Appendix FPosted June 24, 2016
THE FAITH MISSION
2 Drum Street Gilmerton
Edinburgh EH17 8QG
Principal: Rev. C. N. Peckham, B.A., M.Th
29th. May, 1991.
Mrs. Cherie Kropp
Re: William Irvine.
Dear Mrs. Kropp
In reply to your request for information concerning William Irvine’s connection with the Faith Mission, William Irvine joined the Faith Mission in l895, and after working in Scotland, came across to Ireland probably around May of 1896. The Faith Mission was founded by Mr. J. G. Govan in 1886, as an evangelistic agency for the villages of Scotland, and the work was extended to Ireland in 1892. At some time in 1897, Mr. Irvine went to work in the south of Ireland, where he is referred to in our magazine Bright Words as superintending the work there from 1898 to 1900. The last reference to him as such, is the issue of Nov/Dec. 1900.
There is reference in what we call "Location of Pilgrims" to a mission in Rathmolyn beginning Oct 10, 1897, by William Irvine following which he went to Co. Tipperary.
In the magazine issue for June/July, 1898 the report of the work by Mrs. Pendreigh appeared as follows:
"Since coming across to.. the south of Ireland, we have thoroughly enjoyed the work.. In some places the opposition was great, but by prayer and patient endurance battles were fought and won... During some missions several (Roman Catholics) were brought in, and I believe savingly converted.. .most of the work has been in and around Co. Tipperary, and one or two fully successful missions in Kings and Queen's Counties.. .I don't think any of us could go away with a grudge in our hearts.. .as our D.P. (District Pilgrim) has the happy plan of making us cross hands.. and sing some chorus as a pledge of being true to God and to one another."
The D.P. referred to was, of course, William Irvine, and Mrs. Pendreigh later became one of his most devoted followers and remained so all her life.
In the August, 1898 issue of our magazine, William Irvine's name appears for the first time as superintending the work in the south.
"A brief visit to Co.Tipperary occupied the remainder of my stay across the channel...with Pilgrims Pendreigh and McLean I attended five meetings at Nenagh...it was a joy to meet so many bright and sympathetic children of God in that part of the country, and to see so much satisfactory fruit remaining from the missions held by Pilgrim Irvine and the sisters during the past 12 months."
In 1898 on the list of workers in Mr. Govan's report of the work, Mr. Irvine's name appears as superintending the work in the south of Ireland.
In 1899, Mr. Govan writes, "As far as the south of Ireland is concerned, there has not been much work."
In March 1990, issue of Bright Words, Mr. Govan wrote "Pilgrim Irvine is in the south of Ireland. We have not had regular reports from him lately." [Note: typographical error - the date should be March 1900]
The last time William Irvine's name is given as superintending the work in the south is in the annual report for 1900, where Mr. Govan writes as follows:
"The work in the south of Ireland has not been reported...much of the time of the Pilgrim in charge having been taken up with the building of movable wooden halls, nearly all of which are worked on independent lines and workers unconnected with and not under the direction of the Faith Mission."
In the August 1901 magazine issue Mr. Govan writes:
"When in Ireland, I came into close contact with a movement that has been going on for a year or two. A number of young people are going out on quite independent lines.. while there may be much that is good in the devotion and earnestness of those who thus leave all.. .a number of the features of this movement do not commend themselves to us... some have mistaken them for pilgrims, so we find it necessary to say that the Faith Mission is not responsible for this movement."
In September, 1901, he wrote in the Faith Mission Magazine:
"During the year several have dropped out of our list of workers. Pilgrim Irvine has been working on independent lines, chiefly in Ireland. Then quite recently Pilgrim Kelly has resigned, and also aligned himself with these independent workers."
Around the end of 1901, a small leaflet was issued titled "To Correct Misunderstandings." A portion of it reads as follows:
"As we continue to receive word that certain itinerant workers (associated with Mr. Irvine and Mr. Cooney) frequently pass under the title of "Pilgrims" or "Faith Workers", we wish it to be observed that the name "Pilgrim" was adopted for our evangelists from the formation of the Faith Mission in 1886, and that the workers of this new association differ very widely..in aims, principles, and methods from those of our Mission". (Life of Faith, April 23, 1964)
There is no reference to William Irvine in the volume of 1902, but in the magazine issue for May, 1903, the following statement appears:
"We regret that it seems needful, owing to the 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 organization or arrangements whereby to distinguish them, the agents of this anonymous work have been mistaken for our Faith Mission pilgrims, and misleading references have appeared in the public press."
From these references, you can see that William Irvine definitely did not leave the Faith Mission to take over or become a part of an existing ministry. There certainly was no movement of that kind existing over here before Irvine's break-away movement. As William Irvine spent some time in the Faith Mission before leaving it, there is no possibility that he founded the Cooneyite sect before 1886 as it was in October 1886, that John George Govan began the Faith Mission.
Irvine went to the south of Ireland in 1897 and his superintendency must be understood in the light of the conditions there then. His work, and that of the few workers in that area, was merely that of holding pioneer missions. He was not a "superintendent" in the sense that we know that term to mean today. In fact he was only in the Faith Mission for about three years before leaving to work on independent lines. He was separated from the main flow of Christian work in the north, and from the burgeoning Faith Mission work in Scotland. Because he worked in such isolation in an extremely Roman Catholic county not enjoying fellowship in any great measure with other members of the Faith Mission he was able to deviate from the normal practice, methods and teachings of the Faith Mission.
I certify the above information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and ability, so far as the records of Faith Mission are concerned. I hope this information will be helpful to you, and if I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to write again.
Rev. C. N. Peckham.
View copy of the original letter in TTT Photo Gallery. Click "Next" to go to Pages 2 and 3.