Irish Christian Workers Union
possibly also known as
Irish Christian Missionary Workers Union
Irish Christian and Missionary Workers Union
* * * * *
Walter Duff, Sr. Founder of the
Irish Christian Workers Union, 1898
American Christian Workers Union
In 1900, John G. Govan, Founder of Faith Mission commented: "Since we started in Ireland some seven or eight years ago, several agencies have followed suit on somewhat similar lines. A Mr. Duff has a mission in the north with a number of workers, and in the south there is the mission conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Todd, formerly workers with us" (Bright Words March, 1900).
In 1903, Mr. Govan wrote: “The organisation under the superintendence of Mr. Duff, also, in the north of Ireland, is to be recognised as quite distinct from our own. While we aim at loving fellowship with all who serve the 'one Lord' in the 'one Spirit,' it is due to our workers and subscribers that we should make these explanations” (Bright Words, May 1903, p. 102)
Walter Duff was the son of a wealthy parents, James and Mary Duff, who owned linen and woolen mills in County Tyrone, Ireland. Walter was one of three sons who were the third generation of three sons expected to carry on the family business. They Duff family were faithful members of the church, and he began to follow the Lord in 1892. Walter attended University in England.
When Walter announced to his family that he felt called to the ministry, his father attempted to dissuade him, saying, “Walter we need you in this business. If you will just stay with us, the firm will pay to keep two missionaries in China for your lifetime. They will be able to accomplish twice as much as you could.” But Walter refused, saying that he would not know what the missionaries were doing, that God had called him personally and he must go. Walter entered Bible School in Glasgow, Scotland and became a minister in 1891. In March 1901, he married Matilda Hamilton, an Irish woman. In his lifetime, Walter Duff was a pastor, evangelist and teacher. He preached in Ireland for 20 years, and another 33 years in America. He passed away in 1947 and his wife in 1957 (Evangeline – A Story of Faith by Bette Nordberg, 1996; pp. 23, 16, 115).
In 1898, seeking a way to more effectively reach people, Walter organized the Christian Workers Union for people in Ireland (often abbreviated as CWU), aka the Irish Christian Workers Union. He later organized the American Christian Workers Union. He instructed and trained young men and women to become evangelists, providing them with opportunity to preach throughout the world.
Walter Duff’s daughter Helen wrote: “Father always had a great heart-concern for those around him who were still without Christ. He wanted to multiply himself to reach them. So, as young people received the Saviour at his various meetings, he began to train them for the ministry through a short-term Bible study program with work experience included. He would rent one of the large residences in an area, with fifteen or more bedrooms as his home. Then he would fill it with these young people and bring in some of the outstanding Bible teachers of his day. They would have classes each morning and afternoon, then go out with horses and buggies or on bicycles to hold evening meetings in the school houses and lodge halls in surrounding communities.
“Later, my father organized his work into what was known as the Irish Christian Workers Union. This was in the late 1890s. Father also purchased tents in which to hold his evangelistic meetings and soon had eight of them—one for each county in Northern Ireland. The name of Walter Duff became a household word.
"Hundreds of young people (both men and women) were trained for Christian service by Father, and many went out as missionaries to all parts of the world. In fact, it is interesting to note that instead of having just two missionaries in China for his lifetime, Father trained young people who went as missionaries and ministers to every continent in our world!” (The Story Goes On by Helen Duff Baugh, 1984 published by Stonecroft Inc.)
The CWU was not a church or sect, but an inter-denominational evangelical Christian mission with the goal of saving souls and to help build up the faith of Christians. Like the Faith Mission, CWU was an inter-denominational mission— not a church or sect. They did not take the place of a church affiliation. In fact, their members were required to be members of a local church. CWU members met together in halls they built or bought that were located predominantly in Protestant towns and cities of Northern Ireland. Their buildings were called CWU Halls. Each CWU was independent, and in some cases were unknown to one another, since they had no headquarters. The best known CWU was probably the Bangor Christian Workers Union, located in Co. Down, N. Ireland.
For the first couple decades in the 20th century, there were a number of isolated similar unions carrying various names in Ireland. In 1924, the Christian Workers Unions in Ireland and some other independent Irish missions merged into the Irish Alliance of Christian Workers’ Unions. Rev. W. P. Nicholson is considered the founder of this organization which continues to this day. Christian Workers Unions were “formed to conserve the results and carry on the work” after evangelists moved on to another area. This was especially helpful in small rural areas where there were no churches. A good many Mission Halls were run by such bodies as the Faith Mission and the Christian Workers’ Union, as well as independent groups run by individuals who sought to maintain a Gospel witness in areas where there was none.
Wm. Latimer wrote that Walter Duff was connected with “another association, founded about 1898, and known as the Irish Christian and Missionary Workers' Union…managed on the same principles [as Faith Mission], and aims at leaving behind a permanent organization wherever it has held a successful mission” (A History of the Irish Presbyterians by William Thomas Latimer pg 496).
Helen (Duff) Baugh wrote: “Many of the young men who had trained with Father went off to America. Soon letters began arriving urging Father to come over. ‘There is much opportunity here,’ they would assure him. By this time there were four children in the Duff family: Helen, the first born, Evangeline, Walter, Jr., and Olive. Father had preached in his beloved Ireland for twenty years. All his family were in Ireland, and it would be no easy task to leave them, as well as to take a wife and four children to a strange land. After much prayer and discussion between them, Father and Mother came to the monumental decision that the family would move to America.
“In the custom of the day, plans were made for Father to come to America first; then when he was settled, we would join him. When the large signs began appearing everywhere advertising the ‘unsinkable Titanic,’ Father immediately booked passage for the family and he set sail for America on another ship. But life without Father was not easy and six months was a long time to wait to see him. So dear Mother, under the Lord’s direction, I’m very sure, changed her bookings and arrived in this new world two weeks early – while the famous Titanic went to a watery grave. God in control? Yes, God had His hand on the Duffs, an unusual family with work to do for Him.” (The Story Goes On by Helen Duff Baugh, 1984 published by Stonecroft Inc.) Quoted by permission.
The Irish Christian Workers Unions continued in Ireland without Mr. Duff, who moved to America in 1911. In 1912, his family joined him. In 1914, the family moved to Portland, Oregon, where he became pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church. Walter wanted his children, now numbering five, to be reared in a suburban area. He bought two acres in Gladstone, Oregon, a Portland suburb, adjoining the beautiful Chautauqua Park and built a home he named Duffmont (The Story Goes On by Helen Duff Baugh, 1984, p.9). All five of their children were involved in Christian ministry.
The Christian Workers Magazine, February 1920, ran this notice: “Scotch-Irish Christian Workers Union - Mr. Walter Duff, Bible teacher and evangelist who founded this union in 1898, desires the name and addresses of its former members to be mailed to him at Gladstone, Ore., promising to send them its monthly paper. To accommodate him and them we are inserting this paragraph.”
In 1937, Walter Duff Sr. began publishing the “Monthly Evangel,” a magazine designed to publicize and support the growing number of evangelistic teams he sent out. He titled his organization “The American Christian Workers Union,” after its Irish predecessor. The Christian Workers Magazine, February 1920, ran this notice: “Scotch-Irish Christian Workers Union - Mr. Walter Duff, Bible teacher and evangelist who founded this union in 1898, desires the name and addresses of its former members to be mailed to him at Gladstone, Ore., promising to send them its monthly paper. To accommodate him and them we are inserting this paragraph.”
Author of The Story Goes On, 1984
The oldest Duff daughter, Helen Mary Monzies Duff (1903-1996) married Elwood Baugh on January 23, 1929. They had two
children, Eva May and Gordon. In 1937, the old farm home of Helen (Duff) Baugh in Wonder, Oregon, became the headquarters for the American Christian Workers Union (Evangeline - A Story of Faith, p. 71). Later she founded Stonecroft Ministries, Kansas City, Missouri. Helen was the author of The Story Goes On, 1984
Daughter Alexandra Evangeline Duff (1904-1977) married Archie McNeill on Jan. 28, 1936, son of famous Scottish preacher John McNeill. They became one of the American CWU's many teams. They founded the Canon Beach Conference Center. They had two daughters, Helen Jean McNeill who married Charles Steynor from Bermuda, and
Isabelle Heather who married Dale Goodenough. Heather assumed the Directorship of Canon Beach Conference Center from her parents, which is still operating.
Evangeline wrote her mother-in-law living in Edinburgh, Scotland: “You asked about the work which we are planning to do…Throughout the Northwest there is much need in rural communities and small villages of the preaching of the gospel. Even in Northern California, we have found many, many places where there is not a service of any kind where one might hear a gospel message. It is to these needy fields we plan to go” (Evangeline - A Story of Faith, p. 65).
Son, Walter Whitfield D. V. Duff, Jr. (1906-1993) married Edith Mary Dunn on June 12, 1936. They had three children, Priscilla Ann, Mary Margaret and Walter David. In 1948 Walter Jr. founded and operated the Village Missions which supplied Christian leadership to villages and rural communities across America for 45 years.
Daughter Olive Mildred Rosemund Duff (1908-2007) married Charles Huddleston Jan. 28, 1930 and resided in California. They had three sons, Charles, Stanley and Bruce. occupation?? %%
Son Haldane James Duff (1913-1992) married Ethel Marie Olson on January 12, 1967. He dDirected a conference ministry in the Park of the Pines, Seattle, Washington.
The Author believes the above is sufficient evidence to show that the father of Helen and Evangeline Duff was one and the same as Walter Duff who founded the Irish Christian Worker Union and also the same “Mr. Duff” in Northern Ireland that Mr. Govan wrote about.
WHO WAS REV. WILLIAM. P. NICHOLSON?
William Patteson Nicholson (better known as W.P.), the son of John G. and Ellen (Campbell) Nicholson was born April 3,1876, in Cottown, Bangor, County Down, N. Ireland. His first wife was Ellison Marshall, with whom he had three children before her death. Hethen married Fanny Elizabeth Collett on June 21, 1928, in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. He was the father of Ellison C. (Nicholson) Grant, Jessie Marshall (Nicholson) Rider and Wm. Charles Alexander Nicholson.
Rev. Nicholson was educated in Belfast and attended two sessions at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow and became a Presbyterian minister. In the 1920s, Rev. Nicholson one of the most noted evangelist in his generation, well known for his “forthright brand of evangelism.” Newspaper after newspaper wrote of his revival campaigns where 100s and 1000s attended as a wave of religious enthusiasm swept through Northern Ireland. He was nicknamed “the Tornado of the Pulpit.” For 50 years he preached revival campaigns in many parts of the world. He died October 29, 1959, aged 83 in Co. Cork, Ireland.
Rev. W. P. Nicholson founded the Irish Alliance of Christian Workers’ Unions, which organization exists to this day. “The Alliance is strictly non-sectarian; it is wholly interdenominational. It is not opposed to, but is intended to be a complement to the existing work of the Churches. An important condition of membership to a CWU is that members must also be members of a recognized evangelical Church. The primary object of a Christian Workers’ Union is to provide a common platform upon which all believers may unite in whole-hearted aggressive effort for Christ, irrespective of denominational distinctions or differences. Their motto was 'One in Christ'” (To God be the Glory – The Personal Memoirs of Rev. William P. Nicholson by Mavis Heaney, p. 110).
The Christian Workers Magazine, February, 1920
Evangeline – A Story of Faith by Bette Nordberg, 1996
Biography of Evangeline (Duff) McNeill and the development of the Canon Beach Conference Center in Oregon
Published by: Canon Beach Conference Center Inc., Canon Beach, OR; Frontier Publishing, Seaside, OR, 1996
The Story Goes On by Helen Duff Baugh, 1984
Stonecroft Publications, Kansas City, Missouri
One Woman, One Faith, One Vision (Updated version of biography of Helen Duff Baugh)
To God be the Glory – The Personal Memoirs of Rev. William P. Nicholson by Mavis Heaney
Ambassador Publications, Belfast, N. Ireland, 1997
Emerald House, Greenville, SC USA
Evangelical Times by Adam Loughridge, 1996
A History of the Irish Presbyterians by William Thomas Latimer
May be read online in Google Books, p. 496