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The Journal of John Long
About the Early Days
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Read about the Early Days
1893 - 1965
1966 to Present

Letterhead used by workers titled Christian Conventions

Perry, Oklahoma Conv, 1942

Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name and its Founder, William Irvine

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Appendix F

Posted March 9, 2016

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, Mr. Govan 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)

Who was "Mr. Duff?"

Walter Duff was associated 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.” (Source: A History of the Irish Presbyterians by William Thomas Latimer pg 496; book may be read online in Google books).

Walter Duff was the son of a wealthy family who owned linen and woolen mills in County Tyrone, Ireland. His parents were James and Mary Duff. Walter was one of three sons who were the third generation of three sons to carry on the family business. The Duff family was faithful members of the church and their business firm also supported the church. Walter attended University in England and was expected to carry on in the family business.

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 wouldn’t know what the missionaries were doing and that God had called him personally and he must go.

Walter entered Bible School in Glasgow, Scotland, and became a minister in 1891, and preached in Northern Ireland for 20 years. Seeking a way to more effectively reach people, he organized the Irish Christian Workers Union in 1898. This was the Christian Workers Union for Irish people in Ireland, often abbreviated as CWU. Later Walter Duff would organize the American Christian Workers Union. He instructed and trained young men and women to become evangelists and gave them the opportunity to preach throughout the world. He married a young Irish woman named Mathilda Hamilton in March of 1901.

The CWU members met together in halls they built or bought and were found predominantly in the Protestant towns and cities of Northern Ireland. They were not a church or sect, but an inter-denominational evangelical Christian mission who wanted to save souls and help build up the faith of Christians. Like the Faith Mission, the CWU did not take the place of a church affiliation, and their members were required to be members of a local church.

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 1890’s. 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!”

“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 Americas 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.” (Taken from The Story Goes On by Helen Duff Baugh, 1984 by Stonecroft Inc. Used by permission)

They did not hear of the Titanic sinking and the loss of 1200 lives until they reached Boston. Walter Duff went to America in 1911, and his family joined him in 1912. The family moved to Portland, Oregon in 1914 where Rev. Duff became the pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. Daughter Helen (Duff) Baugh tells on page 9 of her book of her father’s purchase of 2 acres in Gladstone Oregon. He wanted his children (now numbering five, as another son Haldane had been born in America in 1913) to be reared in a suburban area, instead of in the city of Portland, Oregon. Their property adjoined the beautiful Chautauqua Park. He built a home there and named it DUFFMONT. To get to Portland, one had to walk a mile and a half and then ride the streetcar into the city.

The Irish Christian Workers Unions continued in Ireland without Mr. Duff. Like the Faith Mission, they were a mission, not a church or sect. They were inter-denominational. Each Christian Workers Union (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. Their buildings were called CWU Halls.

There were a number of isolated similar unions carrying various names in Ireland, and in 1924, the Christian Workers Unions in Ireland merged with some other independent Irish missions into The Irish Alliance of Christian Workers’ Unions. Rev. W. P. Nicholson is considered the founder of this organization which exists to this day. Christian Workers Unions were be “formed to conserve the results and carry on the work” after the evangelist moved 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.

Who was Rev. Wm P. Nicholson? William Patteson Nicholson (better known as just W.P.) was born in 1876 in Bangor, County Down, in the North of Ireland. He married Fanny Elizabeth Nicholson. He was educated in Belfast and attended two sessions at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. He became a Presbyterian Minister. He became a very well known evangelist during the 1920’s for his “forthright brand of evangelism.” Newspaper after newspaper wrote of his revival campaigns where 100’s and 1000’s attended. A wave of religious enthusiasm swept through Northern Ireland and made Mr. Nicholson the most noted evangelist in his generation. He was nicknamed “the Tornado of the Pulpit.” For 50 years he preached revival campaigns in many parts of the world. He died at age 83 on October 29, 1959 in Ireland.

“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. They’re motto was 'One in Christ.'” (Source: To God be the Glory – The Personal Memoirs of Rev. William P. Nicholson by Mavis Heaney, p 110)

Meanwhile, Mr. Duff,: “after preaching the gospel in Ireland for 20 years, my father preached another 33 years in America…decided to go into a Bible teaching ministry.” In his lifetime, Walter Duff was a pastor, evangelist and teacher. He professed in 1892. He died in 1947 and his wife, Mathilda Hamilton Duff, died ten years later in March of 1957 (Evangeline – A Story of Faith by Bette Nordberg, 1996; pp 23, 16, 115)

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. His daughter Evangeline and her husband Archie McNeill became one of its many teams. 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)

In the Spring of 1937, the home of Helen (Duff) Baugh on an old farm in Wonder, Oregon became the headquarters for The American Christian Workers Union. Here they organized and hosted the various evangelistic teams who came and went. (Evangeline - A Story of Faith, p 71)

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.”

Is this sufficient evidence to show that the father of Helen and Evangeline was the same “Mr. Duff” in Northern Ireland that Mr. Govan wrote about and that their father was also the same Walter Duff who founded the Irish Christian Worker Union? The author believes it is and that they are all one and the same person.


Walter Duff, Sr. died in 1947 and his wife Mathilda Hamilton Duff died in March, 1957
All five of their children were involved in Christian ministry.

Daughter Alexandra Evangeline Duff married Archie McNeill on Jan 28, 1936, son of famous Scottish preacher John McNeill.
This couple founded Canon Beach Conference Center.
Archie died August 5, 1952 in an auto accident. Evangeline died June 16, 1977.
Evangeline managed Canon Beach Conference Center alone for 25 years.
Daughter Heather became the Director of Canon Beach Conference Center.
Evangeline – A Story of Faith
by Bette Nordberg, p 196
(children: Isabelle (Heather) McNeill Goodenough (husband Dale) and Helen Jean McNeill Steynor (husband Charles from Bermuda)

Daughter: Helen married Elwood Baugh on January 23, 1929
(children: Eva May & Gordon)
Founded Stonecroft Ministries, Kansas City, Missouri.
The Story Goes On by Helen Duff Baugh, 1984

Son: Walter Duff Jr.married Edith Dunn on June 12, 1936.
(children: Priscilla Ann, Mary Margaret and Walter David)
Founded Village Missions to supply Christian leadership to villages and rural communities across America in 1948.
Walter Duff Jr died in 1993 after leading Village Missions for 45 years.

Daughter: Olive married Charles Huddleston Jan. 28, 1930; California

Son: Haldane married Ethel; directs a conference ministry in The Park of The Pines, Seattle, WA


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, Oregon and Frontier Publishing, Seaside, Oregon; 1996
ISBN 0-939116-39-1

The Story Goes On by Helen Duff Baugh, 1984
Stonecroft Publications, Kansas City, Missouri
No ISBN No. Used by Permission
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
ISBN 1-84030-151-1

A History of the Irish Presbyterians by William Thomas Latimer
Read online in Google books; p 496.

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