the work sometime after they began having children--after 1929). Wm. Irvine required Ralph and Rene Beattie to leave their 18 month old son behind. Erne Punke married Finney while they were both workers, as did George and Ella Johnson, Joe and Grace Brown and Dave & Emily Christie.
Chester Sweetland and Clara Den Herder dated before they decided to go in the work. However, around 1950, "Chet and Clara's love for each other won the battle, and they married. They were told they couldn’t be workers anymore. This was the first thing that caused Dr. Rittenhouse and Wm. Sweetland to question 'the way.'" (Kay Arvig Downs' Letter to Kathy Lewis, 9/2/92) Jack Carroll would not consent to the couple remaining in the work.
Dr. Walter Rittenhouse and Will H. Sweetland heard the workers and left their respective churches to become a part of the workers' fellowship in the 1930's. According to Kay Arvig Downs, "They lived in San Diego and were thought of by everyone in the 2x2s as THE BEST of all the SAINTS and were right there next to the oldest and highest worker, who was then Jack Carroll over all the West Coast area. It was probably because they had lots of money. One or both of these men owned the property and lake at Hayden Lake, Idaho convention grounds, just a few miles from the big Lake Coeur d'Alene, near Spokane. Dr. Rittenhouse had a mansion of a home on a hill with a long winding driveway to it, hidden in acres of fruit trees, all in (now) the heart of the San Diego city area. Sweetland's home was more modest." (9/2/92 Letter to Kathleen Lewis)
"Before they knew anything about "the truth," Dr. Rittenhouse (the older) and Wm. Sweetland (in mid-life) or youth met each other and became close friends via business, land purchase, etc. It was Dr. Rittenhouse who had the first money and Sweetland was his assistant…When I met them in 1939, they were highly respected …They had joined them earlier…thinking that the workers' 'way' was nearest right…These men were wealthy and the workers all over the West side of the U.S. depended highly on their support." (Kay Arvig Downs 10/22/92 Letter to Kathleen Lewis)
Dr. Rittenhouse and Will Sweetland could not see a good reason Will’s son Chester and Clara should not be allowed to remain in the work. Didn’t Jack Carroll have a married brother in the work? And hadn’t Jack Carroll upheld the marriage of his cousin, Dave Christie and Emily Wilson (both workers at the time), and allowed them to remain in the work in 1923 and publicly endorsed their marriage from the Miltown convention platform? Rittenhouse and Sweetland didn't view their denial to Chester and Clara as being "scriptural or reasonable," and began debating scripture and practices with the workers on this and other subjects, fully expecting that the errors would be corrected by those in charge. However, this was not to be.
Rittenhouse and Sweetland reminded Jack Carroll of his earlier comments on the subject: "We also recall your comments at Miltown in 1923 relative to Dave and Emily Christie’s marriage. 'There is a difference between I Cor. 3 & 4, and Chapter 9. If Chapters 3-4 deal with the marks of true ministers, then Chapter 9 deals with the rights and liberties of true ministers.' Further, in your sermon at Miltown you said, 'We must be true to what God has revealed, and recognize the rights and liberties which are the heritage of all God’s servants. We cannot and will not therefore, refuse them a place in this ministry or the right to speak from this platform.' In the light of these and other statements made by yourself and older brethren, we cannot conceive how you, Jack, dare to distort I Cor. 9:5 now, to fit a new man-made rule. This ruling has no parallel, except to that of the priests and nuns of the Catholic Church." (July 16, 1954 Letter to Jack, Willie & Brethren by Rittenhouse and Sweetland) [Click Here to read Jack Carroll's sermon given at Miltown, Washington] Excerpt:
“For fourteen years, Emily Wilson has been one of the most faithful and unselfish workers on the Coast, has given those years ungrudgingly to all in true service, and we hope she will not lose a single friend because of this step. David Christie has had the seal of God in other fields, and we trust he will have the seal of God in his labors in the Hawaiian Islands… Lest some should become unduly alarmed because of what has been said, it may be well to say that over 95% of workers in every field voluntarily remain unmarried for the gospel's sake. Less than 5% claim the right to marry, which Paul claimed in I Corinthians 9.”
Not getting anywhere, Rittenhouse and Sweetland carefully composed several typed letters to Jack Carroll and other workers. [Click Here for letters]. Jack held fast to his decision and Dr Rittenhouse and Will Sweetland left the church greatly disappointed and never returned.
Apparently sometime in the thirty-one years between 1923 and 1954, the decision was made not to allow any additional married worker couples to preach—at least in Jack Carroll's territory. The Christie's marriage was endorsed in 1923; however, after their marriage in 1954, Chester Sweetland and Clara Den Herder were not allowed to continue in the work. What caused this change in policy?
With this change in policy, the other married worker couples in the USA were "grandfathered" in; i.e. they were allowed to remain in the work, but newly married couples were not allowed to preach. When their spouse died, some of the surviving spouses continued in the work with same sex companions. By 1960-70, nearly all the early married workers were retired. Currently, there is only one a married worker couple left in the entire world, Martin and Betty Medica, who labor in the Caribbean. Married workers going about the world preaching has been phased out. Workers can no longer choose to exercise their right as expressed by Paul in 1 Cor. 9:5: “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?”
The decision not to allow any additional married worker couples to preach troubled some friends and workers and raised questions. If married workers were not “right,” then how does that affect their converts? Some questions asked were: Are the friends in Hawaii “really saved” if they professed through married workers Joe and Grace Brown; or Dave and Emily Christie? Some viewed them as “lesser” saints who might not even be a part of the same fold. Also, sad to say, it has been reported that some of the married worker couples were looked down upon, treated as “less than,” and shunned by some of the friends and workers. Disapproval of workers marrying was evident when monetary support was withdrawn from workers in foreign fields who married while they were in the work. When Ern Punke married Finney (both were workers), “some wanted him kicked out of that ministry…and it was long years before he was invited home to Australia.” Ern’s brother appealed to George Walker and Ern was finally brought back to Australia for a home visit. (Ron Campbell letter – no date).
If the current worker shortage continues, perhaps the workers will reconsider and allow married workers again.
1903 - WORLD OUTREACH
Today, gospel meetings are tested for those who choose to profess and become a "saint." Back then, meetings were also tested for volunteers to become workers, as well as volunteers for the work in foreign countries. The role of the "saint" had yet to be fully developed and there were no meetings in their homes until 1902. Fannie Carroll said:
"At Christmas time Jack and I went to the City of Belfast to special meetings. Those meetings were tested to see how many would go in the work, and several said they would. We were amongst them. Tom Lyness was another. Sam Jones who wrote so many of our hymns was another....Then in 1905 many workers, over sixty of them, left for overseas."
"As usual, the call for volunteers for work in distant lands met with a response, a large number offering their services for America, South Africa, and Australia." (Impartial Reporter, July 23, 1908, "Convention of Tramps Held at Crocknacrieve" )
"At the convention held annually in Belfast, brothers and sisters volunteer for the work in the Colonies, which is very much the same as the work here." (Edie Easy in letter to her mother, February 3, 1907 Lloyd's Weekly)
1903: FIRST PIONEER WORKERS: After the 1903 Rathmolyon Convention, the workers began to venture around the world to preach. They first pioneered the work in the English speaking countries of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Because of the changes that had taken place earlier, and the foundational convention at Rathmolyon, they would separate their converts from other Christians, Churches and Pastors in these countries from their Christian brothers and baptize them and set up meetings in homes. Their recruits in the newly pioneered countries would not likely be aware that this had not always been their practice and procedure.
ELLIS ISLAND, NEW YORK: Ellis Island lies in the New York harbor, and was a US immigration station for more than 60 years. The American Family Immigration History Center is located at Ellis Island. From Ellis Island, twelve million immigrants approached America's "front doors to freedom" in the early twentieth century. During its peak years, 1892 through 1924, Ellis Island received thousands of immigrants a day. The passenger records for persons passing through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, when it closed its doors, are found on their website. Over 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry in the United States to a man, woman or child whose name passed form a steamship manifest sheet to an inspector's record book in the great Registry Room at Ellis Island. Records include, among other items: name, gender, marital status, year of arrival, ethnicity, age on arrival, date and port of departure, name of ship, and the name of the friend or relative they were to visit, and amount of money on them. The Main Building on Ellis Island was restored to its former grandeur in September, 1990, and today it houses the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, which is "dedicated to commemorating the immigrant's stories of trepidation and triumph, courage and rejection, and the lasting image of the American dream." Records of the American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island may be viewed free of charge at: http://www.ellisisland.org
1903: UNITED STATES - FIRST GROUP OF (3) WORKERS LEAVE FOR AMERICA: According to the Passenger Records of Ellis Island, departing from Glasgow, Scotland on September 5, 1903, on the Ship Columbia, and arriving in New York on September 14, 1903, were William Irvine, George Walker and Irvine Weir.
William Irvine, age 40 yrs, Scotch (Passenger No. 18)
George Walker, age 26 yrs, Irish (Passenger No. 19)
Irvine Weir, age 25 yrs, Irish (Passenger No. 20)
View Columbia Ship Manifest for Sept. 14, 1903
He was put out of the church he started in his hometown of Kilsyth, Scotland for not being willing to make it his headquarters.. Wm Irvine wrote Dunbars "In September 1903 I was put out of Church I had formed in my native town because I would not make it the head of the work I was doing...” In a brief summary of events, there is this line: "Put out of Kilsyth Church and started for USA in 1903."(October 13, 1920 Letter to Dunbars).
"In Sept, 1903, I sailed for U.S.A. with George Walker and Irvine Weir, who quarreled the first night they went out without me, which was the second day…and I returned on September 5, 1904, next year to a day. Spent a year at home.” (October 13, 1920 Letter to Dunbars)
"Andrew Abernathy spoke of George (Walker) coming to Philadelphia 78 years ago this month, and having his FIRST MISSION near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Said the gospel he and his companion preached promised liberty and independence from the bondage of sin, false religion and wrong doctrine." (Account of Geo. Walker's last days, death and funeral)
In the USA, Teddy Roosevelt was president. The harvest field was wide open. The 1900 census counted a total U.S. population of 76 million people who were there before the workers ever arrived to save them. According to Encarta Encyclopedia, "In 1900, the United States was an overwhelmingly white (88%) and rural (60%) society in which few people had completed high school (14%) and most were under 35 years of age (70%). New York was the most populous state, with 7.3 million people, and New York City, with 3.4 million people, was the nation's largest city. American households averaged 4.8 people. About 13% of all women worked outside the home. Eight thousand automobiles cruised American roads."
The workers who were going to America were asked by their converts to contact family members who had relocated to North America. The workers were given the names and addresses of family, and many American and Canadian converts were gained through these introductions. This occurred repeatedly, and it is not uncommon today for the workers to use this same type of introduction to invite people to their recruiting meetings. This was the case with the McIntires, the first Americans to profess.
Wm Irvine, George Walker and Irvine Weir sailed to America by the least expensive method, as Steerage Passengers. This was a dreadful way to travel. See links below.
"George [Walker] told of his coming to this country in the early years of this century. He was in Liverpool, England and three [Cherie’s note: the other 2 men were WiIliam Irvine and Irvine Weir. Why three men? Why not four so they could go 2x2?] planned to come together. There was First Class passage - the most expensive, then there was Second Class, which was cheaper, and then Steerage. The cost of a ticket from Liverpool to New York was $27.00 and they got three tickets.
"They left Liverpool on a Friday night and sailed across the Irish Sea to Belfast, where on Saturday they loaded cargo and passengers. About five of them left and sailed out around the north end of Ireland and into the North Atlantic Ocean. The sea was raging and rough. They tried to stay on deck but they were all sick and after awhile they went down into the lower part of the ship where they had been given bunks, and tried to rest. They were sick all day Sunday and Monday. George said, "On Tuesday I felt we have got to get up and walk around or we won't be able to walk off the ship when we get to New York.”
"Finally it was announced they would be arriving in New York on a Monday morning about 7 o'clock. All prepared to disembark. They let the First Class passengers off first and then the Second Class passengers. The Steerage Passengers were loaded into boats and taken to Ellis Island for inspection, so George and his companions went there. There were crowds of people there to meet their relatives. Finally, about 11 o'clock the customs officers had examined them, asking all their questions, and told them they could go." (Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America-1979)
Below are some links to very interesting (horror!) accounts of what it was like to travel as a Steerage Passenger.
1903: FIRST SISTER WORKER to go in the work in America was MAGGIE ROWE : While the first three brother workers to arrive in America were traveling on the ship Columbia, they met a young woman named Maggie Rowe. (Click here to view: Ellis Island Passenger Record for Magie Rowe. She listened to their preaching and professed either while on the ship or shortly after arriving in the states. Maggie Rowe started in the work with Emma Gill when she arrived in America on December 8, 1904 aboard the Furnessia. (Click Here to veiw: Ellis Island Passenger Record for Emma Gill.) The pair went to North Dakota to Emma's sister and family: Fred and Mary Ann (Gill) Hughes and family. Maggie Rowe was the FIRST SISTER worker to go in the work in North America. Her time in the work was short and she isn't listed on the 1905 workers list. "She didn't continue in the work. She got married and her daughter lives out in British Columbia, out West somewhere, and when Garrett has been out there for conventions, he met this daughter and had a talk. This daughter knew that Maggie Rowe was one of the first workers in our home." (Hazel Hughes Account, 1971 )
1903: FIRST PEOPLE TO PROFESS IN THE U.S.A were Mr. & Mrs. George McIntire/McIntyre. One list shows George arrived in America in January, 1902. “He (George Walker) and a couple others [Authors Note: Wm Irvine & Irvine Weir] arrived in New York harbor Sept. 14, 1903…To his knowledge there were no friends or workers in America previous to this…One of the friends in Ireland had a relative that lived in New York, a young lady, Mrs. McIntire. She and her husband received a letter from this lady in Ireland, asking that they would meet the boat. The McIntires said some time later that they were of the mind not to, but a voice seemed to urge Mrs. McIntire to go, so she and her husband stood calling out the name "George Walker" from behind a fence there at Ellis Island until George heard them. They took them home for the night and later the McIntires professed -- the FIRST of those in America that George knew of.” (Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America-1979) .
"At first they felt, 'we won't do it' but then she felt 'what will my sister think? We can meet them.' So her husband took off from work, and they rented an apartment for two weeks for these three strangers. They told them, "We will take you to our home and you can have dinner, then we will take you to this apartment since we only have a 4-room apartment and no room to keep you overnight." The name of this couple was George and Edith McIntyre, and they were the first to profess in the workers' meetings. Not long afterward, his brother Dan and wife professed out on Staten Island." (Account of George Walker's Early Days-1988)
The Ellis Island Ship Manifests have a column for this passenger information: "Whether going to join a relative or friend and if so, what relative or friend and his complete name and address." Many of the early workers who came to the USA used the McIntires as the "friend" they were going to visit. Usually (1) Dan/Don McIntire, 132 Vandyke Street, Brooklyn, New York or (2) George McIntire, 132 Coffey Street, Brooklyn, NY; or (3) C. B. Wilson, 6401 Leeds Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Irvine Weir would later be excommunicated by George Walker: Ed Cooney wrote: "Irvine Weir has written me that George Walker, Tom Tuft and the bishop in whose house Irvine meets, came to his home. George told Irvine that he would instruct the bishop to close his house to him (Irvine Weir) unless he promised not to speak in the meetings. Irvine (Weir) refused, so without any scriptural reason being given, he (Irvine Weir) has been cut off. Pray for him that he may stand firm and seek only to please God.” (Letter “To the Churches in Alabama and Kentucky” dated August 1, 1948 in The Life & Ministry of Eddie Cooney by Patricia Roberts, page 56)
George Walker said about Irvine Weir's excommunication: "Some while later I asked George about the two men which came with him in 1903. They were Irvine Weir and William Irvine. Sadly both men got off on the wrong track. George said that Irvine Weir had a weakness for divine healing and later on in life wrote his sister that nothing could hurt him because he served God. Before the letter arrived, he fell off a ladder, rose up and said, 'I'm all right,' then died. He had said that some of the friends, who got killed couldn't have been doing God's will. George said, 'I have been left alone in many things.'" (Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America-1979) Irvine Weir was born December 7, 1878 and died October 18, 1957 in Massachusetts, and is buried in N. Weymouth, MA.
William Irvine was expelled from leadership of the workers in 1914. Further details will be given later in this book.
In 1904: 42 workers entered the work; 25 brothers and 17 sisters. Jack Carroll entered the work on February 16, 1904. Exact dates others entered the work is unknown at this time.
1904: SECOND GROUP OF (6) WORKERS LEAVE FOR AMERICA: According to the Ellis Island records, departing from Londonderry on May 6, 1904, on the Ship S. S. Furnessia, and arriving in New York on May 16, 1904 were:
Mary Carroll (age 24 yrs, Irish) (May) (Passenger No. 11)
Sarah Rogers (age yrs 30, Irish) (Passenger No. 12)
Also on the same ship were these four (4) brother workers:
John Carroll (age 25, Irish; brother to May Carroll; called Jack) (Passenger No. 1)
Hugh Mathews (age 26 yrs, Irish) (Passenger No. 2)
William Clelland (age 26 yrs, Scotch-Wm Irvine's cousin) (Passenger No. 3)
Charles Glenn (age 27 yrs, Scotch). (Passenger No. 4)
(Sources: Secret Sect by Doug Parker, page 32; also Notes on Geo. Walker's Early Days in America-1979 and Ellis Island Furnessia Ship Manifest)
1904: THIRD GROUP OF (8) WORKERS LEAVE FOR AMERICA: According to the Ellis Island records, departing from Liverpool, England on November, 1904, on the Ship S. S. Oceanic, and arriving in New York on December 8, 1904 were:
John Jackson, age 24 yrs, Single, Irish; Residence: Waltham (Jack)
James Jardine, age 20 yrs, Single, Scotch, Residence: Waltham
Francis Scott, age 20 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Waltham (Frank)
William Weir, age 22 yrs, Single, Scotch; Residence: Chippenham
David Lynes, age 26 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Chippenham (Dave Lyness)
Bella Cooke, age 23 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Norfolk
Lizzie M. Coles, age 26 yrs, Single, Irish; Residence: Norfolk (aka Lily, Elizabeth and Mary)
Emma Gill, age 33 yrs, Single, Irish, Residence: Meath
(Source:Ellis Island Ship Oceanic Manifest)
"Again in December, 1904, a group including Jack Jackson, Willie Weir, Dave Linus (sic) and others came." (From Miltown Convention Story)
"It is a good while ago now that one morning towards the end of November, 1904, my companion and I were in the east of England and were preaching there...and a knock came on the door and a telegram came for me, "Be in Liverpool Tuesday and sail for New York Saturday. That was short notice....well we landed in New York on the 9th of December." (Jack Jackson at Freedom, NY Convention Notes November (or August?) 14, 1960)
"I crossed in the autumn of 1904 with J. Jackson, Wm. Weir, Dave Lyness, Frank Scott and Emma Gill, Lizzie Coles and another sister whose name doesn't come to me just now." (February 16, 1966 Letter by James Jardine to Dear Sister Mollie)
Ellis Island records show additional groups of workers came to America in 1905 and 1908, and there are likely many others who arrived. On August 14, 1905: Willie Jamieson, John Paterson, Jim McLeod, Aggie Hutchison arrived on the ship Numidian. And on September 4, 1908, nine (9) more workers arrived on the ship Cedric.
1904: THE FIRST FOUR WORKERS TO GO TO CANADA - According to "Arrival of Early Workers in North America", four brother workers arrived in Montreal on August 13, 1904. They were Harry Oliver, Tom Craig, John Doak and George Buttimer. Their destination was Souris, Manitoba.
1904, JULY: THE FIRST TWO WORKERS TO GO TO AUSTRALIA: John Hardy/Hardie and Sandy Alexander arrived on July 24, 1904, in Melbourne, New South Wales on the ship Medic, according to an Account titled "John Hardie - Concerning His Arrival in Australia and New Zealand." According to The Secret Sect, "Similar hostility and opposition in other districts motivated preachers to travel overseas, one being John Hardie, whose wooden mission hall was burned down by Roman Catholics in Kilkenny. He was said to have used the money awarded by the court for damages to pay his passage to Australia, instead of putting it into the common purse. He pioneered the movement in New South Wales." (Secret Sect by Doug & Helen Parker, p. 31)
NEW SOUTH WALES: John Hardie and Sandy Alexander were the pioneering workers to NSW: "Around 1904-05, John Hardie and another worker* went to Australia. They lived in a tent where they used one half of the tent for their living quarters and the other half for meetings. One day a big storm came and totally ripped their tent to shreds. They then spread newspapers on the ground and slept on them. One day the elder worker (John Hardie) woke to find his companion gone with all their money. He never knew where his companion went." (From: The First Two Workers To Go To Australia Account)
*Sandy Alexander was the other worker, according to George Beattie (Secret
Sect p. 37, Note 28). Sandy is listed on the 1905 Workers List. John Hardie
became the Overseer of New South Wales, and later in the 1950's after Bill Carroll
died, of all Australasia. He died April 26, 1961.
According to Doug Parker, John Hardie's trip to Australia was financed by money acquired in a court settlement for arson in the burning of his wooden hall used for meetings. "Similar hostility and opposition in other districts motivated preachers to travel overseas, one being John Hardie, whose wooden mission hall was burned down by Roman Catholics in Kilkenny. He was said to have used the money awarded by the court for damages to pay his passage to Australia, instead of putting it into the common purse. He pioneered the movement in New South Wales." (Secret Sect by Doug & Helen Parker, p. 31)
William Irvine wrote: “In September 1905, I sailed for South Africa with seventeen brothers and sisters, half for Australia and New Zealand" (Letter to Dunbars, October 13, 1920.) Eight of the eighteen workers disembarked from the ship in South Africa--four brothers and four sisters. (Wm Irvine was not one of them), and the rest continued on to various ports in Australia. The remaining female "missionaries" aboard were: Miss Falkiner (age 33), F. Hodgins (age 26), M. McDougal (age 31), Annie Smith (age 28), Miss F. Carroll (age 24); the male "missionaries" aboard were Wm Irvine (age 42), J. Fraser (age 27), J. Hodgins (age 29), J. Williamson (age 32), and A. Hutchison (age 28)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: "In 1907 he (Sam Jones) was moved to come to Australia and on 27th December, 1907, he and a younger companion, Bob Bashford, departed from London and sailed to Australia on the "Orontes". They arrived in Melbourne in February 1908, in time to attend in March the FIRST convention held on Australian soil at Northcote, a suburb of Melbourne (Victoria). On 8th April, 1908, Sam Jones and Bob Bashford, together with Tom Turner and Syd Maynard, sailed from Melbourne for Western Australia. It was pioneering days for the gospel there and a very difficult time for them all. Syd had professed there a couple of years earlier when Tom and his companion and two sister workers first came from Ireland..." (The Bethel Mission) Bob Bashford decided he could not continue in the work, and left, hoping to get back to Ireland. The two sisters workers were identified in the following account. "In 1906, on the 4th January, James McCreigh, Laura Faulkner, Thomas Turner and Aggie Hughes arrived in Western Australia on the ship Oraya." (John Hardie - Concerning his Arrival in Australia and New Zealand - Revised 2/20/82)
VICTORIA: "... Archie (Murray) who was one of the first New Zealanders to go into the work in 1907 and who accompanied Adam (Hutchison), Willie Hughes and Charlie Dubman from New Zealand to Victoria in March that year where these four were effectively the pioneers to that state." John Hardie and Sandy Alexander had tried it for a short time in 1904, but with no response." (Source: The Bethel Mission). It would seem that Adam Hutchinson was responsible both there and in South Australia until the McClungs came. Wilson McClung was overseer in Victoria from 1909 to 1913, at which point he and Mrs. McClung went to New Zealand, where he was overseer until his death. In 1913, Bill Carroll and his wife, Maggie went to Victoria, Australia, possibly with some other workers, where Bill became the Overseer. (So Victoria had two married overseers in succession.) "The Northcote Convention took place in Victoria in 1908, being the FIRST EVER in Australia. Twenty six workers representing four Australian states and some from New Zealand attended." (Source: John Hardie - Concerning his Arrival in Australia and New Zealand - Revised 2/20/82)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA and TASMANIA: "Annie Smith and Fanny Carroll came from New Zealand and went with the FIRST workers over TO TASMANIA. Adam Hutchinson and Jim McCreigh went to South Australia, being pioneers in that state." (John Hardie - Concerning his Arrival in Australia and New Zealand - Revised 2/20/82)
QUEENSLAND: "Polly Hodgins and Lizzie Sargeant arrived in Brisbane on the 2nd January 1907 per ship ORTONA, having sailed from the Port of London on the 16th November 1906. They were responsible for Queensland's first converts who professed some time in 1907...It is recorded that John Hardie visited Queensland late in 1907 and baptised Queensland's first fruits in the Gospel in the creek at Enoggera, near Hornibrooks...John Sullivan returned to Queensland from (1908) Northcote Convention, bringing with him, Charlie Morgan from New Zealand as his companion." (John Hardie - Concerning his Arrival in Australia and New Zealand - Revised 2/20/82)
In 1905, 74 workers entered the work; 43 brothers and 31 sisters.
In 1905, sixty more workers left for countries abroad. Fannie
Carroll said at Santee Convention in California in 1964: "Then
in 1905 many workers, over sixty of them, left for overseas. I would like
to see over sixty leaving California and even going overseas for the Gospel’s
sake because of what it has meant in this country, in Canada, South Africa,
Australia, New Zealand and other places."
Eldon Tenniswood said at the 1977 Family Counseling Meeting held at Santee, California: "In 1905, 52 young men and women saw the need of a perishing world and sailed from Great Britain to carry the gospel to South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the USA. God laid it upon their hearts to give their lives for the Kingdom and to carry this message into the world. In 1903, the first workers came to America. A few more came in 1904. They gave their lives. The brethren in England, Ireland and Scotland knew they had to have their needs met, and the fares to go to their respective fields. Some of those people had real nice homes; they sold their nice fancy furniture, some of their heirlooms which had been handed down and were valuable, and gave this to the Kingdom for the work of God to progress. With their whole heart, they made an investment - both the workers and the friends. Now when I look into different countries and see God's people and this great fellowship, how it has prospered, I realize it is because of self-denial and sacrifice, on the part of God's servants and on the part of God's people.
"When in Italy, I mentioned how much we owe to our brethren in the Old Country for sending servants to us and about the sacrifices of God's people that helped the servants come with the Gospel. After the meeting, a sister worker about my age told me her parents were some who sold their heirlooms and furniture and got by with cheaper things in the home so they could help in the Kingdom. When she finished school and obtained a nice job, she told her mother, 'I would like to get some nice furniture for our home.' You would know how the daughter felt. The mother said, 'We used to have very nice furniture, but we sold it to help in the Kingdom, and now we don't care for that anymore, as we would like to continue helping in the gospel work.' Then she told the girl about selling their valuables to help those going abroad. Do you see what the influence did to help that girl go in the work? It is good to have a nice home and nice furniture, but could those have invested their lives and their possessions in any better way than they did in those Early Days, when God's servants came to us."
SOUTH AFRICA: In 1905, the FIRST eight workers went to pioneer the work in South Africa. Passenger List for S.S. Geelong departing from London on August 25, 1905 for Cape Town, South Africa shows the following eight "missionaries": Joseph Kerr (age 24), Wilson Reid (age 24), J. Cavanagh (John) (age 27), A. Pierce (Alex) (age 29), Mary Moodie (age 38), Barbara Baxter (age 24), L. Reid (Lilly) (age 26), and M. Skerritt (Martha)(age 22).
CANADA: In 1905, seventeen workers arrived (eleven brother workers and six sister workers) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with destinations given as U.S.A., Toronto and Sidney, Manitoba. They were Ed. Armstrong, James Boyd, Ralph Bullick, Hugh Doak, William Jackson, Robert Johnston, Thomas Lyness, Tom Patterson, Tom Purves, Noble Stinson, R.D. (Dick) Watchorn; and Martha Cooper, Dora Holland, Annie Irwin, Martha (Mattie) McGivern, Mabel Reid and Annie Skerritt.
NEW ZEALAND: Barely two months after John Hardie and Sandy Alexander arrived in Australia, "John left Melbourne, and went to Wellington in New Zealand, to visit an old friend, Tom Hastings and wife, who had gone out to New Zealand from Ireland in 1901. John arrived in Wellington on the 25th September 1904, according to Charlie Hastings, the son of Tom... After some months John returned to Melbourne and Sandy with him. During John Hardie's first stay in New Zealand, it appears he held some meetings in Wellington, staying with Tom Hastings and family." Tom Hastings was from Rathmolyon, Ireland, and was the brother of Margaret (Hastings) Carroll married to William (Bill) Carroll. According to an article titled "In Memory of Our Dear Friends Who Lived in Hutt Valley 1901-2006":
"Mr. Tom & Mrs. Emily Hastings...immigrated from Ireland, via Sydney, to N.Z. in 1901, to have an open home for when the workers arrived. Tom, a builder by trade, built a home in High St Petone. There they waited three years, when in 1904 John Hardie who knew the Hastings in Ireland, arrived there after being three months in Melbourne. He had a few meetings in Alicetown, Lower Hutt, before he returned to Australia…The Hastings lived in Petone until 1910 when they moved north to Taihape, then in 1914 to the Te Awamutu district and in 1936, purchased a farm in Otorohanga. They had two daughters, Lillian (d. 1970) married Carl Nordstrom, North Auckland and Winnie (d. 2006-age 99 yrs) married Tom Giltrap (d. 1982) of Wellington and remained on the farm, and one son Charlie (d. 1993) of Hamilton, married Kathrine Gunson Sth Auck (d. 1987). Tom and Winnie, a very knowledgeable lady, retired to Te Awamutu in 1976, cared for by their two daughters, Viva and Gladys. Others of the family are, Hilda (Green), Harold (both Otorohanga), and Wilfred (Karapiro)."
1905, SEPTEMBER: EIGHTEEN WORKERS ARRIVE IN AUSTRALIA. William Irvine wrote: “In September 1905, I sailed for South Africa with seventeen brothers and sisters, half for Australia and New Zealand" (Letter to Dunbars, October 13, 1920.) The 18 workers departing from London on August 25, 1905, aboard the S.S. Geelong. Eight workers disembarked Cape Town, South Africa--four brothers and four sisters. (Wm Irvine was not one of them), and the rest continued on to various ports in Australia. The remaining female "missionaries" aboard were: Miss Falkiner (Laura)(age 33), F. Hodgins (Frances)(age 26), M. McDougal (Maggie)(age 31), Annie Smith (age 28), Miss F. Carroll (Fannie)(age 24); the male "missionaries" aboard were Wm Irvine (age 42), J. Fraser (John)(age 27), J. Hodgins (Jim)(age 29), J. Williamson (Joe)(age 32), and A. Hutchison (Adam)(age 28). All of these went on to New Zealand in October, except for Laura Falkiner and it not included in any account where Wm Irvine went.
At Santee, California Convention in 1964, Fannie Carroll said,“…when I left for New Zealand in 1905…we crossed to England in four and a half hours (from Ireland). Then I met the other workers who were going with me. We arrived in London the next morning and got on the ship, and we sailed that afternoon. When I saw that big old gangplank being taken down something happened. I had kept up while I was in my home for the sake of my mother and sisters, but when the gangplank came down I went around the other side of the ship to be by myself. There were eight workers going to South Africa at this time. One of the older ones, Mary Moody, came around to comfort me. I wanted to be alone, but I appreciated her kindness to me. It was three weeks’ journey from London to Cape Town, and eight workers got off there.”
"The first two workers, who came to New Zealand, were: John Hardie and Sandy Alexander; then John Hardie went to Australia, where he remained. In 1905, eight (8) workers came to N.Z. from the homeland, (Great Britain). In 1906, the missions were worked. John Frazer and Jimmy Hodgins went to the Auckland Province and worked a mission at Pukekohe, about 40 professed. Among them were Teenie Walker, Alice Begbie, Percy Hartland and many others. Maggie McDougal and Frances Hodgins had quite a few to profess in Wellington, among them was Jim McCleod. Adam Hutchinson and Joe Williamson went to the Canterbury province the same year-1906 and worked a big mission at Oxford, a few miles out of Christchurch. Then Annie Smith and Fanny Carroll worked in the Otago province, started a mission at Berwick, 30 miles from Dunedin." (First Workers in New Zealand)
Tom, Warren and Margaret Hastings were two brothers and a sister who grew up in Rathmolyon, Ireland, and ventured far apart. Tom was born in 1872; Warren in 1873 and Margaret in 1875, and all were baptized in the Church of Ireland. In 1901, Margaret Hastings married Bill Carroll in the Church of Ireland, [View Wedding Photo] and they pioneered the work in Victoria, Australia. Tom Hastings and his family emigrated to New Zealand in either 1901 or 1904, where they had the THE FIRST OPEN HOME. Warren, age 26, was one of the young men who went on the famous 1899 Bicycle Trip to Scotland. Instead of going in the work permanently, he opted to marry Elizabeth Winter around 1900, had four children, remained in Ireland and died in 1917, aged 44. He's is buried in the Church of Ireland graveyard in Rathmolyon, where the Author personally viewed his grave in August, 2004.
"Charlie Hastings father, Tom Hastings, had been one of the very early members. Charlie told me that one of the workers had approached his father to enquire about the early days. Apparently his father's reply was 'Leave it alone; dozens became discouraged and left the meetings, and as many workers as friends chucked it in. You don't want to record that sort of thing, leave it alone.'" [12/6/93 Letter by Ian Carlton of Hamilton NZ to Mr. & Mrs. D. Lewis]
The FIRST convention in New Zealand was held in Harper Street, Sydenham, Christchurch. Seventy people were there. Jack Craig went out to preach from the first convention ever held in New Zealand, at Christchurch, where 70 people attended. "The next preacher who came along was H. McNeary (Harry)."
Wilson and Anne McClung, a married worker pair from Ireland who went in the work in 1903, and then went to Australia at the end of 1908, where they preached for awhile. Later they moved to New Zealand where he became the Overseer and remained so until his death. He died in Auckland, New Zealand in 1944; was survived by Anne, who died in 1945.
1904: SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER - FIRST CROCKNACRIEVE CONVENTION was held in Ballinamallard, County Fermanagh, Ireland (about 4 miles Northeast of Enniskillen, N. Ire.) and lasted around a month. Crocknacrieve ("the hill of the branched tree") along with 250 acres, was purchased from Sir Edward Archdale for £2000 in 1901 by John James and Sara West, the year they were married. All the twelve West children were born at Crocknacrieve House. John West owned a sawmill located in Ballinamallard
1921, John and Sara West moved to Rossahilly, a larger place not far
away. They bought Rossahilly from the same man who sold them Crocknacrieve, Sir Edward M. Archdale. And the Wests sold Crocknacrieve to Simon Christopher and Penelope "Penny" (Barton) Loane, parents of the late
Warren Loane. Penny (Barton) Loane, was an early worker, and one of the first workers to go to Switzerland. The Impartial Reporter stated in their July 9, 1914, issue regarding the Crocknacrieve convention, that "Two preachers, one of whom is Miss Barton, Pettigo, have lately returned from North Italy and Switzerland.”
The earliest building erected at Crocknacrieve is the five bay portion on the east side of the front, dating from circa 1740. The extensive building plan included the main block (three bays of two stories over a basement) and a courtyard comprising stables, loft, coach house, harness room, and two small dwelling houses. Under the coach house block, and on a different level to the yard, there was a range of outhouses including piggeries with vaulted ceilings. In 1817 another building was erected at Crocknacrieve House, and in the 1860’s the Archdales (aka Archdall) added a new wing raising the roof above the kitchens. Click Here to view photos. Click Here to view all previous owners of Crocknacrieve.
"Although documentary evidence is scarce, it is thought that a Patrick Hurst once lived there, because after his death aged 69 on 10 June 1797, the Reverend Alexander Hurst, son of John Hurst, a merchant from Ballinamallard, sold the house to John Johnston who became Clerk of the Crown for Northwest Ulster. Born in 1775, he married Mary Jane Ovenden, daughter of Dr. Charles Ovenden of Enniskillen. He died in 1831, and in 1834 his widow married Henry Mervyn Richardson, great grandparents of the present owner, Warren Loane. Mr. & Mrs. Richardson lived at Crocknacrieve until 1842, at which time they inherited Rossfad and went to live there. Mrs. Richardson’s brother, the Reverend Thomas Ovenden, also lived at Crocknacrieve when he became Rector of Magheracross in 1838. He died suddenly in 1846. After 1846 Crocknacrieve was leased to various people...until it was sold by Henry Richardson to his first cousin, Nicholas Archdale in the late 1850’s." And then, John West purchased Crocknacrieve from Edward Mervyn Archdale, son of Nicholas Archdale, in 1901. (From: Ballinamallard--A Place of Importance, Ballinamallard Historical Society, 2004)
The following narrative is based on a talk Harry West, son of William West and nephew of John West, gave to the Historical Society in 1996, as reported by Mervyn Dane:
“Although my Uncle John [West] was a bit of a rebel and refused to go to school, he took steps to educate himself and became quite successful at buying farms and property. He made friends with Nicholas Archdale, one of the Archdales of Castle Archdale, who owned the large house and lands of Crocknacrieve, and he eventually bought the farm for very little money.
"During the First World War when timber was in urgent demand he made a large amount of money by selling trees from the extensive woodlands of Crocknacrieve. He also became a follower of the famous preacher, Edward Cooney, and in the years that followed large conventions attended by thousands of worshippers were held annually at Crocknacrieve. At this time Harry West, still in his boyhood, helped the men to round up the sheep at Mullaghmeen and they told him that the sheep were going to be slaughtered to feed the people at Crocknacrieve convention.”
“In addition to Crocknacrieve, John West bought and sold a number of large farms in different parts of County Fermanagh. One of these was Jamestown House at Magheracross, which he sold to my father, William. As well as farming at Mullaghmeen, my father was Secretary of Fermanagh County Council. He loved Jamestown, or thought he did, and prepared to take up residence there. He had the family, livestock and machinery all moved there from Mullaghmeen. Unfortunately for him, on the last day going home from his office in Enniskillen, he called in at Mullaghmeen. He went into the deserted kitchen and looked around. Being a sentimental sort of person, a feeling gripped him and he changed his mind and did not go to Jamestown. He immediately ordered his wife and family and all the livestock and machinery back to Mullaghmeen.”
“My father then sold Jamestown to a farmer called Strain from Boyle, County Roscommon, going security for him at the bank. Strain farmed it for a short time, but did not have the finance to run it properly. My father took the farm back again and handed it over to me. Then a sudden challenge was presented to me at a young age. While I was in my last year at Portora my father died. I was the eldest of the family of five girls which meant that I had to take responsibility. My father had wanted to see the farm well run above all else and see it as a model farm in the area.” A few years later Harry West became closely involved with the development of the Ulster Farmer’s Union...."
John Long wrote: "John West, Crocknacrieve, Ballinamallard, near Enniskillen, gave his premises for a Convention that year. William Irvine had newly returned from the United States; and was in good form. The weather was very fine during the whole month; which suited the camps set up for the saints and workers to sleep in.
"Many of the workers were troubled with a skin disease. Irvine got them separated and treated according to the need of the case and delt (sic) very mercifully with them. Cleanliness was one of the subjects delt (sic) with and emphasized. A great effort was made at every conference to put up both workers and friends free of charge; and all who had learned trades such as bakers, and butchers; their services were utilized on the occasion. Full sanitary arrangements were made beforehand; there were no appeals for money; and no public collections; the strength and fruits of the teaching produced the necessary money, which was given freely to defray the expenses, which amounted to nearly fifteen hundred pounds; including the passages of those who went foreign.
"Perhaps no movement of modern days gave so much preeminence to reading the Bible; and circulating them; and every worker was prone to spend much time in private prayer. Flirting or courting was not allowed; and the flesh or selfish life strongly condemned. Marriage was not forbidden; yet the unmarried life was commended as the freest for workers. The necessity of keeping prophet's chambers and entertaining strangers was strongly set forth. At the close of the conference, every worker threw his or her money into one common purse; then it was equally divided on departing to the varied districts and fields of labour. At that convention Irvine warned the workers of speaking against men of God, such as J. G. Govan; it would have been much better and wiser for the testimony if that advice had been attended to, but Satan has ever used this tactic to drive men into extremes and by so doing spoil their testimony; and God can and does set aside one movement, and raises up another. No two Revivals are the same, but it’s the same Word of God, and the same Holy Spirit, and the same precious Blood, applied by faith to the soul that gives men and women the experience of peace and that produces the revivals of His word and work; this revival chapter may vary in details from the former.
"Edward Cooney, who was in great form, tested the meetings every night; when the unsaved came in; and a gospel effort was made to win them. Those efforts were very fruitful, for upwards of one hundred-some decided for Christ; and about the same number were baptized by immersion in a river nearby. In all the meetings where doctrines were discoursed, I took a prominent part; and Irvine often appealed to me for my opinion on various points. It was very remarkable that Irvine was very free from boasting or talking about his own works experiences or testimony; he took a humble attitude, and was not easy pleased or puffed up with success." (From: John Long's Journal)
Two tents were placed on the lawn of the farm--one used for dining, and the
other for meetings. Separate sleeping accommodations were provided for
men and women, as well as a cookhouse. Baptisms were frequently held in
ponds by total immersion. "The dress of the females being simple---their
hair being brushed straight up from their foreheads, whilst the back hair was
simply tied in a knot." Men and women were separated on different
sides of the tent. Apparently, communion wasn't served at this convention
(Impartial Reporter, October
27, 1904). The preachers spoke against paid clergymen, church buildings
and collection plates. Doug Parker stated: “Conventions
at Enniskillen were used both to recruit and to further indoctrinate converts
and from there between seventy and one hundred preachers were sent forth annually
after 1903.” (Secret Sect by Doug Parker, p 24)
At a Denver, Colorado Convention: "Hugh Breen gave his testimony - and it was truly an inspiration to all. He is from Ireland and a lot of Workers came out of Ireland. He said one reason was that they prayed themselves into the ministry. He remembers at a convention, you could walk out into the field and see people kneeling all over--hardly any place left--and one man walking down a path praying while he walked! Hugh was the oldest son in the family, and the father was dead, and the mother depended upon Hugh--but Hugh had decided to go into the ministry. The day he had to leave, his mother cried and said she would have to sell the farm if he left, and he went in and lay on his bed and wept. He is over 80 years old now! He heard Truth in 1902." (From “Some of the Thoughts from the Denver Convention”--no date)
From the Impartial Reporter: "One purpose of the convention was to educate the 'young workers,' many of whom may be diamonds, but they are diamonds in the rough state. They are full of zeal, they lead good lives, they exhort others to be reconciled to God...They have many good points, but for all that they are rough diamonds, and for the most part, uneducated, and of the servant or small farmer or artizan class, who have to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. Therefore, daily toil is more in their line than education." (October 13, 1904 Impartial Reporter).
1904 – NOVEMBER - John Long wrote "…next day I walked six miles looking for work. I found none but a woman gave me one shilling which did one another day and night. On hearing that some Go Preachers were leaving Liverpool to go to America, I walked into the city and saw them off; one of them gave me ten shillings, and the present of a bicycle; another gave me half a crown; and looking thin in appearance, a sister gave me a bottle of Bovil(??). (John Long's Journal, Nov. 1904)
1904: IRVINE WEIR went alone to California from New York in 1904. He had no companion and stayed with a newly married couple, Clyde and Grace Brownlee, who were thinking of becoming missionaries in China. Clyde was the father of Harry Brownlee who later went in the work in 1934. For awhile, Clyde helped him in preaching. "Irvine Weir was the first worker to come to California in 1904. He met Mr. and Mrs. Brownlee in December, 1904 in Long Beach. Mr. Brownlee tried to help Irvine with the gospel work for awhile, but as the family increased, he was advised to establish a home and support his family." (The Early Days in California, 1904 by Mrs. Alex McPhail)
In Ireland and Scotland, the workers were often given names and addresses of family members to contact of converts who had moved to America. It is interesting that a C. Brownlee of 71 Baranton St., Stirling, wrote the Editor of the Impartial Reporter, defending Wm. Irvine and Edward Cooney and their work. This letter was reprinted in their November 3, 1904 issue on page 8. The Brownlees in California who Irvine Weir visited in December, 1904 may have been relatives of C. Brownlee.
Irvine Weir then persuaded a man named Walter Slater, who had listened to his preaching, into accompanying him on some missions. Willie Jamieson joined them in 1905. "There was a tent put up in Paso Robles in the fall of 1905. Willie landed in California, August 22, 1905, and Irvine Weir, being impatient to get started with a tent he had gotten, invited Walter Slater to join him...so when Walter was asked, rather suddenly by Irvine Weir to join him in this tent ministry, he was too impressed with all this to refuse. So he was with Irvine and a Mr. Matthew, a false prophet, having tent meetings in the San Luis Obispo, and the Morro Bay area. Willie tracked him down." (When the Gospel Came to the Weibe Family By Elma Wiebe Milton)
1905: FIRST BROTHER WORKER to go in the work in America: Walter Slater entered the work in California in 1905 and he may have been the first brother worker to go in the work in America. He was definitely the first American to enter the work on the west coast, but some may have started in the work in the East before that. "Walter always said he got saved after he went in the work." (When the Gospel Came to the Weibe Family By Elma Wiebe Milton)
1905: WILLIE, ELIZABETH and VIOLET JAMIESON PROFESS & GO IN THE WORK. William Rankin Jamieson was born in Scotland and made his choice January 2, 1905, in his first meeting. He was 24 years old. Later that month, he entered the ministry. Sydney Holt wrote:
"On Saturday Robert took me about 15 minutes ride to just outside the town of Duns where we saw the home where Uncle Willie Jamieson was raised and the hills where his dad shepherded sheep. Drove down the road Uncle Willie walked down after he said good-by to his parents who weren't in agreement with his going forth to preach. Also saw the spot where he sat down and looked back wondering if he were making the right choice! Then the train depot (not in use now) in Duns where he caught the train...We then drove to Chirnside where Uncle Willie worked for a butcher in his shop. Saw the very hall in Reston where Uncle Willie first heard the truth at a, special meeting! In Chirnside we saw the farm where the first convention was held (1911) in this part of Scotland. Across the road is a very old church (still in use) with a large cemetery with grave markers dated in the 1600 and 1700's. Five workers are buried here (saw John Martin, Jean Gibson and Sarah Skerrit's graves)." ( Sydney Holt's May 1, 1985 Letter to Fellowlaborers and Friends)
Elizabeth Jamieson, sister of Willie said: "After Willie heard and accepted the Gospel (in his first meeting), he asked the worker who held that meeting, if there would ever be an opportunity for him to go into this ministry? This worker asked him, 'How soon could you be ready?' 'In two weeks,' replied Willie. It was a little longer than this before he went, but during this time of waiting, he came to Edinburgh, where my older sister, Violet, and I (Elizabeth) were working. He told us about the Truth he had found every day for a whole week. One morning, by my bedside, I yielded my heart to God, and at the same time, offered my life for God's great Harvest Field. My sister, Violet, went out then in the Work in July or August, 1905, and I followed on the 27th of October. I was nineteen, my sister older...It hurt Father and Mother to have Willie go, and then Violet, but it nearly broke their hearts when I left. Tears were streaming down their faces, and mine. They were Presbyterians. Father an Elder for as long as I could remember...I got a letter just then from Willie, offering me a place in the Work in California...So I came then, to California, at the age of twenty. I had been in the Work less than a year. Florence Langworthy (age twenty-two) became my companion." (From: Auntie Elizabeth's Reminiscences - 1969 - Hayward, CA).
The Ellis Island records shows that a William Jamieson, Male, Scotch, Single, 25 years old, Residence Chirnside, arrived in New York on August 14, 1905 aboard the Ship Numidian. Click Here to View: Ellis Island Passenger Record for Willie Jamieson. In the fall of 1905, Willie went straight to California from New York. Willie Jamieson arrived in California, August 22, 1905. He joined Irvine Weir, who had arrived there in 1904. Their first mission was in San Luis Obispo. "Willie Jamieson went straight to California from New York. Irvin Weir was in California and Walter Slater was with him. The Waites professed in the third meeting they were in at that time...Their home was the FIRST in California that was opened and which continued so. Through the efforts of the Waites, the Workers went to Paso Robles and set up a tent in November where Willie J. joined them." (Early Days in California, 1904-1910 by Mrs. Alex McPhail)
Willie, along with some other brother workers (Herman Beaber, Ernest Stanley, Cecil Barrett and Leo Stancliff) were all imprisoned at Santo Tomas, Philippines by the Japanese on January 6, 1942. Willie wrote an account of this time. They were finally liberated on February 23, 1945. Willie passed away October 11, 1974 and he is buried in Pacific Crest Cemetery, Redondo Beach, California.
1906, SEPTEMBER: Elizabeth Jamieson went into the work October 27, 1905 and at the invitation of her brother, Willie Jamieson, came to California in September 1906. He had a companion waiting for her, Florence Langworthy, one of Irvine Weir's converts. "Later, after some experience in this work in Scotland, I became ill. I had then, two offers: one from my favorite brother, to come and housekeep for him. Ordinarily, I would have liked nothing better, but I got a letter just then from Willie, offering me a place in the Work in California. He and Walter Slater were at Pismo Beach, 'a grand training ground for preachers,' he wrote. Later in the letter, he said, 'we're living on bread and water.' I had to answer my brother's offer, then, and turn it down. He is now in Sydney, Australia. He has never professed... So I came then, to California, at the age of twenty. I had been in the Work less than a year. Florence Langworthy (age twenty-two) became my companion. We came to Paso Robles, and worked in that area." (From: Auntie Elizabeth's Reminiscences...Elizabeth Jamieson, 1969, Hayward, California)
1906: APRIL - SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE: William Irvine arrived in North America by way of Australia and New Zealand, having been away from home since September, 1905: "In September 1905, I sailed for South Africa with 17 brothers and sisters, half for Australia and New Zealand; landing in Frisco on April 4, 1906 in time for the Frisco earthquake." (October 13, 1920 Letter to Dunbars).
“On 20th April, 1906, I was in San Francisco when earthquake and fire destroyed the city - 10 square miles of it in 2 days. God’s mercy was shown in it happening at 5:10 A.M. when few were on the streets.” Irvine told about his earthquake experience at the 1907 Crocknacrieve convention:
"One evening, when speaking of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Mr. Irwin referred to the terrible earthquake which wrecked San Francisco. He had arrived, he said, in San Francisco one beautiful night at 10 o'clock, and having finished certain correspondence, retired to rest, when about 3 a.m. next morning he was suddenly awakened and found himself thrown out of bed. He hastily dressed and went out, and saw more than perhaps any one else there did. Why he saw more than any one else was because he had no person to be uneasy about--no property, no money and no interest to lose. It was a sight he could never forget. More real and vivid still had God portrayed to him the terrible doom of Sodom and Gomorrah." (Impartial Reporter: August 1, 1907)
1906 - FIRST CONVENTION IN AMERICA: After the earthquake, William Irvine began his “first trip down California Coast…Then took my way to Paso Robles," where he was a visitor at the FIRST Convention ever held in the United States located at Paso Robles California in April, 1906 on the ranch of James and Ina Hill. (October 13, 1920 Letter to Dunbars).
Three weeks after the Frisco earthquake, Irvine was in Los Angeles “where some Irish workers were and had some meetings.” (Dec. 5, 1944 Letter to Skerritt). It's highly possibly that the "Irish workers" were some of Irvine's workers. Irvine Weir and Willie Jamieson and possibly Jack Carroll and Elisabeth Jamieson were already in California at that time.
1906 - FIRST CONVENTION in CANADA held in Toronto. Workers List shows 63 workers; 38 men and 25 women, including one married couple, Matt and Letitia Wilson.
1907 - Pittsburgh and Chicago USA Conventions were held. Workers List shows a total of 80 workers; 49 men and 31 women, including one married couple, Matt & Letitia Wilson.
1907 SEPTEMBER 14: Ten (10) Workers departed from Liverpool, England and arrived in New York on the Ship Lusitania. They were Andrew Ramsey, age 20; Thomas George, age 26; John Mangham, age 21, English; James Alexander Rennie, age 22, Irish; Samuel Boyd, age 34, Scotch; C. G. Wilson, age 39; Minnie Pearson, age 22, Irish; Robina Smith, age 23, Scotch; Emma Wilson, age 24, Irish; and Sara Rogers returning to America, age 35, Irish. This is the Lusitania's maiden voyage: Liverpool-New York, September 7, 1907. Note: Recaptured the trans-Atlantic speed record for the British. She and her sister ship Mauretania retained the "Blue Ribbon" for a number of years. Torpedoed and sunk by German submarine near Old Head of Kinsale, May 7, 1915, with the loss of 1,198 lives, as she went down in 18 minutes after being hit, while on voyage from New York to England.
BEGINNING of the PENTECOSTAL MOVEMENT: “When I got to Los Angeles, the Holy and righteous people were mad with excitement, all saying the Spirit had shown them God was going to destroy Frisco because they were sinners. This was the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement when people could say anything in name of the Spirit.” (April 24, 1945 Letter to Laughlins)
There…I met the leader of a tent full of people of all sorts, in a large tent listening to all sorts of noise in the name of speaking and acting in the Spirit…” After hearing what I had to say, he asked me to come and give them the Truth as in Jesus, to guide them in their great and varied noise.” (Dec. 5, 1944 Letter to Skerritts)
Irvine preached for two weeks meetings in a tent “where they were strong on all the healing and Pentecostal holiness of that time, out of which the Pentecostal Movement began just as I left.” (October 13, 1920 Letter to Dunbars). I tried for 2 weeks to show them Jesus and Apostles were the guides to what the Spirit would say or do. It was like a man crying in the wilderness, and so we had it all over the world, showing the Spirit could not strive with men for they had become flesh, and could say and do anything in the name of the Spirit, with Aimee McPherson becoming the Jezebel or Queen of the Movement. (April 24, 1945 Letter to Laughlins)
… I gave them all the help I could, but only to find rebellion for two weeks, till the majority went down to the colored people in Azusa Street, where they were all claiming to have known that Frisco would be destroyed. They all got more foolish and extravagant, owing to the whites coming to them…and out of that came the Pentecostal Movement, which has been wide spread…” (Sept. 3, 1930 Letter to Edwards; June 18, 1945 and Dec. 5, 1944 Letters to Bob Skerritt).
Wm Irvine took credit for “producing” the Pentecostal Movement, and his Omega followers today proudly point out the part Irvine had in this movement. “It was the rejecting of my witness to Jesus in Los Angeles in 1906, that produced the Pentecostal Testimony; a wide door and a broad way for all who disregard Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life, by which men can know the Father and become sons and heirs…Then in Kilsyth, my home town Pentecost took root in 1908, in the Church of God; which was formed out of the work I did when at home for 2 years. Then, it spread to Ireland through some of these friends who knew Testimony people in Ireland.” (October 10, 1934 Letter to Grims)
History shows that a prominent Pentecostal Movement began in 1906 at 312 Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California, known as the Apostolic Faith Mission. Daily meetings were held there for three years, beginning in mid-April, 1906. The Azusa Street mission published a newspaper, The Apostolic Faith, which helped spread the Pentecostal revival. An internet keyword search for the word “ Azusa” will confirm the facts in Irvine’s letters, regarding to the beginning of the Pentecostal Movement.
The April 18, 1906 Los Angeles Daily Times carried an article titled: "WEIRD BABEL OF TONGUES." Following is a quote from an article on the internet, titled: William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival by Gary B. McGee Ph.D:
“To read the newspapers in 1906, one might have wondered about all the excitement in an old building on Azusa Street in the industrial part of the city. According to the Los Angeles Times, a bizarre new religious sect had started with people 'breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand.' Furthermore, 'Devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories, and work themselves into a state of mad excitement.'
“If that didn’t grab the reader’s attention, the article continued by saying that, 'Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshippers who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve-racking attitude of prayer and supplication.' To top it all off, they claimed to have received the 'gift of tongues,' and what’s more, 'comprehend the babel.'
“Little could the subscribers of the Times have guessed that in years to come, historians would say that the Azusa Street revival played a major role in the development of modern Pentecostalism—a Movement that changed the religious landscape and became the most vibrant force for world evangelization in the 20th century. Azusa Street became the most significant revival of the century in terms of global perspective.”
Read the rest of this article titled: William J. Seymour and the Azusa Street Revival By Gary B. McGee Ph.D., is professor of church history at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield, Missouri at:
Read additional articles by the Los Angeles Times
AIMEE SEMPLE MCPHERSON: In several of William Irvine’s letters, he expresses hostile, resentful feelings about a woman called Aimee Semple McPherson, known as “Sister Aimee.” He sometimes referred to her as “Queen Jezebel.” Little wonder that her actions irritated him immensely. While Irvine was having difficulty getting people to accept his new Omega Gospel “revelation,” Sister Aimee was enjoying phenomenal success in her revival meetings held at the same time. In the 1920s and 30s, she was probably the most famous woman in America.
“The early 20th century evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson, was a pioneer of women in religion. Having experienced a profound religious conversion at age 17, Aimee began preaching across the United States and later, the world. In 1918, she established her base in Los Angeles, California, where in 1923, the 5,300 seat Angelus Temple was dedicated and became the center of her revival, healing and benevolent ministries. She was the first woman to own and operate a Christian radio station. Her sermons were the first to incorporate the contemporary communications of that day into her preaching of the Gospel. From Angelus Temple she performed an extensive social ministry, providing hot meals for more than 1.5 million people during the Great Depression. She summarized her message into four major points known as "The Foursquare Gospel," and founded a denomination called The Foursquare Church.”
In 1915, at age 25, Sister Aimee took on an itinerant life of preaching and holding revival meetings. She became incredibly successful and was noted for her healing sessions. She was the first woman in history to preach a sermon over the radio. She was no stranger to innovation. She and her mother are thought to be the first two women to successfully travel alone across the continental United States in their automobile. Sister Aimee introduced jazz music into the church. She popularized the use of sermons illustrated and dramatized through stage plays. And she turned the religious establishment of her day upside down. The Foursquare Church article on the internet titled “Our Founder” openly broadcasts details about their beginnings with Aimee Semple McPherson:
She began evangelizing and holding tent revivals, first by traveling up and down the eastern part of the United States, then expanding to other parts of the country. She eventually held meetings in all parts of the world. People began coming in ever-increasing numbers to hear this remarkable lady evangelist. When not in a tent, she would need to find the largest auditorium in town in order to hold the record number of people that would come to her meetings. Often times she would have to share the time with whatever "event" was happening in the town. Like, on one occasion she met in a boxing ring, but had to hold her meetings before and after the boxing match. Once in San Diego, the National Guard had to be brought in to control the crowd of over 30,000 people. People would often stand in line and wait many hours for the next service to begin in order to be assured a seat.
With Aimee, all were called and all were welcomed. God was no respecter of persons and neither was Aimee. She evangelized when segregation was rampant in the South. Although she invited all to come to her meetings, often times she would go to the "black" parts of town and hold meetings after the main meeting was over. She broke down racial barriers such that one time at Angelus Temple, some Klu Klux Klan members were in attendance, but after the service, many of their hoods and robes were found thrown on the ground in nearby Echo Park. She is also credited with helping many of the Hispanic ministries in Los Angeles get started, and there was even a great Gypsy following, after the wife of a Gypsy chief and the chief himself had been healed in a Denver revival meeting. With Aimee Semple McPherson there was no color, ethnic, or status separation line.
While holding a revival meeting in San Francisco in April 1922, Aimee became the first woman to preach a sermon over the radio. Being intrigued with the possibilities of this medium, Aimee purchased a radio station herself, thus making her the first woman to possess a radio license and operate a station. Through the wonder of radio, Aimee's voice became the most recognizable voice around the world. Since there were not many stations in Los Angeles at its inception, one could walk down the street, especially on a Sunday morning, hear the entire message from one open window to another, get to the destination, and not miss a single word of the sermon.
Weary of constant traveling and having no place to raise a family, Aimee rejoiced when in 1918, God called her to Los Angeles. This was to be her base of operation. God told her He would build her a house in Los Angeles and He did--one for her family and one for His people. For several years she continued to travel and raise money for the building of Angelus Temple and on January 1, 1923, Angelus Temple was dedicated. The church held 5,300 people and was filled to capacity three times each day, seven days a week. In the beginning, Aimee preached every service. It became the spiritual home for thousands of her followers and a base for her evangelistic ministry. What grew out of a desire to have a base of operation to preach the Gospel, quickly evolved into a church organization--supporting and sending out missionaries, providing commissary and community services that were more reliable than the city's own relief programs, as well as a full program of church ministries.http://www.foursquare.org/landing_pages/8,3.html
Wm Irvine wrote: Aimee Semple McPherson began their big show when I left California to come here ( Palestine) to read Revelation, and she was but the Queen of Delusionists, whom God was revealing in fooling the world. (June 21, 1945 Letter to Gordons).This was the very foundation of what is now known as the Pentecostal people, who have spread over the world…of which Aimeebecame the Queen-Jezebel…Aimee…in her Four Square Gospel… She was Queen of all of them… (Dec. 5, 1944 Letter to Skerritt)
Wm Irvine was annoyed when Sister Aimee visited Jerusalem in 1930, where he was living. He wrote: Aimee McPherson came to Jerusalem in April fooling around…They rejected and rebelled against Jesus in His simplicity and so formed the Pentecostal Movement and spread it over the earth. And since my coming here, Aimee has organized it as The Four-Square Gospel and The Temple as headquarters. ( September 3, 1930 Letter to Edwards)
Aimee Semple McPherson died September 26, 1944, age 53 years, in Oakland, California, evidently from an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. Leadership of her church passed to her son, Rolf McPherson. Irvine wrote of her sudden death: The death in California of the Queen of Women preachers as in Rev. 2, Jezebel -- Aimee Semple McPherson…(December 22, 1944 Letter to Pages)
From its beginning at Angelus Temple, The Foursquare Church has now grown to include more than 50,000 churches worldwide (2008). There are currently more than 5 million members in 147 countries around the globe. It presently ranks as one of the three or four most distinguished branches of Pentecostalism. http://www.foursquare.org/landing_pages/8,3.html
On the other hand, worldwide, there are estimated to be less than 100 followers of Wm Irvine’s Omega Message.
1906-07: WILSON ACCUSES WORKERS OF WHITE SLAVE TRAFFICING: In 1906, a very angry enemy began an attack against the "Tramp Preachers." His name was William Dennis Wilson of the Rookery Farm in Cretingham, Framlingham, East Suffolk, England. Mr. Wilson was a prosperous farmer in very good standing in England. “He is the largest farmer in the whole of Suffolk, and farms some thousands of acres. In addition, he is known as a great dealer in pigs, always having near 2,000 fattening for market…and as touching any matter agricultural Mr. Wilson is certainly the great authority in the countryside.” (July 13, 1917 Ideas).
The first article to surface so far regarding Mr. W. D. Wilson was printed in the June 9, 1906 Morning Leader. It briefly outlined the situation before the workers arrived in his community in 1903 up until 1906, when it was claimed “that some 36 persons, mostly girls, have been sent away by these people, ostensibly for missionary purposes to foreign countries, and that requests for information as to their whereabouts, and the conditions under which they are living, have been refused.” The readers were warned of the danger of some becoming victims of circumstances and were advised not to encourage nor assist the “No Sect missionaries.” Twenty-one ministers in the area signed the Appeal which was published. (June 12, 1906 Morning Leader).
In response to these newspaper articles, Lizzie Coles father gave an interview in which he was indignant at Wilson’s allegations. “Three years ago…Mr. Irwin, Mr. Cooney and five others held meetings at my mission hall under the auspices of the London City Mission.” This would be in 1898, and Lizzie went in the work in 1903. He provided evidence that his daughter was alive and well in America, and vouched for the integrity of Ed Cooney and Wm Irvine. (June 15, 1906 Morning Leader)
In the autumn of 1903, according to Mr. W. D. Wilson,“First of all came a pretty girl—Alice Pipe by name. She visited many houses in the district, and telling how she came as the forerunner of a marvelous mission, made eyes at the young men, and said sweet things to the young women with encouraging results. A hard-faced Scotsman followed in about nine months. He was William Irwin, the founder of the Tramps, and Chief Baptiser. Alice, with her sweet voice and wily ways did the converting, and William lured the victims to the nearest brook or horse pond and completed the business.” (June 9, 1906 Morning Leader).
While ordinarily such a mission would not have been very significant--that was not to be the case with THIS particular mission. It was destined to have far reaching results, largely due to the fact that five of William Dennis Wilson’s ____# children professed in the mission, and several of them went in the work shortly thereafter. (June 9, 1906 Morning Leader).
The following is from an article “Missing Converts” in the publication Ideas:
“They began preaching in the villages and very soon their enthusiasm and the novelty of their mission began to gather in converts. A large farmer’s two daughters, and one of his sons were converted by the "Cooneyites" and gave up their homes to join the sect. They simply disappeared, and the Cooneyite evangelists refused to give any information as to their whereabouts. At the same time other young people began to disappear from Suffolk homes, and their parents were frantic with grief.”
“The missing farmer...wild with grief and anger…commenced a bitter campaign against the Cooneyites...He covered the dead walls round Debenham, a small town, which became their stronghold, with posters setting forth his view of their conduct and morals. He followed them across the county to Sudbury in West Suffolk and roused a crowd of 3,000 people, who drove the "Go Preachers" out of the town. He gradually extended his campaign to other parts of England...He wrote letters to newspapers and printed handbills and posters which he exhibited wherever he could find a sympathiser.” (July 13, 1917 Ideas)
In October, 1907, Wilson held a meeting in the Enniskillen Townhall, Ireland, which was 200-300 miles from his home and not even on the same island, where Mr. Wilson was a total stranger to the towns people. It isn’t surprising that he chose Enniskillen, since the largest Go Preacher convention was held each year in July near Enniskillen on John West’s property, and it was also Ed Cooney’s home town. A number of "pilgrims" were present at the townhall meeting, including: John West, Wm West, Wm Carroll, Tom Betty, Ed Cooney, Bobby Graham, J. Jeffers, R. J. Lendrum, J. Humphreys and Miss Forde. At the meeting, Wilson read a portion of one of his pamphlets to the Enniskillen audience:
“The doctrines preached by these Missioners were circulated to and in fact did induce certain young girls to leave their parents homes and associate with these Missioners. After a short period spent in what was given out to be a preparation at a training home for future mission work, these girls have been shipped to China, South Africa, and other foreign parts, and in other cases fear to lose all means of communication with their children. It is gravely feared that these Missioners are employing their so-called mission as a cloak for recruiting the ranks of the ‘white slave’ traffic in foreign parts because the children whose absence has resulted from the preaching of these Missioners are many of them illiterate and totally unfitted for the mission work alleged by these Missioners to by their object and because these Missioners have chiefly required young females for their purpose the few males who have also followed these Missioners were employed, it is believed as a cloak to cover the underlying motive of the mission.” (October 3, 1907 Impartial Reporter)
At the Crocknacrieve convention in 1908, Wm. Irvine called on Mr. Wilson's son and two of his daughters (one by the name of Nellie Wilson) to speak. “Another daughter of Mr. Wilson then testified, and then her brother followed who said that he was glad that he had opposed his father, and that he meant to go on and follow God. He had seen his father write those reports which were published and there was no foundation of truth in them. He had forgiven his father for all he had said, and he hoped that he would call on the Lord and get forgiveness from Him also.” (July 30, 1908 p8, Impartial Reporter)
Go to Chapter 7
Go to Top of Page