Revised February 17, 2017
BEFORE Wm Irvine...
Change is in the Air
FIRST Baptisms and Rebaptisims
FIRST Sunday Meetings in Homes
WORKERS WHO LEFT FAITH MISSION WITH IRVINE: It has been said when Irvine left FM, he took with him several FM workers. It has also been claimed a split occurred between Faith Mission and Irvine and a number of disgruntled workers walked out with him. Some viewed Irvine’s movement as a spin-off, offshoot, breakaway or splinter group from the Faith Mission. In actual fact, however, there were NO Faith Mission Workers who left with Irvine.
The first Pilgrim to leave Faith Mission and later aligned with Wm. Irvine was John Kelly, who left AFTER Irvine did—not simultaneously or with Irvine. Faith Mission reported: "During the year, several have dropped out of our list of workers. Pilgrim Irvine has been working on independent lines chiefly in Ireland. Then quite recently Pilgrim Kelly has resigned, and also aligned himself with these independent workers" (BW, Sept., 1901).
The Official List of All Faith Mission Workers shows Wm. Irvine left in January, 1901 with the notation: “founded Cooneyites in S. Ireland,” and shows John Kelly left in September, 1901 with the notation: “joined Cooneyites.” A disclaimer by Faith Mission General Director Keith H. Percival states: "This list was compiled by Mr. John Eberstein, former president of Faith Mission, who through research has produced a list of the early workers in the Faith Mission; giving details of when they joined the Mission, the date they left, and giving notes as to what happened to them after that." In other words, this list wasn't maintained and updated over the years as the events took place, but rather it was compiled by someone looking back through the old FM records.
WHO WERE THE FAITH MISSION WORKERS WHO JOINED IRVINE? Altogether, there were six Faith Mission workers who joined Irvine's group over a span of two to six years. They were: John Kelly, Harry McNeary, May Carroll, Alexander "Sandy" Hinds, Joe Burns and Elizabeth (Pendreigh) Betty.
THESE LEFT FM AFTER IRVINE LEFT:
Left 1901 - 1 left 9 months AFTER Irvine; and joined him in 1901 or 1902 (Kelly)
Left 1900 - 1 left 1 month AFTER Irvine; and joined him in 1905 (Burns-4 years later)
Left 1903 - 1 left 3 years AFTER Irvine; and joined him in 1903 (May Carroll)
Left 1903 - 1 left 3 years AFTER Irvine; and joined him in 1903 (Hinds) not on the 1905 Workers List
THESE LEFT BEFORE IRVINE LEFT:
Left 1900 - 1 left 1 year BEFORE Irvine; and joined him in 1903 (McNeary-4 years later)
Left 1899 - 1 left 2 years BEFORE Irvine; Elizabeth Pendreigh married Tom Betty and they became a married worker pair in 1905.
As can be seen above, Irvine left alone.
ABOUT THOSE WHO LEFT FAITH MISSION:
Elizabeth (Pendreigh) Betty: Elizabeth entered the FM in 1892 and left Aug. 8, 1899. For her last two years at FM, she was working in the South of Ireland and Irvine was her Superintendent. She married Thomas (Tom) Andrew Betty in 1899. Tom was a Methodist farmer in Belnaleck, Co. Fermanagh when he heard the gospel. The 1905 Workers List does not show her name; however, her husband Tom is shown as entering the work in 1905. She is quoted in the Impartial Reporter newspaper in Jan. 15, 1903. The February 16, 1905 Impartial Reporter mentions Mr. & Mrs. Betty. They preached as a married worker couple. They had three sons named Moore, John and Thomas. They are shown on the 1921 Staffordshire Worker Convention photograph as Nos. 73, 101. He is buried in Arbory, Isle of Man, Ireland in 1939, aged 76. She died Jan. 9, 1952 in Welland, Ontario, Canada. She and Tom Betty both remained 2x2 workers all their lives.
A. Hinds (Alexander) is shown on the Official List of Faith Mission Workers as joining them on March 25, 1899 and leaving in 1903 “to become a Cooneyite.” His name is not listed on the 1905 Workers List. However, by 1907-09 he was preaching in Queensland, Australia and is shown on the 1912-13 QLD Workers List.
Alexander (Sandy) Hinds was born Feb. 27, 1870 in Co. Antrim, Ireland. He is mentioned in Pioneering Ways of the Gospel in Queensland. Sandy left the work and also the 2x2 sect sometime prior to 1914, when he married Julia English on Sept. 17, 1914 in QLD. In 1936, he and Irvine reconnected and he became an Omega Message follower. He died soon after on March 17, 1938. Irvine wrote: "Sandy Hinds died suddenly...he had suffered from high blood pressure...I had known him for 40 years. He was and has been very loyal since hearing the Message two years ago..." (letter to Edwards, April 23, 1938*).
John Kelly, Harry McNeary and Joe Burns were all workers with the Faith Mission. It is interesting that ALL three men left the 2x2 ministry in 1928, the same year Edward Cooney was expelled from the ministry.
Adam Hutchison's name has been erroneously linked to the Faith Mission due to the incorrect statement that he was formerly a "colporteur under The Faith Mission" printed in Review of Hymns for Hymns Old & New, 1951 Ed. However, Hutchison is not listed on the FM Staff of Worker Lists, and the Faith Mission didn't use colporteurs--the Methodist did. John Townend, General Director of the Faith Mission " ...checked our membership records from the Mission's inception in 1886 through to 1930 and cannot find any reference to an Adam Hutchison. I would therefore suggest that it is unlikely that he worked with the Faith Mission" (Email to Cherie Kropp dated Sept. 1, 2008*).
Robert R. and Jeanie Todd left Faith Mission in 1897, long before Irvine left; and they never joined Irvine’s movement. They maintained an association with Irvine and operated Todd’s Mission, until 1901 when Todd abandoned it.
Mary (May) Georgina Carroll was born on Sept. 2, 1879 at Newtown, Moynalty, Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland. She died in Alameda, California, U.S.A. 1961 aged 82, and is buried in Pinelawn section of Sunset View Mortuary and Cemetery in El Cerrito, CA (formerly Albany). See photo of grave. Findagrave. She professed in the 1897 Nenagh meeting held by Irvine. She joined FM in Oct., 1899 and left in 1903. Her sister Francis (Fanny), and two brothers, Bill and Jack were all in the work until death. Their sister Primrose was a worker for a few years, before marrying worker John Richard Perrott. Sometime after, the pair left the 2x2 sect altogether. Primrose was the only one of six siblings who didn't remain in the 2x2 sect.
THE OLDEST WORKERS LIST is titled List of the First Workers at July, 1905. So far, this is the earliest Workers List found. Numerous copies have turned up in various formats. In comparing the 12 different copies, the names of Wm. Irvine and John Kelly are consistently shown at the top as the first two workers. The dates they entered the work are left blank on nine lists; one list shows 1897 and another list shows 1899.
This List doesn't show those who started and dropped out before July, 1905. For instance, Willie Gill 's first companion was John Winter, also of Rathmolyon, but Winter's name does not appear on the 1905 Workers List. If someone entered the work sometime AFTER July, 1905, their names are not shown. For example, M/Mrs. Nat Dickson and M/Mrs. Frank Downie. There may be some other minor errors.
This 1905 Workers List supports for the view that John Kelly was the first Faith Mission worker to leave and join Wm. Irvine. If there had been any other Faith Mission workers to leave around the same time as Irvine, their names would most likely be listed at the top along with Irvine and Kelly’s names.
During the years 1899 to 1900, when the first four workers are shown on this list to have entered the work, Wm. Irvine was still listed on the Faith Mission Location of Workers' Lists as one of their workers, although often times there was no location or companion listed by his name.
Even though Turner, Hardie, Givan and Jackson sojourned with Todd’s Mission sometime during the years 1897 to 1901, they are also listed on the 1905 Workers List as being among Wm. Irvine’s workers at the same time. So it seems that the time Workers spent in Todd’s Mission was credited to them in Wm. Irvine’s movement. Some others were "grandfathered in." However, May Carroll’s time in Faith Mission wasn’t credited to her length of service.
BREAKING AWAY: Before Irvine separated from Faith Mission, there was no existing movement in the U.K. or Ireland like the one he started, where Workers left all and preached on Faith Lines. According to John G. Eberstein:
"...Wm. Irvine formed the breakaway movement. There was certainly no movement of that kind over here before that, nor did I know of any other movement over here to have existed before Irvine advocated 'leaving all' to follow the Lord” (Former President of Faith Mission, letter to Jim Vail March 22, 1989*).
Rev. Colin N. Peckham: “From these references, you can see that William Irvine definitely did not leave the Faith Mission to take over or become a part of an existing ministry. There certainly was no movement of that kind existing over here before Irvine's break-away movement. As William Irvine spent some time in the Faith Mission before leaving it, there is no possibility that he founded the Cooneyite sect before 1886, as it was in October 1886, that John George Govan began the Faith Mission” (Rev. Colin N. Peckham, Principal Faith Mission; Author of Heritage of Revival, book about history of Faith Mission; letter to Cherie Kropp dated May 29, 1991).
"William Irvine, one of the founders of the Go-Preachers’ Society, said it was Protestant evangelical...In cross-examination witness [Wm. Irvine] said he had never known of a new sect being founded without opposition” (IR, July 17, 1913).
1902: The coronation of King Edward VII at Westminster Abbey was celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1902.
1902 - ENNISCORTHY CONVENTION in Co. Wexford, Ireland. G. Pattison wrote: “I believe two Conventions had been held in Rathmolyon and one in Enniscorthy, none of which I attended” (G. P., Account of the Early Days and Fn. 49).
1902: A Convention was held in Derrygonnelly, Co. Fermanagh in a wooden hall, according to a list of Irish "Early Conventions." The Fermanagh Times reported about two Pilgrim ladies, the "Misses Dogherty," stirred up the residents of Derrygonnelly. Click Below to read these articles in the 1902 Fermanagh Times:
1902 or 1903, JULY - PORTADOWN CONVENTION in Co. Armagh, Ireland. A heading in G. Pattison's Account gives the year for this convention as 1903, whereas John Long and Alfred Magowan give the year as 1902. Pattison wrote: "…It would probably be within 4 or 5 years from the start when a Convention was arranged for Portadown (Co. Armagh, N. Ireland) in a hall…I made it my business to be at that convention..." NOTE: The headings and footnotes in Pattison Account were added later. They were not included on the original Account and may not be accurate (G. P., Accounts of the Early Days).
Long wrote: "Joseph Kerr and I went to a Conference held in Portadown; about sixty workers met together to consider missions, doctrines, companions, etc. also to exhort one another in the Lord our God" (Journal, June, 1902). Referring to this convention, Alfred Magowan wrote: "My own experience goes back to 1902, and my most real recollection of fellowship was that gathering in Portadown 28 or 29 years ago" (letter to Wilson McClung, Jan. 21, 1931).
1902: (23) more entered the work, including Sam Jones, the hymn writer; for a cumulative total of 51 workers. The new workers were 10 sisters and 13 brothers. They were (Brothers): Ed Armstrong, George Beattie, John Breen, Tom Elliot, Chas. Glenn, Charles Guy, John Hume, Adam Hutchison, Sam Jones, Joe Kerr, Robert McClure, Richard Meikle, Bob Skerritt; (Sisters): Lizzie Boyd, Nellie Cooper, Mrs. Ellen Elliot, Laura Falkiner, Dora/Dot Holland, Mary Knox, Maggie McCauley, Maggie McDougal, Mary Moodie and Mary Spence.
JOHN ALFRED MAGOWAN was 19 when he professed in 1902 in a mission held by Joe Kerr and Edward Cooney in the Balteagh School, Co. Armagh, N. Ireland. He entered the work in North America sometime around 1907. He is shown with John Burns as his companion on the List of Workers at the 1907 Pittsburgh & Chicago USA Conventions. His nickname is "Alphie," and his surname is sometimes misspelled "McGowan" or "McGowen."
Alfred (age 24) had $5.00 in his pocket when he and John Burns (age 19) held their first mission in Kentucky in October, 1907 (letter to Willie Hughes, July 1, 1957). He preached for a number of years in Indiana. In 1917 he married sister worker Sarah K. Dawson, also from Ireland. They may have continued preaching as a married worker couple for a couple years afterwards. Alfred was excommunicated from the 2x2 fellowship by Jack Carroll, Geo. Walker and James Jardine at the 1919 Illinois Convention. Sarah died in 1934, aged 52. In 1939, Alfred married Isobel Waugh. They had four sons and made their home near Portadown, Co. Armagh, N. Ireland. Alfred was a prolific letter writer and published some essays and a hymnbook.
In 1953, Alfred Magowan wrote a reminiscence in which he explained 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.
Click here to read more about Alfred Magowan.
“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” (Secret Sect by Parker, p. 26, Fn. 10).
WORKERS & SAINTS. For the first 5–6 years, from 1897 through 1902, Irvine's group consisted of (1) recruiters, called "Workers" or "Servants" and (2) converts or laymen called "Friends" or "Saints." Ed Cooney referred to the two classes as "fellow workers and saints." He wrote, "...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). Cooney also referred to the worker as "Servants" (IR, July 18, 1907).
Looking back, Alfred Magowan wrote to Cooney: "Our division of disciples into saints and servants worked out very badly from its beginning" (Alfred Magowan's letter to Edward Cooney, Nov. 7, 1953).
Some claim that in their beginning ALL converts became Workers and that there was no place for Saints, Friends or laymen. This is not true. On the contrary, there are quotes from various workers showing this was not true. G. Pattison mentions the names of some who were converted followers: G. Pattison and wife; John and Sara West (owners of Crocknacrieve, the site of large scale conventions starting in 1904); Wm. West and some of his family. There were also 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. Many of the family members of those who became workers were Saints, such as the GIll family. 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 there were no Saints.
However, the Saints were not a cohesive body. They didn't all gather together for Sunday meetings in homes or meet for annual conventions until 1904 when their first large scale convention was held at Crocknacrieve. The Workers and Saints both continued to attend the Protestant churches of their choice. The choice was left up to them as to where they would assemble for worship services (Journal, June, 1898). They didn't separate from other denominations until sometime in 1902 when home meetings were set up.
For example, from the first time Pattison sat in Wm. Irvine's mission in Cloughjordan to the time he made a complete break with the Methodist church in mid-1903, the year he attended his first convention at Portadown, was 5–6 years. During that time, he continued teaching Sunday school, continued to be a Methodist elder and a part-time preacher. He 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…" (G. P., Account of the Early Days).
IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND that for the first 5–6 years after the group's inception in 1897, the workers and their converts did not meet in churches in the homes. They (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, it was left up to the new recruits where they worshipped. This was the method of the Go-Preachers who were not (YET) a church or a sect. They were still a movement or mission. At this time, they accepted other Christians and Christian clergymen as saved and recognized their baptisms.
Up until July, 1905, 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" (Journal, July, 1905).
During this 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 special meetings. Many times John Long lists in his Journal, the names of preachers outside their group 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 Christian clergymen and Christians were accepted as fellow believers. The following quotes show their viewpoint at that times.
"BEFORE WM IRVINE": The early Workers and Saints who were Christians when they met Irvine and other Workers believed that their original commitments to Christ were binding. Ed Cooney said that: "he was glad to say he had been married to Jesus Christ twenty years ago and had not been divorced yet" (IR, June 2, 1904). NOTE: 1904 minus 20 years is 1884, the year Cooney was saved, which was long before he met Wm. Irvine, et al. John West, owner of Crocknacrieve conventions grounds, believed he had been saved ten years before he met the Go-Preachers:
"Mr. John West, Crocknacrieve...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" (IR, Oct. 20, 1904). NOTE: This would have been in 1894, before the Go-Preachers began and before they decided they were God's ONLY true Way on earth.
George Walker believed before he met a worker. "George always insisted that he had the new beginnings of new life while still preaching for the Methodist, before ever meeting Friends and Workers" (an anonymous ex-worker).
Some have asserted there were families of believers in Co. Cork, Ireland who met in homes for fellowship who predate Wm. Irvine and the others who went in the work at the turn of the 20th century. Among these people are rumored to be some of the Bateman, Burchill and Buttimer families, who have produced many workers through the years. It is possible Wm Irvine could have come in touch with people with a simple way of worship which helped or influenced him in forming the methods that he would use in his movement's ministry and worship. However, no recorded documentation has been found to back up this assertion.
There is an unsupported story that has circulated in the 2x2 sect that William Irvine’s sister was working for a professing family in Ireland who held Sunday meetings in their home as their ancestors had in their homeland. Reportedly, Irvine’s sister embraced this faith and introduced her brother Wm. to these folks and he also embraced it. Some versions of this story suggest these people had fled to Ireland earlier to escape persecution in their homeland--which country is given variously as Switzerland, the Alps, France, Armenia or Germany.
Early Worker Robert Darling is usually credited with giving out this story. Rob started in the work in 1905, seven years after the group and was not one of Irvine's original followers. Rob Darling verbally gave this account to some brother workers in the 1960s. At times, one of them, George Gittins, has repeated this account to groups, interlaced with his personal thoughts. Written notes of George’s talk repeating Rob’s account have been circulated. There are no dates, names or places in the account that can be verified. The accounts of both Rob Darling and George Gittins are based on hearsay and are secondary accounts. There are other records that contradict the “sister story,” and there is no record of Wm Irvine ever giving out this story about his sister.
Some have asserted the 2x2 workers were preaching as early as 1888. A letter dated January 1971 written by Sister Worker Hazel Hughes, a daughter of Fred and Mary Ann (Gill) Hughes, has been circulated. Hazel wrote: “our parents' people heard the gospel in 1888.” Other accounts as to when the gospel came to the Hughes family state that Hazel’s parents heard through her mother’s sister Emma Gill in North Dakota. The Gill family first heard Irvine in 1897 and Ellis Island records show that Emma did not come to America until December, 1904. This date of 1888 is only found in a single secondary document and is based on hearsay. It is most likely a transcription error or an error in verbal communication. The document is not written by a person who experienced the event described in it. Hazel had not been born in 1888—she was born in 1894.
1902: CHANGE IS IN THE AIR. In the Early Days, the workers were chiefly evangelists or revivalist who held missions. They were not a church. They had not YET established churches in the homes. They did not baptize or marry others. They did not serve communion. 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" (Alfred Magowan, letter to Wilson McClung, Jan. 21, 1931).
As time marched on and as the need arose, William Irvine and his Workers developed their teachings (doctrine), the rituals they would use and their traditions. Ed Cooney appropriately called it "groping their way." Their methods evolved...their belief system didn't come into existence with a single bolt of revelation. Wm. Irvine did not receive from God a complete set of plans at one time to assemble the 2x2 ministry and church. It wasn't like when God gave Moses the exact plans for building the tabernacle; or David the plans to build the temple; or Noah to build the ark.The movement was NOT "the same yesterday, today and forever." It was a work in progress. The Go-Preachers re-evaluated their methods, remodeled and made changes from time to time. 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." (IR, Oct. 13, 1904). The reporter would have observed at the large Crocknacrieve convention held earlier that year that there were numerous Saints to support the Workers/Tramps.
1902, JULY: BEGINNING OF BAPTIZING & REBAPTIZING. 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..." (Journal, Sept, 1899). This changed. G. Pattison wrote about the 1902 Portadown Convention where:
"Not long after my arrival, 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...did not altogether meet with my approval being, as I then thought, just another attempt at forming a 'new party' " (G. P.,Accounts of the Early Days).
A newspaper reported: "One of the many schisms and heresies which have come under notice in this neighbourhood lately, in the re-baptism by laymen of persons who have already received baptism in their infancy. No one could reasonably object to any laymen endeavouring by elementary preaching or teaching to convert sinful people from the error of their ways...but the re-baptizing of those who have been already baptized is quite another matter and a very serious error….We object to this new doctrine that baptized persons should be re-baptized by laymen. There is not a single instance in the Bible that such a ceremony was ever performed by the Lord, or by his disciples, or by any of the Apostles.
"This re-baptising of baptised persons is one of the modern errors of the Church of Rome. It is done in scornful rejection of the claim of any one to be a Christian who is outside the membership of that Church. They admit that baptism may not be expected, but, in their opinion, heretical baptism is not true baptism....Therefore, on the ground that this former baptism was null and void, they confer what they call true baptism" (IR, Nov. 10, 1904).
DESCRIPTIONS OF BAPTISMS. Baptism outdoors in public waters by immersion was quite uncommon at that time. The curious public came out in droves to watch the unusual spectable of a "Dipping," and nicknamed the converts the "Dippers." Sometimes at the baptism ceremonies, there was scoffing, laughing, jeering, shrieking, taunting and even sticks, mud and refuse were thrown which 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" (Irish Independent, August 14, 1906).
"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 underwent 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 section of the onlookers" (Irish Independent, June 6, 1905*).
"The leader went into the river breast deep, and several ladies in flannelette gowns were passed over to him. Each in turn was plunged under the water, and the throng of spectators shrieked with laughter as the shivering 'converts' were escorted to a house close by" (Irish Independent, May 2, 1905, p. 5).
The first baptism reported by the Impartial Reporter was June 2, 1904 and took place at Strangford Lough, Newtownards. Subsequently, numerous baptisms held in the Enniskillen area were reported in detail, accompanied by illustrations. The illustrations are in the TTT Photo Gallery. There are four: Select "next."
"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" (IR, Sept. 29, 1904).
COONEY'S HOLE LOCATION: "...baptisms took place in the Ballinamallard River on a Sabbath evening in September, 1904, and drew a large crowd of onlookers. These took place...behind what was then the creamery, now the Masonic Hall. This place in future years would be known locally as ‘Cooney’s Hole’" (Ballinamallard--A Place of Importance, Ballinamallard Historical Society, 2004, p. 66). Masonic Hall No. 315 has existed at the Baragh Road location since 1903. A Newspaper's description of a baptism:
"Ballinamallard was the scene of another ‘dipping’ on Sunday last...The scene was the same, that bend of the river which is now called ‘Cooney’s Hole’ locally…A large number of people congregated on both sides of the river waiting for the ‘moving of the waters'.…The dipping was then proceeded with. The workers formed two lines, as before, singing verses of well-known hymns; the men, young and old, and the girls, to be immersed, having undressed at the mill close by, walked or ran to the modern Bethabara, and, passing through the singing lines of comrades, were received by Mr. Thomas Elliott, and dipped in water as cold as 53 degrees Fahrenheit, while he announced that they were baptised in the name of the Trinity" (IR, Oct. 6, 1904).
"The ‘dipping’ was to take place at the White Pillar...Mr. Cooney and his disciples...proceeded in procession, sisters first and brothers last...The processionists wended their way...singing hymns, while under some of their arms, parcels were carried, which contained their bathing apparel. A large crowd followed them. Arriving at the White Pillar a ring was formed, and proceedings began, with the singing of a hymn, after which Mr. Cooney began...stating that...when Jesus came upon this earth that He was despised. He advised them to pull down their barns, sell all they had, and insinuated that they should follow him...he was glad to say he had been married to Jesus Christ twenty years ago, and had not been divorced yet...he called upon some around him to give their testimony, which calling was obeyed. More songs of victory were then sung...a large number left him and proceeded to an oblong tent that was erected on the grass not far from the water, in which they were to undress. Cooney in the meantime still conducted his meeting. At last ten males emerged from the tent, and forced their way through the crowd clad in their semmets and an old pair of trousers…Their leader waded up till nearly waist deep, and stopped, facing the shore. After a few preliminaries...they were thrown on their back and completely immersed, one by one…After this they formed in procession and proceeded up the road, followed by the police and a large crowd, and so ended Sunday’s performance" (IR, June 2, 1904). See PHOTO GALLERY for Baptism Sketches.
"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....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" (IR., Sept. 29, 1904;). Read entire description.
Tom Elliott was selected to do much of the baptising, probably due in part to his physique, and was nicknamed, "Tom the Baptist." Possibly Thomas and Robert Elliott were to the same man, mentioned in the above articles. There was no worker named Robert Elliott on the 1905 Workers List. According to Patricia Roberts, "It was Tom who baptised them all" (Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney, by Roberts, p. 153).
Perhaps Tom was unavailable, for John West, owner of the Crocknacrieve convention, did the baptizing at one of Ed Cooney's missions in Enniskillen (Fermanagh Herald, June 10, 1905, p. 4).
Whether Wm. Irvine was baptized other than as an infant has not been verified. George Gittins, a brother worker, recounts: “In talking to others since, I heard of workers talking to some workers from Canada here that witnessed the baptism of Wm. in truth,which was most interesting” (George Gittins' letter to Dale Knott, May 18, 1992*). "Robert Darling told me...I also talked to some of the friends who had witnessed William Irvine's baptism in the Truth. He had been baptized in the Faith Mission, where he had been a member and a preacher, but he disregarded this” (G. Gittins' letter to Nathan Barker, 2002*). NOTE: Faith Mission does not baptize; they are evangelist/missionaries only.
For additional articles on baptism scenes see the following newspaper issues:
Impartial Reporter: June 2, 1904 - October 13, 1904 - October 20, 1904 - October 27, 1904 - November 10, 1904
Fermanagh Times: March 14, 1907; Irish Independent: August 20, 1907.
1902: THE FIRST SUNDAY MORNING MEETINGS. The Go-Preachers received some strong criticism because they did not administer the sacrament of communion. The Impartial Reporter Editor objected 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” (IR, Oct. 27, 1904).
John Long wrote: "About that time Edward Cooney began to baptise 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. William Irvine shrank from this great and responsible undertaking; but afterwards went into it. This produced fresh opposition especially when important persons left their churches to go in with an improved testimony" (Journal, July, 1902).
At the 1903 Portadown Convention, G. Pattison reported: "Not long after my arrival, 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 baptize and also form churches for the breaking of bread, etc. 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, but I did attend a church meeting held somewhere in the neighborhood - in the town by Eddie [Cooney], who had been having a mission there shortly before and probably had already been forming churches" (G. P. Account of Early Days, Portadown Convention 1903).
Soon after a Sunday meeting would be placed in G. Pattison's home. John Long wrote: "At Wm. Irvine's request I went to Co. 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" (Journal, Aug., 1903).
John Long wrote in July, 1903: "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" (Journal, July 1903).
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 Weir's 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. View Photo. Since the first Crocknacrieve convention was held in 1904, this "camp meeting" did not refer to a convention, but rather to a Sunday fellowship meeting (Ballinamallard--A Place of Importance, by Ballinamallard Historical Society, 2004).
It is commonly known in Ireland that the first fellowship meeting in Dublin took place over Weirs Hardware Store in the home of Wm. C. & Susan Weir. Whether one of these was the very first fellowship meeting EVER to be held, or the first meeting to be held in the that particular area is unknown to the Author. The 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 again in 2014 and picked up a brochure about the business and building which is reprinted in the TTT Photo Gallery. View a photo of Weirs Store. The Weir family lived over their store. There were ten surviving children in the Weir family. Reportedly, sister worker Edie Weir left the work due to rheumatic fever, and lived above Weirs 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 then, the 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” (IR, Aug. 12, 1909). “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…” (IR, Aug. 5, 1909). 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" (IR, July 25, 1907).
NOTE: Some mistakenly believe the first church meetings in the homes were set up in the year 1908 derived from Parker's statement: “...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" (Secret Sect by Parker, pp. 24-25). However, neither John Long's Journal or Goodhand Pattison's Account of the Early Days were available to Parker at the time his book was published. Both these primary sources confirm that the year was actually 1902 when Sunday meetings were established in homes of members.
With the establishment of churches in the home, Irvine's movement became a new sect. They were no longer unsectarian.
Telling the Truth has a hard copy of the documents, books, newspaper articles, references, etc. used in this book. Any exceptions are noted.
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