Revised February 22, 2018
CONDITIONS IN IRELAND AT THE TURN OF THE 20th
CENTURY: The group expanded very rapidly in the first decade, mainly in the small country towns. Conditions in Ireland at that time provided a ripe environment for this growth. Education became mandatory in
1880, and by 1900, the small towns were full of frustrated young men looking for
something more out of life than working behind a counter or a 70-hour week as a farm laborer.
Irvine's initial success may have been due to his being in a fortunate time and place. His style of preaching appealed to those who had anti-clerical attitudes. Most of the early converts were from the north of Ireland, which is not known for its religious tolerance. It has been said: "It is empirically well established that sects proliferate in periods of social unrest." (England in the Nineteenth Century, by D. Thompson, Penguin, Middlesex, 1950, p. 195). Parker provided a peek into the state of affairs at that time:
A person identified as "Within" painted a vivid picture of the divisions the class system created in the churches. He wrote the Editor of the Impartial Reporter:
"William Irvine's sectarian ideas took root at the turn of the century in social and economic conditions that favoured acceptance by many who heard his message. The nineteenth century in Britain was a period of great change in economic and social life when, through the effects of the Industrial Revolution, in which she pioneered the way, changes in the balance between agriculture and industry necessitated the urbanization of large areas, and involved population upheavals…'much of the labor drawn away from the countryside was unemployed. The spread of elementary education (made compulsory in 1880) made them [laborers] more discontented with their lot' so that the 'manual working classes of the new urban society became more conscious of the deprivations and developed institutionalized forms through which they would express them.'
"Although the churches were finding a great indifference to organized religion among the working people there were, concurrent with the rising status of the working man, greater opportunities for lay evangelism, and there was a growth of movements that depended upon the efforts of lay people: Plymouth Brethren, Mormons, Christadelphians, the Salvation Army, Jehovah's Witnesses, the Student Volunteer Movement, the Irish Workers Christian Union and the Faith Mission all arose during the nineteenth century. Revivalism on an intensive scale, from the Primitive Methodists to the great campaigns of Finney, Moody, Pearsall Smith and Torrey had made the earnest lay leader an increasingly common phenomenon. Irvine's teaching excited the imagination of young Christians in the country districts of Ireland, and also appealed to men and women 'living in a drab existence of routine in the towns and suburbs.'
"Young converts eagerly abandoned their strictly limited environments to capture the opportunity that Irvine offered to become preachers, and they were excited by the promise of God's care for them if they were to give up everything….Some felt deeply disappointed in their churches and longed to be free….Converts saw themselves as sincere in their desire to be Good Christians, and claimed to be bringing light into darkness. The beliefs and the type of response made by converts bear witness both to the sectarian character of the movement and to the time of historical origin of the nameless sect when William Irvine raised his voice to protest against the religious beliefs and practice, social conditions and values of the late Victorian period in Britain" (Secret Sect, pp. 4–5).
"How different is all this to what we find in the so-called churches of today. We have the unregenerate multitude meeting in a fashionable building, of course ‘consecrated,’ the monied aristocratic folks in the front seats, the second grade coming next, and aping the style and fashion of the select above them, and the poor behind the door. The latest thing in hats and bonnets are on show, and those that cannot dress to the mark are wise enough to remain at home. You have the dry formal prayers, the fashionable choir, the 15 minutes essay or sermon by the man who is paid to smooth the stubborn text to ears polite, and snugly keep damnation out of sight. The plate is passed round, and the congregation is invited to let their light ‘So Shine,’ which they do by putting on a copper. Everybody knows there is something amiss somehow in this business. It never occurs to them that God has nothing to do nor never had with a parade of the kind" (IR, Sept. 3, 1908).
A person identified as "Watchman" wrote the Impartial Reporter and provided additional insight. He had been searching for the answer to the question, "Is there not a cause?" Why were some leaving the established churches of that day and associating themselves with the Go-Preachers? His honesty regarding the conditions at that time are refreshing and perceptive:
"As a watchman on the walls of Zion, but without the camp, I have been observing for a long time the doings in Crocknacrieve and elsewhere, and again and again I have been forced to ask myself, is there not a cause? Is there not a cause for it in the settled routine forms of worship (Episcopal, Presbyterian and Methodist) that obtain amongst us. We cannot do now with the services that satisfied our parents and grand parents. The sad white washed walls, the cold services, and the long sermons, and the old psalm singing and hymn singing that satisfied the religious needs of a century or half century ago, do not satisfy the present age.
"It must be allowed that there is an endeavour made all round to have our services brighter and shorter. Yet the feeling all round, is that our ministers are wanting in earnestness, that our religion is growing to be somewhat like the religion The Divine Master denounced—a religion without heart, a religion as dry as dust, full of infantile forms, that satisfied no longing of the soul. Our people, even in places and parishes by lonely lakes and mountains, are growing tired of this heartless religion, and so it is coming to pass that our settled congregations are growing small, while those at Crocknacrieve are growing large.
"Priestism, or rather the aping of priestism, is becoming a marked feature with all our ministers. It would be well for themselves and their congregations if they would remember that there was never less priest than Jesus. He who in a certain sense wrote the grandest life of Christ has truly said—‘Never has there been less of a priest than Jesus, never more an enemy of the forms which stifle religion under pretext of protecting it.’
"Then, alas, as time and years go on, our ministers have less of a ‘draw.’ They have more style, they have more dress. They have more of ‘the gay clothing and the gold ring and the goodly apparel’ of St. James, but less of the workman of St. Paul ‘who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’ The staggering school boy reading has too often to be listened to; the rambling ‘ramshackle’ sermon without bodily parts or passion has too often to be endured. In some churches we can say of the sermon, as Johnston said of his dinner at a way side inn, ‘Ill fed, ill cooked, ill kept, ill served.’
"In other Churches thoughtful people have to put up with striplings in ecclesiastical fractions, and when they read a little script no one listens, but all try not to listen. The result of all is, when the services are ended, our people leave such places of worship dull and heavy, far less scriptural in heart, less cheerful in soul than when they entered. It is no marvel that many of our young and middle aged people are glad to find some other meeting place to satisfy their religious needs and longings. See ye to it, for over many churches may be written, ‘Behold your house is left unto you desolate.’
"But it is easier to blame than to praise—easier to find fault than to find a remedy. It is not easy for congregations, elders, Presbyteries, nominators, bishops, &c., to improve very much on the material they have; those with whom the power of appointment lies are often confined to a narrow circle, where there is little light or learning; and as time goes on the inducements are becoming less for able men and able minds to seek the sacred office of the ministry.
"However, one or two things could be done that would tend to more life and spirituality in our churches. First, there could be a more frequent interchange of pulpits, and this would be a large benefit to the ministers as well as to the congregations. Secondly, in every diocese there could be a few itinerant preachers—able men, the memories of whose voice and presence and thoughts would remain long with the congregations. Such are the Redemptorist Fathers in the Roman Catholic Church. They come into parishes and hold their mission for a week or fortnight. They are all gifted men as preachers, and so the memories of them remain long after they leave, and there is a longing for their return" (IR, Aug. 13, 1908, p. 8).
THE YEAR 1903
1903, APRIL: In April, 1903, Irvine became so discouraged with the disorganized state of the Workers that he considered giving up his place as leader and becoming an independent preacher. John Long suggested a plan. He wrote:
"...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...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" (Journal, April 1903).
1903, JULY - THE RATHMOLYON CONVENTION. Acting on John's suggestion, Irvine held what is viewed by some as their inaugural Convention at Rathmolyon, where the 2x2 belief system was born, which would become "the Church without a Name." This convention is documented on the Irish "Early Conventions" list.
"…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" (G. Beattie transcript of personal interview, 1954; Secret Sect, p. 12).
Possibly, at this convention the decision was implemented that Irvine's Workers would not take an official name, unlike Faith Mission. Right from their start, Workers claimed their authority and sect name was Jesus only, although they sometimes referred to themselves as Go Preachers or Tramp Preachers. The Workers united into a single group with Wm. Irvine as their leader and submitted to his leadership, authority and standards. The Workers included John Long, George Walker, George Beattie, Willie Clelland, and others who had already been preaching independently on Faith Lines, some from Todd's Mission, as well as May Carroll from the Faith Mission. While Geo. Beattie said there were 70 Workers who attended, there were 192 total Workers who entered the work between 1899 and 1903 shown on the 1905 Workers List.
Before the Workers left that convention, there was no doubt as to Irvine's principles, standards, procedures, rules, guidelines and values they were to follow. They were clearly established and delivered by Wm. Irvine, but were not written. The Faith Mission had a printed booklet setting out their rules and expectations for their Pilgrims. Since the FM's "piccadilly" rules and discipline had been a source of irritation to Irvine, and were part of the reason he left them, it's not surprising that his standards were not put into writing (letter to Dunbars, Oct. 13, 1920). John Long wrote:
"After that we went to a Convention in Rathmolyon. From that time all the workers began to baptize, and separate their converts; form them into assemblies to meet together on the first day of the week for fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers. Acts 2:42. Also, they appointed bishops, or elders over them. William Irvine emphasized separation but not exclusiveness." (Journal, July 1903).
John Coles, father of sister worker Lily (Lizzie) Coles told a Morning Leader Reporter:
"Two years ago they had a conference in Ireland at which my daughter was present. My daughter told me that they met according to the apostolic teaching in Acts. Everybody, whether he had much or little put it into the common stock: and then the total collection was distributed equally among those present. 'So that it may have been—mind you, I am not sure—that at that time Cooney brought in several thousand pounds.' The conference then separated, each going to his or her duty. 'That,' said Mr. Coles, 'is how they work.'
Mr. Coles added some further details on the financial side. When, he said, they have been on a mission for three weeks, and are about to leave, they call their converts together and say, 'Now we are sitting together at the Lord's table.' They break the bread together, and then they will ask for financial assistance. They will address one of the converts thus: 'Mr. Smith, you spend a shilling a week in tobacco. You’ll have to give up smoking, and give the shilling to the Lord’s work.' Mr. Smith does give up the money, and any more he can spare. Their position is: 'We don't want money from the world or the devil, but from God’s people who have been blessed under our work.' 'And that,' said Mr. Coles, 'is what we mean when we say that God will provide sustenance. I know one man who lost his arm while working on a railway, and he is so enamored of the work that he goes without dinner in order to be able to send the money on to the movement! And I know still another who often does the same thing' " (Morning Leader, June 15, 1906).
1903: VOWS OF CELIBACY. "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; Secret Sect, p. 20, Fn. 3). W. Cleland wrote:
"...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. However, let's not overlook the fact that it had its place in the teaching of the Apostle Paul, as evidenced in 1st Corinthians 7, but I'm very sure the vow or promise was given by several who were ill fitted to observe it, and were never meant to" (W. Cleland, personal communication, Jan. 18, 1955; Secret Sect by Parker, p. 20, Fn. 3).
THE MOVEMENT GREW RAPIDLY: The revival in IRELAND was spreading like wildfire, but growth was slower in Scotland, England and Wales. In Ireland, whole families were converted, and many young family members entered the work. Countless, passionate young workers were eager to spread the good news. Soon there were far too many Workers to remain on the small island of Ireland, and they began sending Workers to other countries. Syd Holt observed: "Ireland is the only country where Workers weren't imported but rather exported." The 1905 Workers List shows an incredible growth in numbers in the early years.
NOTE: This list only includes Workers in/from the British Isles. There were many more Workers recruited in other countries.
FIRST MARRIED WORKER COUPLES: Regardless of the Vow of Celibacy, there were four couples who were married when they offered and were accepted into the work in the Early Days. They are shown on the 1905 Workers List:
1902 Mr. and Mrs. Tom Elliott – had no children - gave up their farm near Enniskillen
1903 Mr. and Mrs. William (Bill) Carroll - had one daughter born in 1901 (May Carroll Schultz)
1903 Mr. and Mrs. Wilson McClung – had no children (IR, June 21, 1906)
1905 Mr. and Mrs. Tom Betty – had 3 sons
Two other married couples entered the work in 1905 but are not shown on the 1905 Workers List (Dicksons and Downies).
A list of workers who were married and their children has been compiled from many sources, both written and verbal, and most listings were verified by more than one source. See: Married Worker List
Did the married workers preach as a pair? Or were they split up and preached with a same sex companion? Was celibacy mandatory for the married workers? Following the married workers on the workers lists through time shows that they preached together most of the time, but not always. Some started out preaching as a married pair, while others married after they were in the work. According to the following report written by an outside reporter, the policy changed from what it was in the Early Days.
"A 'saint' may have his own settled home, but they deem it to be wholly wrong for a 'true preacher' to have a settled home and family. They discourage marriage, and in a subtle way forbid the marriage of their preachers. Originally, those who were married before they were received among them generally separated. The children were given up and the husband and wife were sent out apart, with the other preachers. We now learn that this has been recently somewhat modified. The husband and wife are now allowed to go together. In justification of this they quote, wrest, and grossly misapply the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, "Who is My mother? and who are My brethren?....For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother (Matt. 12:48-50)" (Heresies Exposed, published in 1921; 29 printings by W. M. Rule., Loizeaux Brothers, Neptune, NJ. See Chapter: "The Cooneyites or Go-Preachers and Their Doctrines," pp. 73–78).
Some married workers had children while they were in the Work (Christies had two; Beatties had four; Grahams had five). It seems that celibacy among married workers was not strictly followed.
For a time, there did not appear to be a consistent policy regarding married Workers. It is highly probable this type of decision was left entirely up to Wm. Irvine. However, after he was removed from leadership in 1914, this responsibility fell to the others in leadership, and for a time, no apparent universal policy regarding married workers emerged among the numerous overseers worldwide. Permission to marry or for a married couple to enter the work appeared to be granted or denied by individual Overseers.
Some couples who were already married offered for the work and were accepted. In other cases, the explanation was that some workers "had to marry" in order to be allowed to enter certain countries and take the gospel there. This was the reason given for the marriages of Sandy and Eva Scott to preach in Italy; and John and Annie Micheletos to preach in Greece.
Jack Carroll's cousin, Dave Christie married Sister Worker Emily Wilson in 1923, and Jack allowed them to remain in the work, provided they went to Hawaii. On the 1922 North American Workers List there were six married couples (Klevens, McIllwraths, Dunshees, Doaks, DeGroots and Richters). Two years later on the 1925 List there were nine married couples (Walkers, Gards and Christies were added). Two years later the 1926 North American Workers List shows 12 married couples (Grahams, Byes and Browns were added). Jack Carroll’s blessing on the Christies' marriage appeared to have a rippling effect for the three following years.
There is a similarity in the situations of the Carrolls, McClungs, Grahams, Micheletos to the Faith Mission policy regarding marriage. The Faith Mission allowed their Superintendents to marry and stay in one place for several years and have the oversight of a number of itinerant Faith Mission Pilgrims or workers. However, the Faith Mission “Pilgrims” as they called their preachers/evangelists were not allowed to be married. A Pilgrim had to leave the Faith Mission if he/she became engaged or married. Similar to the Faith Mission, the Carrolls, McClungs, Grahams, Micheletos were all Overseers (a synonym for “superintendents”) of Workers and were all married.
CHILDREN: It seems that while Wm. Irvine was in leadership, he required that children of married workers be left behind when their parents went out preaching. After Irvine was no longer the world overseer, some married worker couples kept their children with them some or most of the time they were preaching (Beatties, Carrolls and Christies). An Irish reporter wrote: "The Pilgrims...do not concede that you serve God where you are placed; you must leave your place and family and go out with them...Their idea is that a Saint cannot remain in the world but must go out to preach the (i.e. their) gospel and hunt for saints...to this end they give up their situations ...a few others have given up a lucrative business connection. Some have sold their farms" (IR, Jan. 29, 1903).
Bill and Maggie Carroll sailed to Australia in 1913, and took their daughter, May, with them. Wm. Irvine required the Beatties leave their oldest son (18 months old) with someone else when they went into the work in 1911; however, from historical accounts about the Beatties, it seems that their other three children remained with them some or most of the time they were preaching. The difference may have been due to the removal of Wm. Irvine from leadership in 1914, which was three years after the Beatties entered the work.
Ex-worker Paul Abenroth wrote of a conversation he had with an elderly lady, Mrs. Thonney of Walla Walla, Washington. Although she had never met Willie Jamieson, she remembered his full name and this story which happened over 100 years ago. Paul suggested that because the incident was sufficiently shocking, most people with families would find it memorable enough to be recounted many years later:
"The elder Mrs. Thonney (whose maiden name was Klassen) related to me the following story. Even though it happened before she was born she never forgot it, because her parents, the Klassens, often told her and her siblings about it. In 1906, Willie Jamieson arrived in Paso Robles, California, where the Klassen family lived. Willie asked if he could stay with the family a while, and the Klassens invited him to do so. At this time Klassens had one young child who was Mrs. Thonney's older sister. While Willie was staying with them and preaching, he tried to talk the Klassens into leaving their young child in the care of someone else and go out preaching.
“In time, the Klassens rejected Willie's preaching, not only because they found his suggestion of child abandonment so distasteful, but also because, as they expressed it, they 'did not discern in his preaching the voice of the Shepherd.' Willie became visibly angry with the Klassens when his overtures to them were refused. Many years later, after the Klassen family had relocated to southeastern Idaho, Willie Jamieson stopped in to visit them to see if they had changed their mind and might be favorable toward coming into fellowship with the friends and workers. They let Willie know their minds had not changed."
While he was the head worker of British Columbia/Alberta, Robert Graham married sister worker Maude Pryor, who was 20 years younger than he. They had five children and left the work sometime after they began having children–after 1929). While they were both in the work, Erne and Finney Punke married, as did George and Ella Johnson, Joe and Grace Brown and Dave and Emily Christie.OVERSEERS NO LONGER ALLOWED TO MARRY: In the early 1930’s, the decision was made that an Overseer could not marry and serve as an Overseer. The Overseers who were already married were allowed to remain Overseers, but there would be no more married Overseers. This decision may have been reached at the July 19-21, 1930 World Conference held at West Hanney, England, attended by 16 Overseers.
Reportedly, sometime between 1932 and 1937, Jack Carroll made it known that he wanted to marry sister worker Linda Heyes from Tasmania, Australia. He wanted the Overseers to make an exception for them to the rule that Overseers could not marry, but his request was denied. Jack was told that if they married, he could no longer be an Overseer; however, they could continue preaching as an ordinary married Worker couple. Jack remained Overseer until his death in 1957; Linda passed away in 1943.
About twenty years later, at least by 1952, a new policy was made that Workers could not marry and remain in the work. Chester Sweetland and Clara DenHerder dated before they both entered the work. They were married on September 3, 1952, while both were in the work and expected to continue preaching, but were not allowed to do so. A former roommate of Clara wrote: "Chet and Clara's love for each other won the battle, and they married. They were told they couldn’t be workers anymore. This was the first thing that caused Dr. Rittenhouse and Wm. Sweetland to question 'the way' " (Kay Arvig Downs' letter to Kathy Lewis, Sept. 2, 1992). Jack Carroll refused to allow the Sweetlands to remain in the work.
Dr. Walter Rittenhouse and Will H. Sweetland (father of Chester Sweetland) heard the workers in the 1920s and left their respective churches to become a part of the workers' fellowship. According to Kay Arvig Downs:
"They lived in San Diego and were thought of by everyone in the 2x2s as THE BEST of all the SAINTS and were right there next to the oldest and highest worker, who was then Jack Carroll over all the West Coast area. It was probably because they had lots of money. One or both of these men owned the property and lake at Hayden Lake, Idaho convention grounds, just a few miles from the big Lake Coeur d'Alene, near Spokane. Dr. Rittenhouse had a mansion of a home on a hill with a long winding driveway to it, hidden in acres of fruit trees, all in (now) the heart of the San Diego city area. Sweetland's home was more modest" (Kay Arvig Downs' letter to Kathy Lewis, Sept. 2, 1992*).Dr. Rittenhouse and Will Sweetland could not see a good reason why Will’s son Chester and Clara could not remain in the Work as a married couple. Jack Carroll had a married brother in the work. Jack had also allowed his cousin, Dave Christie and Emily Wilson (both workers at the time) to remain in the work in 1923, and publicly endorsed their marriage from the Milltown WA Convention platform. Yet, Chester Sweetland and Clara Den Herder were not allowed to continue in the Work after their marriage in 1952.
"Before they knew anything about 'the truth,' Dr. Rittenhouse (the older) and Wm. Sweetland (in mid-life or youth) met each other and became close friends via business, land purchase, etc. It was Dr. Rittenhouse who had the first money and Sweetland was his assistant….When I met them in 1939, they were highly respected.…They had joined them earlier…thinking that the workers' 'way' was nearest right….These men were wealthy and the workers all over the West side of the U.S. depended highly on their support" (Kay Arvig Downs letter to Kathleen Lewis, Oct. 22, 1992*).
Rittenhouse and Sweetland didn't view Jack's denial to Chester and Clara as being "scriptural or reasonable," and began debating scripture and practices with the workers on this and other subjects, fully expecting that the errors would be corrected by those in charge. However, this was not to be. Rittenhouse and Sweetland reminded Jack Carroll of his earlier comments on the subject:
"We also recall your comments at Milltown in 1923 relative to Dave and Emily Christie’s marriage. 'There is a difference between I Cor. 3 & 4, and Chapter 9. If Chapters 3-4 deal with the marks of true ministers, then Chapter 9 deals with the rights and liberties of true ministers.' Further, in your sermon at Milltown you said, 'We must be true to what God has revealed, and recognize the rights and liberties which are the heritage of all God’s servants. We cannot and will not therefore, refuse them a place in this ministry or the right to speak from this platform.' In the light of these and other statements made by yourself and older brethren, we cannot conceive how you, Jack, dare to distort I Cor. 9:5 now, to fit a new man-made rule. This ruling has no parallel, except to that of the priests and nuns of the Catholic Church" (Rittenhouse and Sweetland letter to Jack Carroll, Willie Jamieson & Brethren, July 16, 1954).
“For fourteen years, Emily Wilson has been one of the most faithful and unselfish workers on the Coast, has given those years ungrudgingly to all in true service, and we hope she will not lose a single friend because of this step. David Christie has had the seal of God in other fields, and we trust he will have the seal of God in his labors in the Hawaiian Islands....Lest some should become unduly alarmed because of what has been said, it may be well to say that over 95% of workers in every field voluntarily remain unmarried for the gospel's sake. Less than 5% claim the right to marry, which Paul claimed in I Corinthians 9” (Click Here to read Jack Carroll's full sermon at Milltown, Washington).
When progress was not being made, Rittenhouse and Sweetland carefully composed several typed letters to him and other Workers. Click Here to read letters. Jack held fast to his decision. Eventually, Dr. Rittenhouse and Will Sweetland left the church greatly disappointed and never returned.
It appears that sometime during the 29 years between 1923 and 1952, the decision was made not to allow any additional married worker couples to enter the work or marry each other–in Jack Carroll's territory and possibly worldwide, but there were a few exceptions made through the years. It's possibly this new ruling was connected with the disapproval of the lifestyle of married Overseer Bill Carroll, who passed away in 1953 and the Guildford Report (See details in Chapter 34).
With this change in policy, the other married worker couples were "grandfathered" in; i.e. they were allowed to remain in the Work. When their spouse died, some surviving spouses continued in the Work. By 1960–70, nearly all the early married workers had retired. Martin and Betty Medica, who labored in the Caribbean, were the last married worker couple in the world. View their Photo. Betty passed away March 12, 2012. Throughout the world, the practice of allowing married Workers to preach has been entirely phased out. Workers could no longer choose to exercise their right as expressed by Paul in 1 Cor. 9:5,“Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?”
The decision not to allow any additional married Worker couples to preach troubled some Friends and Workers and raised questions. If married Workers were not “right,” then how does that affect their converts? Some questions asked were: Are the Friends in Hawaii “really saved” since they professed through married Workers Joe and Grace Brown; or Dave and Emily Christie? Some viewed the married Workers as lesser Friends who might not even be a part of the same fold. Also, sad to say, it has been reported that some of the married Worker couples were looked down upon, treated as “less than,” and shunned by some of the Friends and Workers. Disapproval of Workers marrying was evident when monetary support was withdrawn from Workers in foreign fields who married while they were in the work. When Ern Punke married Finney (both were Workers), “some wanted him kicked out of that ministry…and it was long years before he was invited home to Australia.” Ern’s brother appealed to George Walker and Ern was finally brought back to Australia for a home visit (letter by Ron Campbell, undated).
If the current worker shortage continues, perhaps the workers will reconsider and allow married Worker couples to preach again.
In 1903, (34) more Workers entered the work; 20 brothers and 14 sisters, bringing the total number of Workers to 85. They were (Brothers): R. Bullock, G. Buttimer, D. Cameron, Wm. Carroll, Tom Clarke, Jack Corcoran, T. Craig, John Doak, G. Doherty, J. Fraser, T. Haggart, Tom Lyness, W. McClung, Harry McNeary, Harry Oliver, J. Patrick, J. Patterson, Alf Reading, Frank Scott, W. Weir; (Sisters): May Carroll, Mrs. W. Carroll, J. Chapman, Lily Coles, M. Gownes, P. Hodgins, Mrs. A. McClung, T. Moore, M. Patton, Alice Pipe, Lizzie Sergent, M. Skerritt, Annie Smith, A. Stanley
1903 - MORE FAITH MISSION WARNINGS ISSUED: In Bright Words, Govan stated the FM did not endorse or approve of the work of Irvine and his workers, nor were they under FM's control and direction and that they differed widely on some points:
"We regret that it seems needful, owing to confusing statements that have been made, to state plainly that we have no responsibility for the work carried on in Ireland and elsewhere by Mr. Irvine and his fellow workers. Having little organisation or arrangement whereby to distinguish them, the agents of this anonymous work have in some places been mistaken for our Faith Mission pilgrims, and misleading references have in consequence appeared in the public press. While we honour the zeal and devotion of these workers and believe them to be sincere and single in purpose, their lines of work differ essentially from those of the Faith Mission, as an unsectarian agency, and are such as we could not endorse or approve" (BW, May, 1903).
About six months later, Govan wrote: "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 organization 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.
"...the organization and principles of the movement are so uncertain, and some of the workers so untrained and inexperienced that there is considerable room for such actions that must lead to confusion and misunderstanding. Personally, we seek to maintain, in connection with this matter, the spirit of Philippians 1:18,19, and pray that every true-hearted servant of the Lord may be much used for the salvation of souls; but for the sake of the work God has committed to us, this explanation seems necessary. No workers can be said truly to belong to the Faith Mission, unless they acknowledge our direction and adhere to the aims and principles set forth in our official pamphlet" (BW, Dec. 1903), (BW, Jan. 1904).
You have also recently made a ruling relative to workers who marry and desire to continue in the ministry. You state that to marry is proof of a diminished sacrifice and a limited service, and is what you consider to be a change of status, not acceptable to "Christian Conventions" administration. Such reasoning is obviously neither scriptural nor reasonable. God alone can measure degrees of sacrifice and will determine rewards accordingly. Compulsory celibacy is commonly recognized as the soil upon which immoral conduct and behavior thrives. To make such a ruling is clearly in conflict with God's laws and human rights, to say nothing of our constitutional liberties. This sort of dictatorial regimentation has resulted in the shipwreck of many lives which your records will prove. It is exactly the opposite to what the scripture teaches and what we heard and believed from your lips thirty years ago.
The author views the 1903 Rathmolyon Convention as the organizational meeting of the Workers where the workers were united in a movement or Sect which was started earlier.
Telling the Truth has a hard copy of the documents, books, newspaper articles, references, etc. used in this book. Any exceptions are noted with an asterisk (*).
Go to Chapter 17