Workers, Friends, Home Church, The Truth, The Way, Meetings, Gospel, Cooneyites, Christian Conventions, Hymns Old & New
Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name and its Founder, William Irvine

Introduction Index of Chapters
Chapter Links
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

Appendixes

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O Bio Truth?


Chapter 17
Revised January 24, 2018

When did the 2x2 Sect actually start? What event was the starting point?
Ten possible answers

Who started the 2x2 Ministry and Church? Who was the Founder?

Seven possible answers

THE 2x2 SECT: In this book the Author frequently refers to the 2x2 Sect. The term "sect" is used for a nonconformist church; a religious faction united by common interests or beliefs; a religious group that has separated from an established church. This definition well describes the 2x2 Church. In this book the 2x2 Sect is the same group as the Church without a Name and the Friends and Workers Fellowship.

The terms "movement” and “founded” are also used in this book. The newspapers at the turn of the 20th 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 you find the word "founded" offensive, then you might substitute the word “established” or “started.” If the word “church” bothers you, then substitute the word “assembly,” which is the Greek word translated as “church” in the King James Bible Version.

When did the 2x2 Sect actually start? What event was the starting point? There are ten possible answers. It did not all happen at the same time or take form overnight. It took place in stages. As Ed Cooney wrote, "we groped our way." First, the ministry came together, and later, the Fellowship Meetings were added along with baptisms. 

The event that was the starting point was Wm Irvine's first highly successful Revival Meeting at Nenagh, Ireland in 1897; then evolved with the first Sunday Fellowship Meetings held in homes and baptisms by immersions in 1902; then evolved with Irvine uniting and organizing the Workers into one body after which Workers went worldwide in 1903. These major developments took place in a brief span of about six years.

NOTICE: This chapter is NOT about the"spiritual" beginning of the 2x2 Sect. It is how and when the Sect was started on earth by man. There are sufficient documented facts available to obtain a good idea of what took place in the formative years of the 2x2 Sect between 1897 and 1903.

When the early Workers claimed they were not starting anything new, they were referring to the group’s spiritual origin, which started in the first century with Jesus Christ, and who is the foundation all Christians and Christian churches.

Most groups start with an idea (with the 2x2 Sect, it was "Faith Lines") which is developed over time, put into practice and either evolves, diminishes or may disappear. The 2x2 Sect has endured for over a century and has a lenghty history. To properly understand the formation and history of the 2x2 Sect, one must analyze it progressively and intelligently.

Ten possible answers to the questions above are provided below for your consideration.
(Click on the number to go to supporting details)

(1) Was it the first two Revival missions at Nenagh and Rathmolyon, Ireland where more than 70 people were converted by Wm. Irvine? Then it was 1897.
(2) Was it when Wm. Irvine left Faith Mission? Then it was either 1897, 1898, 1899 or 1901.
(3) Was it after the Bicycle Trip to Scotland at the All-Day Meeting December 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 began preaching independently on Faith Lines? Then it was 1899.
(6) Was it when Eddie Cooney went out preaching on Faith Lines? Then it was 1901.
(7) Was it when Todd’s Mission disbanded? Then it was 1901.
(8) Was it when the first Sunday morning fellowship meetings and baptisms began? Then it was 1902.
(9) Was it when Irvine held the consolidation convention at Rathmolyon? Then it was 1903.
(10) Was it around the turn of the 20th century? Then it was from 1897 to 1903.


Details follow below to support each of the dates above.

1. Was it the first two Revival missions at Nenagh and Rathmolyon, Ireland, where more than 70 people were converted by Wm. Irvine? If so, then it was 1897

NOTE: The Nenagh mission turned out to be a remarkable Revival held in 1897 by Wm Irvine and according to John Long and others, Nenagh was where the movement started.  Nenagh is considered to be Irvine's first independent mission. It began in August and continued through the end of 1897 in various locations in S Ireland (Long's Journal, Aug. 1907).  In the Nenagh and Rathmolyon missions nearly all the converts (about 70) volunteered to go preach on Faith Lines. They formed the nucleus of the first group of Workers.

1897 AUGUST – JOHN LONG: "In 1895...while conducting a mission in Kilrush, I met him [Wm Irvine] 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 – 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” (Journal, June 1907). NOTE: 1907 minus 10 years equals 1897.

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 AUGUST – WILLIAM IRVINE: "In Nov. 1896, I was sent to the West of Ireland...After 6 or 7 months there, I got to where the Carrolls were in Nenagh; and there BEGAN the work that has spread so far" (letter to Dunbars, Oct. 13, 1920).

1897, AUGUST – JOHN LONG: “Wm. 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 30 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…" (Journal, Aug. 1897).

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 41 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...” (BW, pp. 91 –92, April 15, 1898).

1897, SEPTEMBER – JOHN LONG: “...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, Co. Meath. Through their instrumentality they got the use of the school house in Rathmolyon for a mission for William Irvine, where 40 persons got converted; most of them afterwards gave up their situations to go fully on the Lord's work…” (Journal, Sept. 1897).

1897 OCTOBER – JACK JACKSON: “...my mind turned to the departure of our brother [Willie Gill] 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: “On hearing of the Revivals in Nenagh and Rathmolyon, Pastor Crookshanks invited William Irvine to have a mission there [Roscrea], when many young people decided for Christ (Journal, Oct. 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 Wm. 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” (Journal Nov. 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" (Funeral Notes for Erling Omdal, Oct. 6, 1987, Eagle Bend, Minnesota*). Garrett Hughes is a deceased American Overseer and a nephew of Willie Gill of Rathmolyon. NOTE: "Ninety years ago" is 1987 minus 90 years equals 1897, which was the beginning. 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.

1897 – EDWARD COONEY: In a 1913 case styled Edward Cooney v. The People Ltd, in the King’s Bench Div., London, Justice Darling asked Cooney if he was the founder of this sect.  Cooney replied (under oath) "No, Wm. Irvine was the first, about 16 years ago. I cast in my lot with him as a fellow-preacher...” (IR, Dec. 18, 1913). NOTE: 1913 minus 16 years equals 1897.

1897 is the starting date used the most in the historical documents. It was used by: Wm. Irvine, John Long, Ed Cooney, Goodhand Pattison, Alfred Trotter, Wilson McClung, Jack Jackson, Garrett Hughe, etc.


2. Was it when Wm. Irvine left Faith Mission? If so, then it was 1897, 1898, 1899 or 1901.
NOTE:
The exact year Irvine left FM has not been established. The last year or two that Irvine was with FM, he was going rogue, which means he was displaying some degree of independence and/or failing to follow an expected script. At the same time Irvine was still associated with FM, he was also preaching on independent lines.

1897, SEPTEMBER – WILLIAM IRVINE:  "I was put out of Faith Mission in September, 1897" (letter to Kerrs, Dec. 4, 1921).

1898–1899 – 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.” (letter to Dunbars, Oct. 13, 1920).

1899–1899 – 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" (IR, June 21, 1906, p. 3). NOTE: This calculates back to the years 1898-1899. Wilson McClung was Overseer of New Zealand for many years.

1901 – DOUG PARKER: "In 1901, Irvine resigned OFFICIALLY from the Faith Mission. George Walker and Matthew Wilson witnessed his formal resignation" (Secret Sect by Parker, p. 6). NOTE: The author has not been able to confirm this resignation took place.

1900, DECEMBER – JOHN LONG: “About that time Wm. 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...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” (Journal, Dec. 1900).

1901 – JOHN G. EBERSTEIN, President of 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(Life of Faith, April 23, 1964, Vol. 88, No. 3898; Who Are the Cooneyites?).

1901 – BRIGHT WORDS, the monthly Faith Mission magazine, shows Wm. Irvine as a FM Pilgrim through December 1900. Beginning in January 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.”


3. Was it after the Bicycle Trip to Scotland at the All-Day Meeting on December 26 at Nenagh? If so, 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” (Apostles Doctrine and Fellowship, p. 524). 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.


4. Was it when the first convention was held at Rathmolyon? If so, then it was 1899.
NOTE:
Subsequent conventions were also held there in 1900, 1901 and 1903.

1899 – WILLIAM IRVINE: “Was put out of Faith mission and had first convention in Ireland 1899” (letter to Dunbars, Oct. 13, 1920).

1899 – WILLIAM CLELAND: “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” (Secret Sect by Parker, p. 96). NOTE: Wm Cleland was a brother to two of Wm Irvine's brothers-in-law.


5. Was it when John Long began preaching independently on Faith Lines? If so, then it was 1899.
NOTE:
In November, 1898, John Long resigned from his position as Methodist Colporteur (Long's Journal, Nov. 1905).

1899, JANUARY 1 – JOHN LONG started preaching independently, 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...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…" (Journal, Jan. 1899).

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....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...I was too quiet for William Irvine, and he was a warrior and an able conversationalist" (Journal, June 1907). NOTE: "ten years ago" was 1897.


6. Was it when Eddie Cooney went out preaching on Faith Lines? If so, then it was 1901.

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” (IR, Dec. 18, 1913). NOTE: 1913 minus 16 years equals 1897. Ed Cooney was under oath when he made this statement.

1954 – PETER COMRIE, brother-in-law of Wm. 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” (Secret Sect, by Parker, p.6).

EDWARD COONEY: "…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, Chap. 3, pp. 19–20).  NOTE:  Irvine was already preaching before Cooney launched out on Faith Lines.


7. Was it when Todd’s Mission disbanded? If so, then it was 1901.

NOTE:
  Wm. Irvine joined Faith Mission 2-1/2 years before the Todds departed in Nov. 1897. They were acquainted.

1901 – G. 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...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 in respect for their chief's leadership, possibly more so than was good for him or them…” (G. P., Account of the Early Days).

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" (BW, May 1903).


8. Was it when the FIRST Sunday morning fellowship meetings and baptisms began? If so, then it was 1902.

COMMENT: The date and location of the very FIRST MEETING is not known for certain. It is common knowledge that the FIRST fellowship meeting in Dublin, Ireland took place over Weir's Hardware Store at 27 Baggot Street, in the home of Wm. C. Weir and his wife, Susan. This may have been the FIRST meeting ever held in Dublin or first in all of Ireland. (View Photograph of Weirs Store.)

1902 – JOHN LONG: "About that time [sometime in 1902] 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" (Journal, July 1902).

1902 or 1903 – G. PATTISON: "Not long after my arrival (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...also in the matter of forming churches, both of which then were a good bit of a surprise to me...I then thought, just another attempt at forming a 'new party' " (G. P., Account of the Early Days, paragraph: Conventions). NOTE: The headings and Footnotes in G. Pattison's Account were added later by others and may not be correct – they were not shown in the original Account.

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.  Thus the "camp meeting" held in 1902 was referring to a fellowship meeting and not to a convention.


9. Was it when Irvine held the consolidation convention at Rathmolyon? If so, then it was 1903.
The 1903 Convention was the third one held in Rathmolyon.

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" (Journal, July 1903).

1903 – GEORGE BEATTIE: "…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. 20, Fn. 2).

1903 – WILLIE CLELAND (brother to two of Irvine’s brothers-in-law): "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 personal communication, Jan. 18, 1955, Secret Sect, p. 20, Fn. 3).


 10. Was it around the turn of the 20th century? If so, then it was between 1897 and 1903.
NOTE: This six year range covers three years in the 19th century and three years in the 20th century. Therefore it is accurate, although somewhat ambiguous, to state that the 2x2 Sect started "at the turn of the 20th century."

1942 – GEORGE WALKER’s 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" (Photo of letter, March 24, 1942).

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 Co. 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..." (Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship by Dr. Cornelius Jaenen, p. 518).

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, MN, Nov. 2, 1986). NOTE: William Lewis, deceased, was a Texas Overseer.


In 1897, John Long recorded details about Wm. Irvine’s first two Revival missions held that year at Nenagh and Rathmolyon, Ireland, from which about 70 converts went out preaching and formed the core of Irvine's first group of Workers. This is a good basis for citing 1897 as their start date.

In 1902-03, the workers began moving their converts out of the churches they had been attending and started to form churches in homes where they assembled on Sundays and took communion. They also began to baptize new converts and to rebaptize Christians. The movement separated from other Christians and was divided into two tiers, Workers and Friends. 

In 1903 Irvine united and organized the rapidly growing group of Workers and their basic tenets of belief and practices were agreed upon at a three week convention held in Rathmolyon. By 1903, they were an organized sect. 1903 is when the inaugural convention was held where they consolidated into a cohesive sect, and it was also the year the Workers first ventured to America.

NOTE: 1897 is the date used the most in historical documents. It is also documented in newspapers and early writings by these early Workers: Wm. Irvine, John Long, Ed Cooney, Goodhand Pattison, Wilson McClung and Jack Jackson. The Author uses 1897 for the start date because John Long and the majority of other historical accounts do so. 

When was the actual 2x2 ministry started or founded? 
Short answer: It was started or founded in Ireland by a Scotsman named William Irvine around the turn of the 20th century.



Who Started the 2x2 Ministry and Church
?
Who was the Founder?

Definition of a Founder

Seven Possible Answers:
(1) Was it started by “a number of people”…?
(2) Was it John Long (1899)
(3) Was it Robert Todd? (1897 - 1901)
(4) Was it Edward Cooney? (1901)
(5) Was it George Walker? (1899)
(6) Was it Jack Carroll? (1897)
(7) Was it William Irvine? (1897)


DEFINITION OF a "FOUNDER"

Those who refer to Wm. Irvine as the "founder" of the 2x2 ministry and church use the word in the context of an "originator." They are not saying that Irvine originated the idea of the apostles traveling through Palestine in pairs; or the idea of Christians meeting for fellowship or worship in homes; or any other true Christian doctrine.  They are saying that Wm. Irvine founded or originated the fellowship of the Friends and Workers as a group or body of people. Irvine also founded or originated the idea that true ministers should imitate some (but not all) the instructions Jesus gave to the Apostles on their limited mission to Israel in Matthew 10. Irvine founded what is known as a "restoration movement." His movement was an attempt to restore the methods of the primitive New Testament church, which he later called an "experiment."


(1) Was it started by “a number of people”…?
George Walker wrote: “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. They were deeply concerned about spiritual things, and became fully convinced that there should be a return to the methods and purposes taught and carried out by Christ and His first disciples. This conviction led to frequent earnest conversations and studies on the subject, which in turn led to religious meetings, and in due time a number of these people went forth to devote their lives to the preaching of the Gospel according to the teaching and example of Christ as given in the New Testament, i.e., "two by two" and without salary or making appeals for financial assistance, putting implicit trust in God and His promise that as they "sought first the Kingdom of God" their natural needs of food and raiment "would be added to them." As a result of this step, many people expressed their desire to be in fellowship with such preachers and this led to regular gatherings together of small assemblies in homes for worship and study of God's word” (George Walker’s letter to U.S. Selective Service, March 24, 1942).

(2) Was it John Long? (1899)
In August 1897, John Long arranged for a place for Irvine to hold a mission at Nenagh, Ireland where the Revival began. John didn't claim to be anything more than a helper to Wm. Irvine. A little over a year and a half later, on January 1, 1899, John began independently preaching on Faith Lines. He wrote: “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 (Journal, June 1907). John Long wasn't the Founder.

(3) Was it Robert Todd? (1897 - 1901)
In November 1896, Robert R. Todd and his wife Jeanie left the Faith Mission to start an independent mission in Ireland, which was commonly called "Todd's Mission." It was disbanded in 1901 when Todd took a job in Liverpool and went on to become a Congregational minister. Afterwards, some of Todd's workers joined Irvine's mission and some joined the Faith Mission. Read more details about R. R. Todd in Chapter 10. Todd wasn't the Founder.

(4) Was it Edward Cooney? (1901)
Cooney wrote: "the man who finally moved me to go to preach was William Irvine.” Was it Edward Cooney? (1901)
(Life & Ministry of Edward Cooney by Roberts, Chap 3, p. 18). 

Edward Cooney’s statement while under oath:  
Question asked by Mr. Justice Darling: "Were you the founder of this sect?"
Cooney: "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
" (IR, Dec. 18, 1913). NOTE: 1913 minus 16 years equals 1897. Wm Irvine was preaching before Cooney joined his group in 1901.  Cooney was not the Founder.

(5) Was it George Walker? (1899)
George Walker was 21 in March 1898, when he first heard Wm. Irvine preach. On April 11, 1898, he decided to join Irvine, reportedly, on a railway station platform in Dublin, Ireland. He became an independent full-time Worker on Faith Lines sometime in 1899. Read more details about George Walker. George Walker wasn't the Founder.

(6) Was it Jack Carroll?
“William Irvine…went to…Nenagh where the REVIVAL BEGAN...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…" (Long's Journal, Aug. 1897). NOTE: Jack Carroll is shown as entering the work in 1904 on the 1905 Workers List.  Jack Carroll wasn't the Founder.

(7) Was it William Irvine? (1897)
Irvine wrote: “I am the one God used altogether--not "most." NO WILLIAM--NO TESTIMONY” (letter to Ed Cooney, March 2, 1923). NOTE: “Testimony” was what Irvine called the 2x2 fellowship.

"I am satisfied that the Testimony was the result of my anointing without any help from others, and in spite of all my so called helpers. For it was a big job to keep them from devouring one another from the beginning. I don’t say this out of vanity or vain glory or in order to despise any who had truly the nature and anointing of God, but I say if I had not been, I don’t see anybody who could or would have done as I did" (letter to Charles and wife, June 24, 1921).

"I can look back with Joy on it all and say that God and I were the only shapers of the whole Way, Truth and Life which so many are so fond to claim as their own.  The work in U.S.A. and Canada was all built on the very little friendships which I had made. Same in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand...It was all God and I from first to last--and all we have seen since has only been like most others going because they were provided for, and a soft imitation of the Early Days. I was as the mainspring and the binder together, which was the real strength of the Testimony. And when I had finished the House, it was to find myself out and with God; and the House in possession of thieves and robbers--as it was in Jesus' day" (letter to Dunbars, Dec. 4, 1922).


Wm. Irvine was the founder, leader and the first according to early workers: Wm. Irvine, John Long, Ed Cooney, Wilson McClung, Jack Jackson; and according to the historical accounts of Goodhand Pattison, Alfred Trotter and John Long.

The year 1897 is the date used most historical documents for Irvine’s first Mission. In 1897 over 70 people professed in the first two Revival Missions Irvine 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.  If Wm. Irvine had not preached the Nenagh revival mission in the manner he did, those workers would not have offered for the work.  Irvine was the first, and after him the workers were added.

The evidence is very convincing that William Irvine was the Founder, and claims of an earlier origin, stretching back to the days of the Apostles are only theories. The 2x2 movement arose around the beginning of the 20th century in Ireland and soon spread throughout the world. Further, Irvine claimed that he was the Founder in his letters.

The theory that the 2x2 sect is of apostolic succession, or that it has existed from the Apostles down to the present-day 2x2s through successive friends and workers has no basis in fact. There has been no evidence found supporting the assertion the Workers were of apostolic succession or from a remnant church (Apostles Doctrine & Fellowship by Dr. Cornelius Jaenen, p. 538). The documented sources used in this book agree in their identification of William Irvine, John Long and Edward Cooney as the leading originators of the nameless 2x2 church; and Irvine's letters contain no suggestion that the sect predated his first mission in Nenagh in August 1897. 

The evidence is sufficient to support the formal statement of the late George Walker, Eastern USA Overseer, made above in 1942 to the U. S. Government that the sect was not a continuation or part of an existing group or religious sect.  He explained how some early workers were studying the scriptures and became concerned about spiritual things while these men were "in the several churches of which they were then members," and they decided to "return" to the methods of Christ and his first disciples (letter to Selective Service, March 24, 1942).

Who do you believe was the founder?

Read other theories of how the sect started.

The Author believes the evidence is sufficient to show that the 2x2 sect started in 1897 with Irvine's first mission at Nenagh, which was the viewpoint of first-hand witness John Long. Going forward in this book, the starting date used will be 1897 or the turn of the 20th century.

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 (*).

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