Revised October 21, 2014
When was the physical 2x 2 ministry started?
What event was the catalyst or starting point?
When did the 2x2 Ministry Start?
This Chapter is devoted to answering this question.
Twelve possible start dates are given for your consideration:
(Click on the number to go to supporting details)
1. Was it the first Revival mission at Nenagh where more than 30 persons were converted by Wm Irvine? Or was it his second Revival mission at Rathmolyon, where 40 persons were converted? Then it was 1897.
2. Was it when Wm Irvine left Faith Mission? Then it was 1897, 1898, 1899 or 1901.
3. Was it after the Bicycle Trip to Scotland at the All-Day Meeting Dec 26 at Nenagh? Then it was 1899.
4. Was it when the first convention was held at Rathmolyon? Then it was 1899.
5. Was it when John Long went out preaching independently on Faith Lines? Then it was 1899.
6. Was it when George Walker went out preaching independently on Faith Lines? Then it was 1899.
7. Was it when Eddie Cooney went out preaching on Faith Lines? Then it was 1901.
8. Was it when Todd’s Mission disbanded? Then it was 1901.
9. Was it around the turn of the century? Then it was 1897 to 1903.
10. Was it when the FIRST Sunday morning fellowship meeting was held? Then it was 1902.
11. Was it when the workers withdrew converts from their churches and began to baptize and hold Sunday meetings with communion? Then it was 1903.
12. Was it when the workers first left the UK and went pioneering worldwide? Then it was 1903 & 1904.
Details follow below to support each of the twelve dates.
INTRODUCTION: When did the 2x2 sect become an established movement, sect, church or ministry? The date you chose for when the group started will depend on what event you view as the critical element or the pivot point. The events leading up to the movement’s formation did not all come together at the same time. Different things happened at different times. First, the ministry of workers was formed; and later, the fellowship meetings were added. It didn’t form overnight. To properly understand the formation and history of the 2x2 sect, one must analyze it progressively and intelligently.
The terms “sect” and “movement” and “founded” will be used in this chapter. The newspapers at the turn of the 20 th century referred to the movement as a “New Sect.” To found a group is to set up an organization or start a movement. These are not derogatory terms. If the word "founded" bothers you, just substitute “established” or “started.” If the word “church” bothers you, then substitute “assembly,” which is the Greek term translated as “church” in the King James Version. For example, hundreds of conventions all over the world have been founded (established or started) in the 20th century.
NOTICE: This chapter is not about the spiritual beginning that started with Jesus, which all Christians and Christian churches trace their roots back to. When the early workers claimed they weren’t starting anything new, they were referring to the group’s spiritual origin, which started long before they were born. This chapter is NOT about the spiritual origin. This chapter is about the physical, tangible history of the 2x2 ministry and church (assembly).
There are enough facts available to get a good grasp of what happened in 1897-1903, which are the formative years, from the idea to movement to founded church. All groups start unformed and then develop over time, with some groping along the way. Most all institutions are founded as the result of a movement which occurs prior to its organization, while founding members are doing something else. They don't just form overnight from scratch. They start with an idea (in the 2x2 case it was "faith lines"), and try it out—practice it, see if it works--and it evolves from there. The 2x2 movement started in August, 1897 with Irvine ’s highly successful Revival mission at Nenagh. Other successful missions followed from which others went out to preach. The number of ministers grew fast. The unorganized movement morphed to the point it needed structure. The founder, Wm Irvine, united the ministers and inaugurated a code of conduct. Later the fellowship system of meetings and conventions was established.
When was the physical 2x 2 ministry started?
What event was the catalyst or starting point?
1. Was it the first Revival mission at Nenagh where more than 30 persons were converted? Or was it the second Revival mission at Rathmolyon, where 40 persons were converted and nearly all of them went into the work? Then it was 1897
NOTE: The Nenagh mission was the "first" and was where the Revival started according to John Long. The Revival began in August and continued through the end of the year 1897. (John Long’s Journal, August, 1907)
1897 August - JOHN LONG: "In 1895, he [Wm. Irvine]...was sent by J. G. Govan to Northern Ireland to Evangelize; and from north to Co. Clare, in the south of Ireland. While conducting a mission in Kilrush, I met him and directed him to Nenagh, where a revival began in August, 1897, which afterwards formed into the Go-Preacher Testimony." (Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney by Patricia Roberts pp 12-13)
1897 August – WILLIAM IRVINE: "In Nov. 1896, I was sent to the West of Ireland to the hottest Roman Catholic spot in the world, and where this Irish trouble began--at the beginning of this year. After 6 or 7 months there, I got to where the Carroll's were in Nenagh; and there BEGAN the work that has spread so far."
(Letter to Dunbars from Wm Irvine, Oct. 13, 1920)
1897, August - JOHN LONG: “I left Tarbert, and went to my Aunt Kate Davis, in Ballyheigue, where I spent two weeks. William Irvine and Fred Tapp left also and went to Spanish Point, and from there to Nenagh where THE REVIVAL BEGAN…The Protestant School Mistress, Sister Oakley, was the first to get saved; altogether upwards of thirty persons of position and note got converted; most of them afterwards gave up all that they had to follow Jesus...At the mission held in Nenagh, a young man named Jack Carroll, also his sister May Carroll, got converted…" (John Long’s Journal, August 1897)
NOTE: The Nenagh mission was Irvine's "first" noteworthy mission and was where the Revival started in August, 1897, and continued through the rest of the year 1897. (John Long's Journal, August, 1897)
1897 - GOODHAND PATTISON: “All this added freshness and life to the words of one whose intense earnestness and wholehearted zeal and devotion none of us had seen before, and no wonder that Nenagh…had some of its best type powerfully appealed to, and yielded quite a crop of decisions for God, the following being some of them: Miss Oakely, who was then a teacher… sister of Geo. Loney and cousin of Geo. Coughlan and Hotel [?], Mrs. Williams; Miss E. Bradshaw, Allen Harkness and sister, Jack Carroll and sister May; who were then living with their Uncle Pat, an exclusive Plym [Plymouth Brethren]; Dick Norman and a young man named Fred Hughes. This last named went with William Irvine for a little while shortly afterwards and played, sang, etc…Probably there were others of whom I cannot now remember...” (Account of the Early Days by Goodhand Pattison)
1897 August – FAITH MISSION: “Eight months ago, before the advent of the Faith Mission, it would have been almost impossible to "unearth" more than a dozen live Christians in this town [Nenagh]; but now, praise the Lord, we have forty-one Prayer Union members, all trusting in Jesus, together with a number of other Christians who received blessing and help during the missions held by Pilgrim Irvine, and Pilgrims Pendreigh and McLean. When Pilgrim Irvine arrived here last August, he found the spiritual light of the place burning dimly. However, before he closed a six weeks’ mission, several backsliders were restored, and a number of souls had yielded to the Holy Spirit was pleading, and are now rejoicing in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus.”
NOTE: The Nenagh mission was held in August, 1897, where some 30+ people professed. (Bright Words, pp 91-92, April 15, 1898)
1897, September – JOHN LONG: “The society paid me the debt which enabled me to buy a second hand bicycle; it turned out to be of great use to me during the Revival Days that followed...At the mission held in Nenagh, a young man named Jack Carroll, also his sister May Carroll, got converted; they had a brother, Bill Carroll, who was a steward at Captain Fowlers, Rathmolyon, County Meath. Through their instrumentality they got the use of the School House in Rathmolyon for a mission for William Irvine, where forty persons got converted; most of them afterwards gave up their situations to go fully on the Lord's work…” (John Long’s Journal, September, 1897)
1897, October 3 - WILLIAM IRVINE: "In October, 1896, I was working a mission quite near where the Sinn Fein's are now getting more than they bargained for, in the burning of their town on October 3, 1920...on the day I STARTED the mission there that stirred the whole of that country for years to come, as I did in Southwest Ireland and finally all over Ireland."
NOTE: The October, 1897 mission was held at Rathmolyon. (Wm Irvine’s Letter to Dunbars, October 13, 1920)
1897 October - JACK JACKSON: “Afterwards my mind turned to the departure of our brother last Saturday and my mind went back 53 years and about 8 months, if I am right in my calculations, when he with some others chose as Moses chose, or shall I say…“spoke at least in his heart as Paul spoke in his heart, when he said, ‘Lord what wilt thou have me to do?’ That was in Rathmolyon.”
Funeral Notes of Willie Gill, June 5, 1951
NOTE: This calculates to October, 1897.
1897, October - JOHN LONG: "... a young man named Jack Carroll...had a brother, Bill Carroll, who was a steward at Captain Fowlers, Rathmolyon, County Meath. Through their instrumentality they got the use of the School House in Rathmolyon for a mission for William Irvine, where forty persons got converted; most of them afterwards gave up their situations to go fully on the Lord's work."
NOTE: This was the Rathmolyon Mission. (John Long's Journal September, 1897)
1897, October – JOHN LONG: “The little town of Roscrea, Kings County, had a fair congregation of warm hearted Methodists; one feature of their work for God was a very good Christian Endeavour made up of Episcopalians and Methodist…On hearing of the Revivals in Nenagh and Rathmolyon, Pastor Crookshanks invited William Irvine to have a mission there, when many young people decided for Christ. After that mission…I had a letter from him [Irvine] telling me about the success of the missions, and saying that he expected to soon return again to labour in the South of Ireland, as he believed the good work had only begun…” ( John Long’s Journal, October, 1897)
1897, November – JOHN LONG: “I removed from Birr to Roscrea and saw some of the results and fruits of the Revival. About the same time William Irvine had returned to Nenagh and had a mission in the Presbyterian Church given to him by Pastor Douglas. Some new persons decided for Christ, and some old believers were stirred up, also the young converts of the former mission were helped much, they were children who talked and walked for Jesus, and the whole town was in a ferment of Revival Element.” (John Long’s Journal November, 1897)
1897 - GARRETT HUGHES: "Ninety years ago, a letter came from Ireland. We heard about those with no home, no name, etc. Forty people made their choice. Sixteen went out in the work--that was the beginning...There is not a country not open to the gospel now. It is the most marvelous thing ever to happen."
NOTE: "Ninety years ago" = 1987 Minus 90 years = 1897
Funeral Service for Erling Omdal, Oct. 6, 1987, Eagle Bend, Minnesota
Garrett Hughes is a deceased USA Worker Overseer, nephew of Willie Gill of Rathmolyon.
1897 - GARRETT HUGHES: “The church was founded on the date the forty made their choice and 16 went into the work. Never before had this happened." Hunter, North Dakota Convention 1988 or 1989.
In his later years, Garrett Hughes spoke in private as well as from convention platforms about "the beginning of days," the first workers, first conventions, etc. His physical health was pretty good at the time; he was still doing quite a few sit-ups and was able to get around and take care of his bodily needs and functions.
1897 - EDWARD COONEY, under oath in the King’s Bench Division, London before Mr. Justice Darling in case styled Edward Cooney v. The People Ltd: “Mr. Justice Darling—Were you the founder of this sect?—No, William Irvine was the first, about sixteen years ago. I cast in my lot with him as a fellow-preacher, and preached a good deal in the north of Ireland.” (Impartial Reporter, December 18, 1913)
NOTE: 1913 minus 16 years = 1897
1896 - ALFRED MAGOWAN: “And even if all that he dug out of the graves of our 60 year history was true: would that justify the exhumation?”
NOTE: 1956 minus 60 years = 1896
(Testimony of a Witness for the Defence by Alfred Magowan, January 13, 1956)
1895, 1896 or 1897 - DORA HOLLAND of Kilrush is generally credited with being the very FIRST PERSON TO PROFESS through Wm Irvine. She is reported as professing in the years 1895, 1896 and also 1897. Faith Mission records Wm. Irvine was preaching for them in Kilrush in 1897, and John Long records this mission in his Journal. Sydney Holt, Dora’s nephew who was a worker, gives the year as 1896; and computing from an extract of a 1966 letter written by Dora Holland's brother Harry Holland, she professed in 1895. The 1971 Transcript of a tape by Hazel Hughes, a niece of Willie Gill, also gives the year Dora professed as 1895. (1971 Transcript of a tape by Hazel Hughes)
COMMENT: Since Wm Irvine’s Revival that began in Nenagh took place in the latter part of 1897, it would seem that Dora Holland was “grandfathered” into the sect after its inauguration. She went into the work in 1902, according to the 1905 Workers List.
1897 - ALFRED TROTTER: "Now my dear sister, over eight years have passed since I wrote the foregoing account of "the early days". I feel constrained to resume writing because a friend in England has sent me a list of the first two hundred workers, who went out to preach from 1897 to 1905. The first two mentioned are Wm. Irvine and John Kelly…In 1899 four brother workers went forth: John Long, George Walker, Tom Turner and Alex Givan.”
Alfred Trotter’s Letter to his sister Edith Trotter, Sydney, NSW Australia, January 8, 1968 (1905 Workers List)
1897-1898 - WILSON MCCLUNG in a sworn testimony: "The sect, continued McClung, had been in existence eight or nine years, a man named Irvine being 'the first to step out.' "
NOTE: This calculates back to the years 1897-1898. (Lloyd's Weekly News December 23, 1906)
1897-1898 - WILSON McCLUNG: "Our mission was started by William Irwin, a Scotchman, seven or eight years ago. Others followed him. I myself was a Civil Servant in Dublin. I resigned my post, sold all that I had and gave to the poor, and went out to preach."
NOTE: Wilson McClung was Overseer of New Zealand for many years. (Impartial Reporter June 21, 1906, p. 3)
WILLIAM IRVINE: “I am the one God used altogether--not "most." NO WILLIAM--NO TESTIMONY. The mountains echo and re-echo the human voice, and so The Testimony was the echo and re-echo of the Voice of God through my lips, though I knew it not then, as I do today." (Letter by William Irvine to Eddie Cooney, (March 2, 1923)
1897 - JOHN LONG: “Now I come to the saddest events and most painful, trying and unexpected that I met with during my life’s experience; namely having to leave the Go Preacher fellowship; which God used me so much in, FROM ITS BEGINNING, ten years ago.”
NOTE: 1907 minus 10 years = 1897. ( John Long’s Journal June, 1907)
1897 - JOHN LONG: “Mr. John Long has written us that he was the man who obtained for William Irvine ‘the first opening for a mission in Nenagh, August, 1897.’ That "William Irvine is the name of the original leader of the Go-Preachers. Irvine Weir was one of the first staff of preachers who emigrated to America; these two names seem to have got mixed up. He declares that the movement dates from 1897.”
(Heresies Exposed by W.M. Rule, Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ, 1964, pp 73-78)
1897: BOOK - Encyclopedic Dictionary of Cults, Sects, and World Religions: “William Irvine (1863-1847) was a ‘Pilgrim preacher’ for the Faith Mission. In 1897, he began teaching that no preachers should receive a salary but should be homeless. Gathering several more ministers, including Edward Cooney, the message (also called ‘the experiment’) began to spread.”
By George A. Mather, Larry A. Nichols and Alvin J. Schmidt
Publisher: Zondervan, 1993 ISBN: 978-0310531005
1897: BOOK - Pentecostal Origins: Early Pentecostalism in Ireland in the context of the British Isles, Studies in evangelical history and thought: “The Cooneyites developed from a split in the Faith Mission around 1897 when William Irvine, a Scot from Kilsyth, became disenchanted with the Mission while a pilgrim working in Ireland.” Author: James Robinson
Publisher: Paternoster, 2005 ISBN: 978-1-8422-7329-6 (pp. 33-35)
1897: BOOK - Cults and Isms: “This fanatical sect was brought to the birth in Ireland in 1897 by W. W. Irvine, who was later joined by Edward Cooney.”
By John Oswald Sanders; out of print; See: Cooneyites," Page 166
Publisher: Lakeland, 1969
1897 is the date used the most in the historical documents.
NOTE: 1897 was used by: Wm Irvine, John Long, Ed Cooney, Goodhand Pattison, Alfred Trotter, Wilson McClung, Jack Jackson, Garrett Hughes…
In 1897 over 70 people professed in the first two Revival missions that were held at Nenagh and Rathmolyon, Ireland; and a large number of them went into the work and formed the nucleus of the first group of organized workers.
1897, September - WILLIAM IRVINE: "I was put out of Faith Mission in September, 1897." (Letter to Kerrs, Dec 4, 1921)
1898 or 1899, September - WILLIAM IRVINE: “In September, 1898, I was put out of the Faith Mission for not being willing to conform to all their piccadilly discipline, etc.”
In the same letter he states: Was put out of Faith mission and had first convention in Ireland, 1899.
(Wm Irvine’s Letter to Dunbars, October 13, 1920)
1898 - NEW ZEALAND TRUTH: "Of the making of new religious sects there is no end. And as if Australia had not already an ample variety of religiosity, a new one has come here. Officially, they bear no name, but, for reasons hereafter explained, they are variously known as "The Go-Preachers," "The Cooneyites," "The Irvineites," "The No-Sect Sect," and sometimes as "The Dippers" …It would appear that the sect was started in Great Britain in 1898. Six years previously one William Irvine… Kilsyth, Scotland, attended a mission service held by the ‘Rev.’ John McNeil, an Evangelist. Eight months later he resigned his position and went to the Bible Training Institute at Glasgow, and until 1898 he was attached to the "Faith Mission"…But while working in the South of Ireland Irvine came to the conclusion that his position was ‘inconsistent with the example of Christ,’ and he left the mission to preach alone. ‘Had I chosen the ordinary path that leads to the ministry, with its churches, chapels, congregations, and stipends, all would have been well,’ says Irvine. So he inaugurated the ‘Go-Preachers,’ who sometimes vary the name by calling themselves the ‘Tramp Preachers.’ " (The New Zealand Truth May 18, 1907)
1901 – DOUG PARKER: "In 1901, Irvine resigned OFFICIALLY from the Faith Mission. George Walker and Matthew Wilson witnessed his formal resignation."
The Secret Sect by Doug & Helen Parker, p.6
NOTE: Cherie Kropp has not been able to confirm there was an official resignation as described by Parker above.
1901 - JOHN G. EBERSTEIN (President of the Faith Mission, Edinburgh): “The William Irvine to whom your correspondent refers, and who was associated with Edward Cooney in the beginning of this movement was a worker in the Faith Mission from 1895 to 1901. In that year he withdrew from the Mission, and the new movement came into existence, some of the members calling themselves “Pilgrims” as it appears they do still.”
(Life of Faith, April 23, 1964, Vol. 88, No. 3898: Who Are the Cooneyites?)
1900, December - JOHN LONG: “About that time William Irvine left the Faith Mission. All who knew the man was acquainted with the fact that he did not covet or desire to start a new sect or Mission; and his leaving the Faith Mission was not without feeling the risk and responsibility of doing so; but circumstances and events rendered it necessary. Some workers who gave up their situations to go fully in the Lord’s work were not accepted by the Faith Mission; others did not feel led to join it; and others believed in being more like the pattern as seen in Jesus, and reforming according to the ideal church in the Acts of the Apostles; among the latter was Edward Cooney, who had newly started out, became a strenuous advocate. Most of these workers were either young converts or disciples of William Irvine; and it became impossible for him to be true to the rules of the Faith Mission and to them; so he resigned the one and entered enthusiastically into the other.” ( John Long’s Journal, December, 1900)
1901 - BRIGHT WORDS the Faith Mission monthly magazine shows Wm Irvine as a Pilgrim through December 1900. Beginning in 1901, his name was dropped from their Workers List.” Their Official List of All Workers gave the reason for his departure as: "founded Cooneyites in S. Ireland.”
1897-1900-01 PATRICIA ROBERTS: “It would seem from the foregoing that between 1897 and 1900/1 a number of workers, including Irvine, were simultaneously connected with both the Faith Mission and the independent movement which under the “leadership” of Irvine sprang from it. These workers were groping for further light as they stepped through the night of sectarian confusion toward the dawn.”
The Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney 1867-1960, p 17 ny Patricia Roberts (ISBN 0 9510109 4 8) Pubished by: William Trimble, Ltd., Enniskillen, N. Ireland, 1990)
3. Was it after the Bicycle Trip to Scotland at the All-Day Meeting Dec 26 at Nenagh? Then it was 1899
1899 - DR. CORNELIUS JAENEN: “In 1899 William Irvine, who had not yet been disaffiliated by the Faith Mission, proposed a bicycle tour of Scottish towns to a number of these independent evangelists. This was followed by an all-day meeting on the Feast of St. Stephen at Nenagh, which is sometimes cited as the moment of consolidation of the various contributing elements.”
The Apostles Doctrine and Fellowship, p 524; ISBN I-894508-48-3
Publisher: Legas Publishing, Ottawa, Toronto
NOTE: The Feast of St. Stephen or St. Stephen's Day is a Christian saint’s day celebrated on December 26 in the Western Church.
1899-1900: JOHN G. GOVAN, Founder of FAITH MISSION: "When in Ireland I came into closer contact with a movement that has been going on for the past year or two. A number of young people are going out on quite independent lines, holding missions in various parts both of Ireland and Scotland…As some have been mistaken for pilgrims, we think it necessary to say that the Faith Mission is not responsible for this movement." (Bright Words August 1901, pp. 175-6)
JOHN G. GOVAN, Founder of Faith Mission: "We regret that it seems necessary to again point out that missions are being held in various parts by persons who represent themselves to be "Faith Mission" workers, but who are not in any way under our control or direction. This movement which has almost no organisation and little method, was started by Mr. Wm. Irvine, at one time much used as a pilgrim in our Mission, and some of whose converts we are glad to have as efficient workers among us today. Though somewhat on our lines there are various points, both in method and teaching, that we do not approve of, and in which they widely differ from us. Then we hear of instances in which some of these irresponsible workers have misrepresented and spoken against the Faith Mission, while taking personal advantage of it by holding missions in places we have already worked, and seeking the support of our Prayer Unions." ( Bright Words December 1903, p. 275)
REV. C. N. PECKHAM, Principal, Faith Mission: "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 in October, 1886 John George Govan began the Faith Mission."
Letter to Cherie Kropp by Rev Colin Peckham dated May 29, 1991
Click Here to view copy in TTT Photo Gallery:
4. Was it when the first convention was held at Rathmolyon? Then it was 1899
NOTE: The first convention was held at Rathmolyon on Willie Gill’s farm.
An Irish "Early Conventions" List shows Rathmolyon conventions were held in 1901 and 1903.
1899 - WILLIAM IRVINE: “Was put out of Faith mission and had first convention in Ireland 1899.” In this same letter he states: “In September, 1898, I was put out of the Faith Mission for not being willing to conform to all their piccadilly discipline, etc.” (William Irvine’s Letter to Dunbars, October 13, 1920)
1900 - JOHN LONG: "I returned again to Rathmolyon to a Convention; the first general one held in connection with the work in the South of Ireland. About forty Christian workers met together to consider the word of the Lord. At that conference, (I) met G.C. Grubb, Robert Miller, Robert Todd, William Irvine, Edward Cooney and others.”
(John Long’s Journal July, 1900)
1899 - WILLIAM CLELAND (Wm Irvine’s cousin): “For them to have given you the idea that it went right back to Christ--that’s an absolute lie. It went back to Bill Irvine. It might be a good question to ask those who say they are from the beginning, "Who was ahead of William Irvine?" William Irvine was entirely responsible for the creation of this movement. He gathered a few converts around him in Ireland and he had the idea that he could facilitate the spreading of the gospel by having a few men and women join themselves to him. His ideas of preaching were entirely on his ideas of Matthew ten. And yet they have the hide to tell one that it went back to the time immemorial. It went back to exactly 1899 when the first workers gathered around Bill Irvine.”
NOTE: 1899 was the first Rathmolyon Convention.
(The Secret Sect p 96 by Doug & Helen Parker (ISBN 0-9593398-0-9) MacArthur Press Pty. Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 1982)
1899-1903 - GOODHAND PATTISON: “Meanwhile, the work was spreading rapidly with a goodly number of workers in the field. I believe two Conventions had been held in Rathmolyon and one in Enniscorthy…It would probably be within 4 or 5 years from the start when a Convention was arranged for Portadown in a hall, which I believe belonged to a Mr. Corbett…Next year's Convention was at Crocknacrieve.” (Account of the Early Days by Goodhand Pattison, Paragraph: Conventions and Footnote 49)
NOTE: The Portadown Conv. was held in 1902. 1902 minus 4-5 years = 1897 or1898 = “the start.” There were conventions held at Rathmolyon in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1903; Portadown in 1902; Enniscorthy in1902; and Crocknacrieve in 1904.
The 1905 WORKERS LIST is the earliest known Workers List to surface. The heading is: “Names of Workers at July 1905.” This list is divided into two sections: “Brothers” and “Sisters,” and gives (1) the worker’s name, and (2) the “Year Started” in the work. The order of the workers on the list is by seniority; with the names of the workers who started in the work listed first, and the list ends with the worker with the least time in the work, as of July, 1905. This list contains 201 workers total: 76 Sisters and 125 Brothers. The FIRST two names on the official 1905 Workers List are Wm Irvine and John Kelly and there is no date beside their names. These two men were also listed on the Faith Mission Staff of Workers for the years 1895 through 1900. In comparing twelve (12) different copies of this list, Wm Irvine and John Kelly are listed as the first two workers. The dates they entered the work are left blank on 9 lists; one list shows 1897 and one list shows 1899. So it appears that the 1905 Workers List limits the date Irvine started in the work as some time up to and including the year 1899. Four male workers are listed next, starting in the year 1899. John Long is one of them, and according to his Journal, he began preaching on Faith Lines Jan. 1, 1899.
5. Was it when John Long went out preaching independently on Faith Lines? Then it was 1899
1899, January 1 - JOHN LONG began independently preaching solely on Faith Lines: "On the first of January, 1899, I started on the new lines of Faith in God; that morning one pound came to me by post." (John Long's Journal January, 1899)
"Faith Lines is a preacher going forth without any fixed or stated salary, neither any public collections at meetings, but just trusting in God to put it into the hearts of God's people to give to the support of them who ministered in Spiritual things. If more came in than necessary, learning to abound; if less, learning to suffer lack…" (John Long's Journal January, 1899)
"Faith Lines means work lines; but the labourer is worthy of his hire, 1 Tim. 5:18. Faith Lines means cross lines; for it is not popular to be living by the kindness of the people. Faith Lines means suffering lines among people who are not practical and kindly disposed; and in slum and poor districts, it was expecting something from the preacher they are, and not giving something to his maintenance; therefore, it is a good thing to be able to abound at times and in divers places, for Jesus fed their bodies, as well as their souls." (John Long's Journal November, 1905)
NOTE: In November, 1898, John Long resigned from his position as Methodist Colporteur. (John Long's Journal November, 1905)
1907 June - JOHN LONG: “Now I come to the saddest events and most painful, trying and unexpected that I met with during my life’s experience; namely having to leave the Go Preacher fellowship; which God used me so much in, FROM ITS BEGINNING, ten years ago...the wrong done to me at that time severed me from some of my near relatives; and robbed me of my privilege, namely the right of fellowship in the mission I helped to start.”
(John Long’s Journal June, 1907"
“Among my friends at Cloughjordan was one Goodhand Pattison, a man who meant well; he tried to expostulate with me, to be careful, as it would not be for the better if William Irvine and I separated, we being the two instruments used of God at the origin of that movement…he [Irvine] denounced me… that I lived for years on his (Irvine's) testimony. Unto these I said but little and let the thing pass by. But if God used him to open up my way in Scotland; God used me to open up his way in Ireland; and during the ten years since the revival began with very little exception, I was in lodgings; and hard put to it at times and received very little financial help from him. I was too quiet for William Irvine, and he was a warrior and an able conversationalist.
6. Was it when George Walker Long went out preaching independently on Faith Lines? Then it was 1899.
1899, MARCH - John Long wrote: “… spent another week in Dublin City , and met with Irvine Weir, George Walker, Albert Quinn, and others who soon afterwards gave up their situations to go fully on the Lord's work.
(John Long’s Journal March, 1899)
NOTE: George Walker was 21 in March, 1898 when he first heard Wm Irvine preach. He made his choice on April 11, 1898 on the platform of a railway station. He became a full-time worker sometime in 1899, exact date not known.
**NOTE: Ed Cooney stated under oath that he was not the founder/first, and gave the date for the founding as 1897.
1897 EDWARD COONEY: In the King’s Bench Division, London, on Thursday, before Mr. Justice Darling questioning Edward Cooney.
“Mr. Justice Darling—Were you the founder of this sect?—No, William Irvine was the first, about sixteen years ago. I cast in my lot with him as a fellow-preacher, and preached a good deal in the north of Ireland.”
NOTE: 1913 minus 16 years = 1897. (Impartial Reporter December 18, 1913)
(no date) - PETER COMRIE, brother-in-law of William Irvine: “It was definitely William Irvine who started this movement. Between he and Edward Cooney, they did everything. If John Hardie has misled you that this belief is from the beginning, that is definitely a lie.”
(The Secret Sect p 96: by Doug & Helen Parker (ISBN 0-9593398-0-9) MacArthur Press Pty. Ltd, Sydney, Australia, 1982)
When Cooney saw that Irvine and others had given up all, he felt the urge to go too…as he was to write some 30 years later, "the man who finally moved me to go to preach was William Irvine…" (Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney by Patricia Roberts, Chapter 3, pp 19-20)
8. Was it when Todd’s Mission disbanded? Then it was 1901
NOTE: Since Wm Irvine joined Faith Mission 2-1/2 years before the Todd’s departure, he would have been acquainted with them.
1901 - GOODHAND PATTISON: “Just at that time a Mr. and Mrs. Todd, who had been Faith Mission pilgrims, had started a similar line of things to Mr. Govan's with their headquarters in Enniscorthy, having (I presume) Ireland before them as their first and chiefest field of activity… to start off with, they did not seem to have any of their own converts to go forth as workers, and so getting in touch with Mr. Irvine, who was having quite a number willing and anxious to go, they took on the direction and oversight of such, and in a short time had a pretty nice number in the field, including Tom Turner, John Hardie, Emma Gill, Annie Holland and Sarah Sullivan, and I dare say several others, probably Alex Givan…
Anyhow, the connection didn't last very long as I believe the workers jointly and individually felt Mr. Todd was not the man to superintend and direct such an important movement, and probably pressed Mr. Irvine himself into acceptance of responsibility… and "Todd's Mission," as it was then called, shortly became a thing of the past…And the workers now in fellowship with William Irvine went on and increased in numbers, and perhaps I may add increased in their attachment to and respect for their chief's leadership, possibly more so than was good for him or them…” (Account of the Early Days by Goodhand Pattison)
1897, November, FAITH MISSION: "We are sorry that Pilgrim and Mrs. Todd after nine years' service in the Mission, during which time they have been much used of God in many different parts (the latter as Pilgrim Mitchell for seven years), have retired from among us. They intend going out on independent work in Ireland, unconnected with any mission, commencing, likely in County Wicklow."
Bright Words March 1900, pgs 56-57
FAITH MISSION: "Since we started in Ireland some seven or eight years ago, several agencies have followed suit on somewhat similar lines...in the south there is the mission conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Todd, formerly workers with us." (Bright Words March 1900, pgs 56-57)
1901, September - J. G. GOVAN, Founder of Faith Mission: "Mr. Todd is now appointed to the home secretaryship of the South American Evangelical Mission, with offices in Liverpool, and at the suggestion of himself, and his workers, we [Faith Mission] have agreed to take over the superintendence of their missions." (Bright Words May, 1903)
9. Was it around the turn of the century? Then it was 1897 to 1903.
GEORGE WALKER’s 1942 Statement to the U.S. Selective Service: "We take this opportunity to state that during the closing years of the last century and the first years of this century a number of people in the British Isles and in America were exercised in heart and mind, through their study of the Scriptures, in regard to the methods of preaching and worship in the several churches of which they were then members." (Telling The Truth website Photo Gallery Photo of Letter)
DR. CORNELIUS JAENEN: “By the last decade of the nineteenth century, a number of religious activities in the British Isles gave rise to a movement which first manifested itself at Nenagh, in county Tipperary, and soon spread throughout Ireland, and eventually throughout the world by the end of the twentieth century. This nameless spiritual fellowship, sometimes condescendingly referred to as the Two-by-Twos, espousing the ideals of apostolic preaching and evangelical poverty, participatory worship in the homes of the laity, and observance of the ordinances of immersion baptism and frequent communion, did not fit into the sociological models of sect, cult, or denomination.” (The Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship by Dr. Cornelius Jaenen, p 518, ISBN I-894508-48-3.
Publisher: Legas Publishing, Ottawa, Toronto)
WILLIAM LEWIS: "Since early workers followed a Scottish preacher in Ireland before the turn of the 20th century, they have spent their lives traveling from home to home with little more than their clothes."
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota, Nov. 2, 1986
NOTE: William Lewis is Deceased Overseer of Texas
SUNDAY INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER: “The performance of the Cooneyites most recently formed of sects, which mysteriously sprung into existence under the leadership of an Enniskillen man named Cooney, have caused a good deal of commotion in various part of the North of Ireland…A hardfaced Scotsman followed in about nine months. He was William Irwin, the founder of the Tramps and Chief Baptizer...One night Irwin announced, ‘I am St. Paul the Second!’” (Sunday Independent, Dublin, June 10, 1906)
10. Was it when the FIRST Sunday morning fellowship meeting was held? Then it was 1902
COMMENT: The date of the FIRST MEETING is not known. It is common knowledge that the FIRST fellowship meeting in Dublin, Ireland took place over Weir's Hardware Store at 27 Baggot Street, which was owned by Wm. Caldwell Weir and his wife, Susan.
NOTE: This may have been the FIRST meeting ever held in Ireland, OR it may have been the FIRST meeting to be held in Dublin. (View Photograph of Weirs Store from TTT Photo Gallery)
1902: "In 1901 John West bought Crocknacrieve House, and the following year the first Cooneyite camp meetings were held in the gate lodge.”
Book: Ballinamallard--A Place of Importance, by Ballinamallard Historical Society, 2004
NOTE: The gate lodge is a small building at the entrance to the Crocknacrieve land. The source for this statement also relates that the first Crocknacrieve convention was held in 1904, so the "camp meeting" held in 1902 did not refer to a convention, but rather to a fellowship meeting.
1902 - JOHN LONG: "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 July, 1902)
1903: 34 workers entered the work; 20 brothers and 14 sisters, bringing the total to 85.
1903 JOHN LONG: "...we had a visit from William Irvine; he wanted to ask my advice about the work, for he was in a strait between two as to whether he should go from the work as leader; and labour for God independently in a new district; as he shrank back from forming a new mission or sect; and the work and workers at that time were very scattered and disorganized. He was very downcast, and disheartened and humbled before God: he said to me whatever they would do, he would serve the Lord. I encouraged him not to forsake the work which resulted very largely as the outcome of his own testimony; but to call a Conference; and get the workers united together; and form the young converts into assemblies where they could get spiritual food, but to be open and unsectarian in attitude towards all other sects, missions and persons;" (John Long's Journal April, 1903)
NOTE: In the above, John Long confirms that what was started "resulted very largely as the outcome of his (Irvine's) own testimony". John Long is the chief eyewitness because he was there at the very beginning and could be considered one of the founding members; however, he acknowledges William Irvine's role as founder of the new sect that was formed "largely (by) the outcome" of his testimony.
1903, July – JOHN LONG: "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... from that Conference a few workers including William Irvine, went to America for a gospel tour." (John Long's Journal July, 1903)
1903 - DOUG PARKER: "…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 allegiance to their former ways of life...At that important 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…Irvine's followers were willing to accept his strict code of discipleship and at the close of the convention the men and women took a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience." (Book: The Secret Sect by Doug & Helen Parker, p 12)
1903: "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 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.'" (Account of the Early Days by G. Pattison, Paragraph: Conventions)
1903 - JOHN LONG: "I went to County Tipperary and baptized many disciples; and helped to form their 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)
JOHN LONG: "…The definite article [“the”] used in such a narrow way as The truth, The way, The Testimony, Etc. unto the exclusion of all other sects and missions outside their own became at that time very common. They “unChristianized” all Christians outside themselves; and refused fellowship with them, and I could not go that length conscientiously; and indeed the instructions of Christ, given in Matthew Ten to His Apostles appears to be so contrary to that belief and spirit that it must have been blindness on the part of Irvine and Cooney not to have seen it" (John Long’s Journal June, 1907).
1903 – GEORGE BEATTIE: "It was in 1903 that the Law of Celibacy was decided upon. Irvine would not recognize anyone unless they gave up ALL."
(G. Beattie transcript of personal interview, 1954; The Secret Sect, Footnote 3, Page 20)
1903 – WILLIE CLELAND (Irvine’s cousin): "Regarding the meeting in Rathmolyon when the Vow of Celibacy was taken by the brother workers; I was there at the meeting and promised like the others to observe it. This happened in 1903. It then became the recognized thing for all workers, and any one failing to observe it was just not right and looked upon gravely with suspicion."
(W. Cleland January 18, 1955 personal communication with Doug Parker, The Secret Sect, Footnote 3, Page 20)
12. Was it when the first workers left the U.K. and went pioneering worldwide? Then it was 1903.
After the 1903 Rathmolyon Convention, the first three workers went to the U.S.A. They were: Wm Irvine, Irvine Weir and George Walker. After that, more and more workers left the U.K. (affectionately called the “Old Country” and abbreviated as O.C.) to preach, mainly in English speaking countries, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
JULY, 1903: JOHN LONG - After that we went to a Convention in Rathmolyon…It was from that conference a few workers including William Irvine, went to America for a gospel tour. (John Long’s Journal June, 1903)
"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.” (Wm Irvine’s Letter to Dunbars October 13, 1920)
In 1897, John Long met Wm Irvine for the first time. Long records details and dates about Irvine’s early missions and his converts who volunteered to go preach also. Of the 70+ who professed in Irvine’s first two Revival missions in 1897, a large number of them went into the work and formed the nucleus of the first group of organized workers. This is a very good basis for citing 1897 as the start date.
In 1901, Wm Irvine began to take an active role as Overseer of the group. In 1902 the workers began moving their converts out of the local churches they had been attending and started forming house churches/assemblies where they served communion. They also began to baptize new converts and to re-baptize Christians. After the fellowship meetings were installed, there was a worker organization PLUS a church organization. 1901 is a good year for when it was officially established, since that was the year Irvine was named first overseer.
In 1903 Irvine united and organized the group and their basic tenets of belief and practices were agreed upon at a three week convention held in Rathmolyon. In 1903 a few workers went to evangelize America and in 1904 many workers sailed to various parts of the world. By 1903, it was no longer a movement--it was a distinct church organization. 1903 is a good year, for it was when the inaugural convention was held where they organized and became a cohesive movement/sect, and began to go on missions worldwide.
1897 is the date used the most in the historical documents. It is documented in newspapers and early writings by these early workers: Wm Irvine, John Long, Ed Cooney, Goodhand Pattison, Wilson McClung and Jack Jackson.
NOTE: TTT Author uses 1897 because John Long and the majority of other historical accounts do.
Answering the question: "When did the 2x2 church begin?"
Here are some concise statements one could use:
It coalesced around a Scotsman named William Irvine between 1897 and 1901 in Ireland.
Wm Irvine was the first of a worker movement which began in 1897 with several Revival meetings. A three-week convention in 1903 at Rathmolyon was the inaugural convention where they organized and became a cohesive movement/sect.
The ministry was founded in the years 1897-1901 by Wm Irvine, and in the church was added in 1902. The ministers began to evangelize worldwide in 1903.
Between 1897 and 1901, Wm. Irvine, the primary founder, organized the Friends, Workers, home church meetings, baptism, gospel meetings and conventions which still exist today.
The fellowship of Friends and Workers began as a movement in 1897 after a mission by William Irvine and John Long. The ministry movement grew and it was united into a group in 1901 with Irvine as the leadership. The inaugural convention was held in 1903 at Rathmolyon, Ireland. The fellowship of friends was founded in 1902-1903 when workers began separating their converts into home meeting groups. The workers first went worldwide in 1903.
The movement was started by Wm Irvine with a Revival Mission in Nenagh in 1897 and developed over time after the Matthew Ten discussion in 1898 with John Long. The growing number of independent workers united under Irvine in 1901. Irvine held the inaugural convention where they formally organized in 1903. Irvine was Founder and Overseer and Cooney was the co-leader. Began forming the house church meetings 1902-03. The full development of the exclusivity doctrine was entrenched in 1907, with the excommunication of John Long. The primary founder Irvine was excommunicated in 1914, and the secondary founder Cooney was excommunicated in 1928. The sect split into three separate groups: the original, those who followed Irvine's new Omega teachings and those follow Cooney.
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