New Zealand Newspapers & Periodicals
NOTICE: The 2x2 History Website has an excellent extensive archive of newspapers for New Zealand for the period 1907 thru 1945. The originals are available there for downloading in pdf format. For this reason TTT has posted here only a select few of the available articles.
Evening Post, Wellington NZ (defunct)
1907, February 23 - News and Notes
New Zealand Truth, Auckland, NZ (now a weekly tabloid)
1907 May 18, p 8 – A New Religion Operating in Australia
Missionaries in Melbourne, The "Go-Preachers" or " Dippers " —Australians Beware
New Zealand Treasury
1907 July, pp. 102-103 - Letter to the Editor
Evening Post, Wellington NZ (defunct)
1908 August 31, p2 - Anglo-Colonial Notes
The Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Otautau, NZ (defunct)
1909 October 26 – No Heading
The Poverty Bay Herald, Gisbourne, NZ (now the Gisbourne Herald)
1910 September 28, p8 - Cooneyite Convention
1917 January 4, p8 - A Conscientious Objector - Testimony of Jesus
The sect was known as “The Testimony of Jesus.” In the old Country it was recognised by the War Office and its preachers exempted from military service. The sect had no written teachings, but relied upon the New Testament, which they claimed was opposed to war.
New Zealand Truth, Auckland, NZ (now a weekly tabloid)
1917 January 20, p7 - A New Brand – An Ashburton Appeal – Query from the Chairman. Testimony of Jesus
The Testimony of Jesus had no written creed, but it had been recognized by the War Office at Home.
London Daily Mail (England)
1917 March 23 - "Testimony of Jesus" recognized as a religious denomination. Worker exempted.
Hay Halkett, worker, given military exemption as minister of The Testimony of Jesus.
*This very well may be the recognition referred to in the New Zealand appeals.
The Evening Post (now defunct)
1917 July 25, p8 - Religious Objectors -"Testimony of Jesus"
Sir John [Findlay] added that the society had a large membership in other parts of the world, and it had been recognised in England that it was a religious body within the meaning of the Act.
July 26, 1917, p9 - Military Service Board - Conscientious Objectors - A Sect with No Written Constitution. Testimony of Jesus - Appeals for 18 men
The Grey River Argus (defunct), Greymouth NZ
1917 August 4 – Military Service – The Religious Objectors. Testimony of Jesus
The Poverty Bay Herald, Gisbourne, NZ (now the Gisbourne Herald)
1917 October 27, p 7 - Ministers in Gaol – Will they be Released! Testimony of Jesus
The New Zealand Free Lance
1917 November 2, p21 - Peeps at Parliament From the Press Gallery
Sir John Findlay announced that the English Courts have decided that the Church of the Testimony of Jesus is a religious body to be officially recognised
1918 May 7, p2 - Frederick Plews...was a minister of the body known as the Testimony of Jesus Christ. Mr. Hoggard said this body was recognised as a religious organisation in Great Britain and Canada,
Otago Daily Times, Dunedin, NZ
1920, May 22 - A Nameless Sect - Objections to Military Training - Lad Granted exemption
The Auckland Star
1924 March 19, p5 - Exemption Sought - In Name of Religion - Cleaning of Dirty Rifles
...sect known as the Testimony of Jesus. Some little time afterwards his Worship received a letter from the founder of the faith. This letter showed how insincere the applicants had been. It stated that the founder was a true Briton, and was willing to shed his last drop of blood for his country, and that he was very annoyed to think that any of his followers should make their faith an excuse for trying to evade service.
January 21, 1926, p. 11 - Wilson McClung re Cooney Camp
The Evening Post
January 26, 1926, p. 4 - Wilson McClung re Cooneyite name
The Evening Post
December 12, 1940, p. 15 - Christian Assemblies of Australia and New Zealand
1998 by Arnold Parr
Leaving the Cooneyites: Analysis of the leaving process for long-term members of a sect with Christine Wilson,
Australian Religion Studies Review, 11, 1, 17--28 (Journal Article)
[TTT does not have copy]
The Timaru Herald
December 7, 1978, Page 8
Christian ministrty moves from Winchester farm
RE Convention at Winchester, NZ
First line: "Looking like a small village, this canvas town of over 100 tents is situated on a farm near Winchester."
The Timaru Herald
Date unknown (probably before or after above article)
Christian Camp at Winchester
RE Convention at Winchester, NZ
Articles pertaining to Archibald (Archie) Irvine, son of Wm. Irvine
News and Notes
There is no boon that may not be abused and the penalty for religious liberty is the occasional appearance of noxious and half-insane fanatics who seduce the credulous from their social or family duties and cause dire misery. A farmer named Wilson near Ipswich was lately fined £1 and costs for damage inflicted on a “mission hall” with an iron bar; but he had the sympathy of his neighbours. A party known as “tramp preachers” whose tenets somewhat resemble those of the Mormons have lately been ravaging East Anglia seducing converts not only from the churches but from their homes. Proselytes were rebaptised by immersion, and were in some cases sent abroad on mission-work without funds being required to make the mission pay its own expenses. The “fellowship” has been nine years in existence and is said to number 350 members. Wilson had been particularly unfortunate, and was driven to desperation. Two sons and three daughters had joined the “tramps,” and the eldest girl, conceiving that she had a “call” for mission work, had left her home and refused to return.
May 18, 1907 p8
The New Zealand Truth, Auckland, NZ(now a weekly tabloid)
A New Religion, Operating in Australia
Missionaries in Melbourne
The "Go-Preachers" or " Dippers "
The "No-Sect Sect"—A Campaign of Cadging—Homes Broken Up—Australians Beware
Of the making of new religious sects there is no end. And as if Australia had not already an ample variety of religiosity, a new one has come here. Officially, they bear no name, but, for reasons hereafter explained, they are variously known as "The Go-Preachers," "The Cooneyites," "The Irvineites," "The No-Sect Sect," and sometimes as "The Dippers." Ostensibly, they have no responsible organisation, no headquarters, no offices; but, behind it all, there are, as usual, clever hands and cunning brains. Four representatives of the sect are already operating in Melbourne, while two are said to be at work in Sydney.
It would appear that the sect was started in Great Britain in 1898. Six years previously one William Irvine, a colliery manager at Kilsyth, Scotland, attended a mission service held by the "Rev." John McNeil, an Evangelist. Eight months later he resigned his position and went to the Bible Training Institute at Glasgow, and until 1898 he was attached to the "Faith Mission," which sent out preachers all over the United Kingdom. But while working in the South of Ireland Irvine came to the conclusion that his position was "inconsistent with the example of Christ," and he left the mission to preach alone. "Had I chosen the ordinary path that leads to the ministry, with its churches, chapels, congregations, and stipends, all would have been well," says Irvine. So he inaugurated the "Go-Preachers," who sometimes vary the name by calling themselves the "Tramp Preachers."
Their "Charter," as they call it, is the 10th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, and they are told to follow the Apostolic injunction: "And as ye go, preach, saying the Kingdom of heaven is at hand," and "Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses; nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats ... for the workman is worthy of his hire." Upon this foundation the Irvineites have built up an extensive system of fraud, imposition, cadging and credulity. In 1891 Irvine was joined by, amongst others, Edward Cooney, the son of an Enniskillen draper, who became a member of the sect with Annie Smith, one of his father's assistants. Later on Irvine and Cooney were joined by one Wilson McClung, and hence in certain parts of England the "preachers" are known as "McClungites."
Now what are the tenets of this sect? In the first place they cadge and loaf upon other people. Irvine himself says: "In exchange for bread and butter we give those who are In fellowship with us bread from Heaven—a real hearty, exchange. ... Whenever I have visited the home of a brother I have always found hospitality in exchange for that, which, as a preacher of the truth, I bring into it. ... As for those phases of the work which cannot be carried on without money, all I know is that the money has always been available." But at the back of all this bunkum there is the undeniable fact that Irvine's converts" and "disciples" have supplied him with any amount of money. It has been ascertained that the income of Irvine and Cooney totals at least £2,000 a year, apart from the cost of sending "preachers" to the colonies and other expenses, such as bicycles, clothes, railway and boat fares, to say nothing of the cost where it must be incurred, of accommodation. But, primarily, the "Go-Preachers" or "The Dippers" are loafers.
Secondly, the "Go-Preachers" (according to the English papers which have investigated their proceedings) are breakers of homes, breeders of strife and domestic dissension.
Up to the commencement of the present year Irvine, had despatched 114 "preachers" to Canada and the United States, some score to South Africa, and half a dozen or so to Australia and New Zealand. These "preachers" are mostly girls, and it is evident, from published correspondence, that their movements are directed by Irvine and Cooney.
Irvine says: "The preachers always go about in pairs—two men and two women. A sister always has her companion to whom she can appeal. If she thinks it advisable she may go to one of the brothers, who are always at hand, prepared to exercise nothing more than a brotherly control, which is the only kind of control we have. We don't recognise that sisters do more than help. They couldn't baptise." Scores of young men and women have turned their backs upon home and relatives and gone into the world as converts of the new religion. In many cases (inqired into by English journalists) four sisters named Wilson, the daughters of a farmer near Ipswich, were each entitled to £500 under their grandfather's will, and all this money went to Irvine. Numerous instances have been published of girls leaving home, and, under the influence of the new religion, going to America, Africa or Australia; and an authenticated case (in Lancashire) is given to prove that a young woman lost her reason through this religious mania and had to be placed in confinement. "God provides," said the "preachers," but the £2,000 of the Wilson children should be borne in mind. A typical illustration of the practices of the "Go-Preachers" is that one of them who "lived" on a poor woman in Falkirk, Scotland, until she was compelled to put him out." Their "preachers" in Australia are carrying on the same game.
As to their assertion that they have neither organisation nor method; it is conclusively shown that, as a body, they are controlled by individuals; that there exists a perfectly understood system encouraging likely "preachers"; that, so far from their movements depending upon Divine guidance, they are mainly prearranged; that they are maintained and housed by an elaborate system liable to abuse; and that the strength of the preaching is modified to suit the occasion. If they can, they loaf; but sometimes "payment is necessary where there is no saints or no accommodation." All requests to Irvine or Cooney. From fathers or mothers for information, as to the whereabouts of their children and the conditions under which they are living are refused. At the annual convention held in Belfast brothers and sisters (according to Irvine) "volunteer for the work in the colonies," but there is ample evidence that they are '''sent," and have no choice but to go. Regarding "Go-Preachers" who are already operating in Australia, "Truth" has been able to ascertain that four are in Melbourne. Two of this quartette are Willie and Aggie Hughes (apparently brother and sister), who came here on the Oswestry Grange. Subsequently Aggie wrote: "We got into a Baptist hall, but only got staying a week. Were put out at the end of it, although we did try to go softly" (i.e., in preaching). The names of the others are at present unascertainable; and it is signiflcent that the Melbourne Baptists, with which denomination the "Dippers" are stated to be allied, deny all knowledge of the sect. "Truth's" representative, who inquired into the matter, however, has reason to believe that the "Baptist hall" mentioned in the letter was one in Fitzroy.
But the fact that there are representatives of the "Go-Preachers" in Melbourne and Sydney is fully established, and also that they are at work endeavoring to proselytise and "convert," and also to loaf, and cadge, according to their creed, upon those, who have provided themselves with a modicum of the good things of this world. It is worthy of note that the "Irvineites" are divided into two sections—the "preachers" and the "saints." The "preachers" are those who abandon the things of the world in order to devote their lives to preaching. The "saints" are those who remain at home "in fellowship" under the supervision of the. "bishops," among the latter being Irvine and Cooney. And it is an understood thing that the "preachers" in the colonies are expected to remit to the "saints" at home any monetary collections they may, make.
— Melbourne Truth
Dear Brother Ferguson,
— I would like through the "Treasury" to call attention to what may be a danger, especially to small assemblies. Visiting such an assembly some time ago, we were pained to see it still further weakened by some of their number walking no more with them. Some time previously, two lady preachers belonging to a sect of recent origin came into the district to hold meetings. The Christians of this little meeting unwisely attended. Now they have reason to regret doing so. Some are now out of the meeting, and speak most bitterly against what they once owned as of God; speaking of those in the meeting as "unsaved," and the servants of Christ who laboured there (some of them now with Christ) as "False prophets, crying peace, peace." And as this is the effect generally produced by these preachers, we recommend God’s people to apply an old and safe rule to them: "By their fruits ye shall know them"; and to obey Prov. xix. 27, "Cease my son to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge."
Now a few words as to these preachers known as "Pilgrims" or "Cooneyites," as we have observed them in N.Z. and elsewhere. They come round the little meetings, often accept hospitality, giving the impression that they have very much in common with them, and when they gain a footing use it as already pointed out. In no case have they helped the little assembly. They claim to work on "Faith Lines," and each to look to the Lord to be guided in their movements apart from any central authority; but it seems somewhat strange the uniformity in methods and teaching wherever they are met. Those taken with their apparent spirituality and unworldliness in dress, etc., would do well to consider Col. ii.23: "Which things have a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh."
In their preaching there is much that is contrary to sound doctrine, tending in a subtle way toward Unitarianism (it does seem as if this is the error Satan is pushing in these days). We give just a few samples of the things they teach. They teach that apart from a "living witness" no one can be born again. The living witness is some preacher. Two passages of God’s Word are enough to show how false this very unsettling kind of teaching is: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name" (John xx.30-31). "And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. iii. 15). Again and again has the reading of God’s Word or a tract, apart from any other human instrumentality, led souls to Christ. They lay great stress upon receiving the "living Christ." It is, thank God, true that every one who believes in Christ receives Him. But according to these preachers, to present the work of Christ to the sinner to meet his need is not to preach a living Christ. So the three grand accomplished facts of 1 Cor. xv. 1-4 are but "mere statements." To point sinners to the "precious blood of Christ" is not their way. They have referred to it as "the blood of a dead man." We thank God for the peace we entered into when we saw that the blood had made full satisfaction to God, and we shall sing of it in the glory (Rev. v. 9). "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. ii. 2) is explained by them to mean "Christ crucified in the believer." No; Christ crucified, risen and glorified, was Paul’s grand theme for saved and unsaved.
One thing more. Speaking against preachers marrying, they say, "Christ did not marry." Now in these days when on all hands the Deity of Christ is being denied, often insidiously, by those who profess to preach Him, Christians may well beware of those who thus refer to Him. To say the least, the words betray an utter failure to comprehend His glory as the God-man in making Him the pattern for the servant, in what God did not.
In closing, let me say again: When the effect of any preaching is to lead you away from the little assemblies for the weekly remembrance of our blessed Lord, that preaching is not of God. If the souls are saved it is no reason why you should be there, especially if God’s order is set aside in women preaching to public meetings of men and women (1Cor. xiv. 34-35; 1 Tim. ii. 11-12). We hope and believe that God blesses His Word even in Rome, and for the measure in which this is true we praise God; but we do not believe that would justify our going to hear a priest of Rome celebrate mass.—Yours in our soon coming Lord.
—W. J. McClure.
There is more glory brought to God by a child of His ruling his family according to Christ than by the wisest man ruling a kingdom.
1. On His shoulder—The place of strength. Ex. xxviii.12; Isa. xxvi.4; Luke xv.5.
2. In His bosom—the place of confidence. Isa. xl.11; Prov. xxix.25; John xiii.23,25; Psa. xxv.14.
3. On His Heart—the place of affection. Ex. xxviii.29; Jer. xxxi.3; S. of S. viii.6.
4. On His hands—the place of safety. Isa. xlix.16; S. of S. ii.6; Isa. xli.10; John x.28-29.
5. On His forehead—the place of thought. Ex. xxviii.38; Psa. xl.5; Jer. xxix.11; Psa. cxv.12.
6. On His wings—the place of power. Ex. xix. 4; Deut. xxxii. 11.
7. In His arms—the place of support. Deut. xxxiii.27; Psa. lv. 22; 2 Sam. xxii. 19.
In seven places, and all at the same time!
Let your children see that you esteem God’s Word, not only because it teaches you how to be saved, and how to be happy, but because it reveals the very heart of God in Christ. See that you recommend it by your speech and by your ways. —R.C.C.
NOTE: The Treasury, New Zealand (Open Brethren Magazine)
c/o GPH Society Ltd., P.O. Box 74, Palmerston North, New Zealand; Tel: (063) 88180
The hamlet named Crocknacrieve, situated in one of the most picturesque districts of Co. Fermanagh, is at present the scene of an international convention in connection with the strange religious sect known as “the Pilgrims,” and more popularly in Fermanagh as the “Cooneyites,” on account of the fact that one of the chief leaders is Mr. Edward Cooney, of Enniskillen. From all parts of the United Kingdom evangelists have foregathered, and converts have travelled even from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, America and other distant lands to participate in the daily services which are a feature of the reunion.
The “pilgrims” spend much time in walking about the spacious grounds deeply concerned in perusing the Bible. All the manual labour is done by the “pilgrims.” The women discharge domestic duties and dressmaking, while the men undertake cooking, cycle repairs, carpentry, painting, sailoring, boot-repairing, stable duty, and other occupations incidental to a large community.
At the chief meeting of the present convention there was an attendance of over 1,000 people, the principal speaker being Mr. Irvine who addressed the audience for three hours and a half!
Particulars of a fanatics congress are given in the following telegram to the Globe: Remarkable scenes are being witnessed at Ballinamallard, County Fermanagh, where the Cooneyites are holding a revival convention on a very extensive scale. Over 2,000 pilgrims from all parts of the world are taking part in all-day religious exercises, holding the belief that the Lord may usher in the millennium at any moment.
Their prayer services are continuous from dawn till sunset. Public baptisms in Ballinamallard River of hundreds of people are a daily feature of the convention. For weeks past elaborate preparations for the festival had been in progress. Nearly all the converts sleep in the open air, on the farm of one of the leaders of the strange sect. But those who prefer it are permitted to rest in temporary wooden dormitories, marquees, and other tents.
That remarkable sect, known as the “Cooneyites,” have been holding their annual convention at Crocknacrieve, Fermanagh. Upwards of a thousand members, who describe themselves as pilgrims, assembled from all parts of Ireland, as well as from England and Scotland, and even from some of the colonies. Crocknacrieve House and its extensive grounds were placed at the disposal of the assemblage by the owner who is said to be an enthusiastic member of the sect.
According to the lead correspondent of a Dublin journal, over 200 persons were accommodated in the mansion and bedsteads were placed in the out-offices and in two large sheds for the female pilgrims, while male members of the sect slept in tents erected on the lawn. Bread was baked and butter made on the premises. Nearly all the “Pilgrims” male and female, ride bicycles and a big shed was provided for storing their machines. Male members wear beards and rubber collars, while the “sisters” appear in black dresses and plain sailor hats.
At these gatherings, which extend over several days, services are held daily, the principal preacher on this occasion being Mr. William Irvine, one of the founders of the sect, who was formerly an engineer in Scotland. At each service two or three members of the sect relate the story of their “conversion,” and renounce their former religious associations. The Cooneyites declare that no one can be saved who drinks or smokes. Before a person is admitted into the sect, he or she is publicly immersed in a running stream.
Robert Clayton Patton, contractor, Mt Somers, appealed on the ground of religious objections. When asked what religious sect he belonged to he said “The Testimony of Jesus.” The chairman asked if this was a recognised religious body, but could get no definite reply. “We put Christ ahead of everything,” was one of the appellant’s replies. Under further examination he said they had no clergy, no governing body. “We leave it all to Christ,” he said.
“Pretty vague,” commented the chairman. “Cannot you give us a better answer than that?”
“I have a friend here who can,” said appellant.
Ernest John Holtham said he was a preacher in the sect. He had known of the existence of the religion for about seven years, having first come into contact with it in Victoria. Before that he was a Methodist. He met some preachers who belonged to this denomination and afterwards he began to preach the faith himself, having preached for five years and during that time he had made many converts in different parts of the country. The sect was known as “The Testimony of Jesus.” In the old Country it was recognised by the War Office and its preachers exempted from military service. The sect had no written teachings, but relied upon the New Testament, which they claimed was opposed to war.
The chairman: What do you suggest is going to happen if all but the Germans obeyed your teachings?
Witness: It is a case of everyone to his own conscience.
The chairman: But if you had no one else to protect you?
Witness: We understand the British nation is fighting for its existence : we are ready to help in certain respects.
The chairman: You are not prepared to go and fight?
The Chairman: Nor assist in any way?
Witness: We are prepared to assist the military authorities but in a civil capacity.
The chairman pointed out that all who assisted with voluntary contributions were thereby assisting in the war, except that they were keeping out of the danger zone.
Witness said something about there being a greater danger in a man’s own conscience.
The chairman: If you saw a woman outraged would you stand by?
Witness replied that he would do his best to help her, but he would not sanction the killing of the assailant.
The chairman; Well your views are not what I understand according to the bible.
In reply to the chairman, Patton said he would not submit himself to the military authorities. He refused to sign an undertaking to perform non-combatant service after being warned by the chairman that this was his only way of escape, and accordingly his appeal was dismissed.
January 20, 1917 p7
The New Zealand Truth, Auckland, NZ (now a weekly tabloid)
A New Brand – An Ashburton Appeal
Query from the Chairman
“Some years ago a man with a kink for statistics figured it out that there were some 600 religions existing in the “civilized” world. Since then, however, dozens of new brands have cropped up everywhere, and while it was generally thought a week or two ago that the Brethren was the latest idea in religion, another more recent article called Brother Holtham has been dug up by the Military Appeal Board in Ashburton, where beer is banned and wowsers have uninterrupted fling. The limb of the new sect who held forth was a young fellow named Patton, who happened to draw a marble in the conscription ballot.
HE APPEALED TO THE BOARD
for exemption on the grounds of religious and conscientious belief that the bearing of arms and performance of any combatant service was unlawful, by reason of being contrary to Divine revelation.
He reckoned he pinned his objection to serve to the teachings of the New Testament and the Testament of Jesus.
The chairman: What religious body do you belong to? —The Testimony of Jesus.
Is that a recognized religious body? I have not heard of it before?—It is what I base my faith on.
Will you give the Board some idea of your constitution?—We make our own body. Christ is at the head of all things.
Have you churches?—We have meetings.
We want something more definite than that. What are your doctrines?—That Christ is at the head of everything. We hold that His teachings forbid us to carry arms.
TO DESTROY OUR FELLOW MEN.
Is the Testimony of Jesus recognised by the State as a religious body? Have you the right to perform the marriage ceremony?
Appellant admitted that the Testimony of Jesus had no legal standing to perform such a ceremony. There was no governing body except Jesus Christ.
The Chairman remarked on the vagueness of the explanation, and appellant brought Brother Holtham forward to enlighten the Board.
Brother Holtham was understood to say that the denomination was formed by the preachers in it. He could not, however, say where it originated, although he had been a member for seven years or so, and his first experience of it had been in Victoria. Previously he was a Methodist. The Testimony of Jesus had no written creed, but it had been recognized by the War Office at Home.
After Brother Holtham had spoken some more, the Chairman of the Board asked: Would your denomination sanction you standing by whilst women were
BEING RAPED BY THE HUNS?
The witness replied that he would do his best to stop such a proceeding, but at the same time, he would not sanction the killing of the offender.
The Chairman asked the appellant, Patton, if he was prepared to undertake military service other than fighting, to which Patton replied, that he would do no service under the military authorities at all.
The appeal was dismissed.
This afternoon the Third Wellington Military Service Board—Mr. H. J. Beswick (chairman), Mr. A. O'L. Considine, and Mr. M. J. Mack—had before it appeals on behalf of sixteen conscientious objectors whose appeals have al ready been heard and dismissed; and the appellants sent into camp. They went into camp, but the military authorities decided to recommend that they should again be brought before the board, in order that it might be ascertained whether they are really for the purposes of the Act, members of a religious organisation. The appellants belong to what they term the “Testimony of Jesus.”
Sir John Findlay, K.C. said that the appellants were ready and willing to sign the amended form of declaration in regard to service in certain branches. What really had to be determined, under the provisions of section 18 of .the Military Service Act, was (1) Whether the appellants were members of a religions body; (2) whether, if so, one of the doctrines of that society was that the bearing of arms was against Divine revelation; and (3) whether they, as members of such society, honestly and conscientiously believed in such doc trine.
Sir John added that the society had a large membership in other parts of the world, and it had been recognised in England that it was a religious body within the meaning of the Act.
The Chairman (Mr. H. J. Beswick) pointed out that Quakers, Christadelp hians and Seventh Day Adventists were the only sects recognised under the New Zealand Act. Sir John Findlay said that the society had no confession, and had not committed its doctrine to any manual, but he thought that the Board would have no difficulty in recognising the bona fides of the sect.
In reply to Mr. M.J. Mack, Sir John said he had no record of any conference of the society at which the question of combatant service had been discussed.
The names of the men concerned are: J . Pickering, Thomas P. Dixon, J.S. Hogan, J. E. Holtham, J. Gray, R. Arthur, I.R. Aicken, P.R. Payton, F.T. Johnston, J. Craig, H. Smith, R. Gray, P. Dickson, R. Stockdill, H. Rankin, and A. Page.
The Third Wellington Military Service Board sat in Wellington yesterday. Mr. H. J. Beswick presided, and with him were Mr. M. J. Mack and Mr. A. O. L. Considine. Captain P. Baldwin appeared for the military authorities.
The board heard appeals affecting about eighteen conscientious objectors (now in camp), who belong to the sect known as the Testimony of Jesus. Sir John Findlay, K.C., appeared for the appellants. The regulations had been changed since the appeals had been dismissed, and the Minister of Defence had agreed to an application being made to the board for rehearing. All the appellants were willing to sign an undertaking to perform non-combatant work.
Sir John Findlay said that he would first draw attention to Section 18 of the Act, which provided that any man called up for service should have a right of appeal on the grounds that he was, on August 4, 1914, and had been since, a member of a religious body, the tenets and doctrines of which declared that the bearing of arms and the performance of combatant service was contrary to Divine revelation, and also that according to his own conscientious religious belief the bearing of arms was unlawful, being contrary to Divine revelation. Counsel said he must, therefore, show that the Testimony of Jesus was a religious body in accordance with the section, and also that the person claiming to be a member of it did conscientiously believe that the bearing of arms was contrary to Divine revelation.
In New Zealand there were between 700 and 800 members, with 24 ministers or evangelists. In Australia there were 74 evangelists, and 2500 members, while in England there were 70 ministers and 5000 members. The sect had been in existence for upwards of twenty years. They had no written constitution, but adopted the New Testament teachings. The qualification for membership was merely the profession of a belief in the teachings of Christ, and an undertaking to observe such teachings in everyday life. The evangelists were preachers selected at the annual conventions, and received no regular remuneration, but were dependent upon voluntary contributions from co-religionists in their districts. Every person desirous of becoming a preacher must first sell all his worldly goods and distribute them among the poor. They interpreted certain teachings of Jesus Christ as expressly prohibitous against the bearing of arms. The body had no central control or official literature, but the view was universally held that the bearing of arms was forbidden by Christ. It was one of the cardinal doctrines of the faith.
Wilson McClung, called as a witness, said that he was the “overseer” or principal representative of the body in New Zealand. He had been connected with it for about twenty years, having first come into touch with it in Ireland.
The chairman: Who is the head of the whole thing?
– Witness: “It has no head, sir. I am the overseer in New Zealand.”
Have you no charter, no rules, no written matter at all?
– “Only the New Testament.”
The chairman: That is most extraordinary, because even a football club has something written.
In reply to further questions, witness said that the body, as it existed in other countries, was there also without any written constitution.
The chairman: Then the difficulty is to see how you are going to establish the fact that the teachings of this Church are so-and-so. What would happen if anybody kicked over the traces here? You are quite unique if you can so far agree as to what they should and should not do.
Captain Baldwin: The question is, Are there any traces to kick over?
Witness, proceeding, said that it had always been a belief of the Testimony of Jesus that it was wrong to bear arms.
The chairman said that in the absence of written evidence it was simply a question of getting further witnesses to corroborate what the present witness was saying.
The chairman: When did the question of the bearing of arms first crop up, so far as you were concerned?
Witness: Last year.
Was that at a convention?
– “At different conventions in New Zealand.”
Can you say that the question of bearing arms was ever discussed or taught upon prior to the war?
– “I can’t say it ever became a question, but at the same time we held and believed that the teaching of Christ was entirely opposed to it.”
You held it yourself?
– “No, the body.”
But how can you say the body held it when the question was never discussed?
– “It was discussed, but not at meetings.
After the examination of the witness had proceeded further, the chairman remarked: Apparently they discussed the question only last year, and then came to the conclusion that the bearing of arms was unlawful.
Sir John Findlay: I must say I was led distinctly to understand by this gentleman and by other gentlemen whom I shall call that while the question of whether the Conscription Act compelled these men to serve was raised as an immediate and practical question, yet since the start one of the cardinal tenets of the body was that the bearing of arms was against the Divine revelation. I must, in justice to another evangelist, call him and see what he says.
The next witness was John Ernest Holtham, who said that for five years he had been an evangelist for the Testimony of Jesus. His first connection with the body had been through the attending of evangelistic meetings. In attending those meetings, he had got clear ideas of what the beliefs were, and amongst other things he got to see very plainly that the preacher did not believe in taking up arms in any way. This was actually stated. At a conference held at Waikanae, the members of the Testimony of Jesus had decided that the attitude they had all along taken up was the correct attitude, and that they should persist in it. He admitted that no definite resolution to that effect was passed, but maintained that all present were in agreement upon the matter.
James Manning and R. J. Tarr, other members of the sect, were called.
The board reserved its decision, the chairman remarking that it was a very difficult question to decide upon.
Wellington, August 3. The Military Service Board said that careful consideration had been given in the case of appeals of a member of the sect known as “The Testimony of Jesus,” and the conclusion that they came to was that appellants do not come under the provisions of Section 18 of the Act. The appeals would therefore be dismissed, and if appellants agreed to sign the declaration provided, the Board would recommend that they be called on to do non-combatant services. It was intimated that appellants would sign the declaration.
Wellington , last night, Dr. Newman inquired as to the Defence Minister yesterday afternoon, if as a consequence of exemption by the House on the previous night of all ministers of religion, he would give orders for the release of two or three clergyman belonging to the Testimony of Jesus who are now in prison for refusing to perform military service.
Sir James Allen replied: The Bill is not passed yet, and I cannot say what will be the position when it is passed. It is, in any case, not for me to decide whether they come within the four corners of the Act or not. It will be for the Military Service Boards to decide.
It involved the highly contentious issue of exempting clergy and the Marist Brothers, and there could easily have been a lively outburst, for sectarianism, as we discovered on a previous occasion, was not far beneath the surface. However, everybody exercised self-re straint, and Sir Joseph Ward, in Committee, moved to exempt all teachers.
It was a singularly interesting division, in which the Reform half of the Cabinet walked behind Sir James Allen into the Noes lobby, and the Liberal half with Sir Joseph Ward into the Ayes department. Labour and Liberal members backed the exemption clause solidly, and as a couple of Reformers thought the same way, there was a majority of four in favour of the new clause.
Sir James Allen, in his innocence, thought that there were only half-a-dozen religious denominations to be considered, but when the clergy exemption clause came up in Committee, we all made some interesting discoveries. Sir John Findlay announced that the English Courts have decided that the Church of the Testimony of Jesus is a religious body to be officially recognised, while Mr. R.A. Wright told us about the Church of the Millennium Dawn, the Russellites—he was careful to explain that the Church is not a political association—the Christian Israelites, the Brethren, and the Church of Christ. Other members contended that politics constitute almost a religion with some people, and that there are consequently Masseyites and Wardites to be also reckoned with.
It took until dawn to get the Expeditionary Force Bill through all its stages, and then the fight was transferred to the calm atmosphere of the Legislative Council. The Lords, at once seized upon the teachers’ exemption clause and raised as much excitement as was good in that atmosphere, where nothing is said above the conversational tone, and speech is grace fully deliberate.
By, eleven votes to four they threw out the whole clause, thus denying exemption to clergy as well as teachers. The majority included some pillars of the Noncomformist Church, so everybody predicted a stubborn fight. Monday's sittings of both Houses were devoted almost solely to appointing "managers" representing the two sides. They wrestled with each other, absolutely without agreeing, though there was real harmony in the Lower House lobby, where Sir . James Carroll, with a personally selected choir of press and legislative voices conducted old songs and chanties during a long wait.
Pessimism was the dominant note over the conferences. The Prime Minister, in asking the House to adjourn till a conference ended, said it might be one, two, or three hours. "We are at the mercy of Tiberius!" quoth Mr. Glover dramatically. Quite privately a Minister announced a possible but cruel solution of the deadlock. "We have only to wait long enough," he explained, "and the old chaps in the other places will be dead!"
Monday passed without agreement, and the venerable gentlemen of the Upper House were delighted at the large amount of public interest taken in their opinions. Three titled commoners were included in one of the deputations from the House of Repre sentatives, but this delicate compliment did not weaken the stern determination not to gi ve in.
Dissolution and cramming the Upper House with fresh nominees were suggested by outsiders who did not realise the real position. There was never a serious prospect of the elected members giving up their salaried jobs, and the Government was not inclined to force an issue in the country on a religious question. Lobby authorities credit Cabinet with the intention of at last setting up the Final Appeal Board, which can determine any question referred to it by the Minister of Defence or the Military Service Boards.
The Expeditionary Force Bill was dropped, much to the enjoyment of the Upper House members, who crowded their special gallery to hear the Prime Minister's announcement, but the Government had found its easy way out in Clause 31 of the Military Service Act, 1917, authorising the establishment of the Final Appeal Board.
During the final hours, we heard of Mr. Webb's intention to resign the Grey seat a week after the session's end. His constituents' appeal for his exemption as an essential worker was vetoed by the Military Service Board, which doubtless, felt itself on sound ground in denying that any legislator is indispensable.
Frederick Plews, evangelist, Waikanae, for whom Mr. D. R. Hoggard appeared, made an application to the Second Wellington Military Service Board for exemption on the ground that he was a minister of the body known as the Testimony of Jesus Christ. Mr. Hoggard said this body was recognised as a religious organisation in Great Britain and Canada, and he asked that the reservist should be treated in a similar manner to other ministers of religion.
The Chairman (Mr. J. W. Poynton, S.M.) pointed out that the members of the faith in question had no written creed, and he would have to advise the board that the reservist was not in the same position as the ministers of other recognised religious bodies. The board decided to dismiss the appeal, the reservist to be given non-combatant service.
Some time was occupied in the Police Court yesterday morning in the endeavour to determine the beliefs and organisation of a peculiarly vague sect, one of whose members made application for exemption from attendance at parades on the ground that any form of military service was contrary to his religious beliefs. It appears that members of this body have previously been exempted during war time but the fact that it has no name, no special creed or principles, and no acknowledged head made the position a somewhat difficult one to deal with.
Mr. Bartholomew, S.M., presided on the bench, and Major Fraser appeared for the Defence Department. The applicant, Walter Ernest Scott, 18 years of age, was represented by Mr. Aspinall. Mr. Aspinall said his client belonged to a religious body that had already obtained exemption. They met at Purakanui and also at Otokia. One of their beliefs was that taking up arms was contrary to the teaching of Christ.
The applicant, in evidence, said he had known this body since last Labour Day, and had become a member of it just before Christmas. He was baptized at a convention at Otokia just after Christmas. He attended their regular Wednesday and Sunday meetings at Mr. Balone’s house in Littlebourne. His mother belonged to this body and had been baptized at the same time. They believed that the bearing of arms was contrary to the teaching of Christ, because they never found that He did anything of the kind. He attended parades and drilled with the Senior Cadets before joining this body.
To Major Fraser: He would object to joining the Ambulance. He wanted complete exemption. He did not want to do anything military.
Major Fraser: You say Christ did not join the army. He did not ride in railway trains or use the telephone. You don’t use these either?
– Yes, I do.
Major Fraser: In lieu of military training, would you do other work of benefit to the State?
– It all depends what the work was.
When the position had been further explained to him, Scott said he would be quite willing to do the work required so long as it was not anything to do with the military. To the Magistrate he stated that his father, who was a Presbyterian, did not care much for him getting exemption. He let him go to the meetings though he did not like the idea at first. Before joining this body he had gone to a Presbyterian Sunday school, and had attended the Central Mission frequently.
Major Fraser: Who is going to give the necessary assurance that you remain a member of the body?
– It rests with myself to give you that assurance. Replying again to his Worship, Scott said he did not think they had any written constitution. As for beliefs and principles, they looked in the Bible to see how it was done there.
Mr. Bartholomew: but you can find almost anything you want in the Bible.
– We follow Christ and try to do as He did.
Mr. Bartholomew remarked that you could not have a body without distinctive tenets or principles to which the members subscribed. That was the essence of a body.
John Wilson McLung (sic - McClung), an evangelist of this body for some 20 years, said they took no sectarian name, and were just followers of Christ. Their teachings were those that Jesus Christ laid down and practised. Witness was the overseer of their evangelists in New Zealand. They were in every English-speaking country in the world and outside that too. They met annually for conferences in different countries. The evangelists were supported by the voluntary contributions of those who received their spiritual teaching. He was quite satisfied the applicant was genuine and not merely seeking to avoid military service. As a body they objected to militarism. For constitution they had nothing but the teachings of the New Testament.
Mr. Bartholomew: but all churches hold to them.
– There is a difference between practice and profession.
Mr. Bartholomew: I see. You practice and the others only profess! Witness went on to say that Christ and His apostles were the true interpreters of Scripture. They could never think of Jesus Christ or Peter taking up arms. The membership of the sect was about 1200 in New Zealand. Before the war it would be about 700 or 800. This increase was a normal one, he would say. They had 28 evangelists at the present time.
Mr. Bartholomew said that under the Defence Act the defendant was entitled to exemption if the magistrate was satisfied that military service was contrary to his beliefs. All he had to decide was whether the applicant’s objection was in good faith. Scott was old enough to have developed a religious conscience of his own, and appeared to be quite honest in his beliefs. The Legislature was very tender, and made provision for such cases; but provision was also made for other work to be done in lieu of military training, and the Act said that if those obtaining exemption failed to do this work the exemption would be cancelled. The exemption applied for in this case would be granted.
June 15, 1920
McClung letter to Prime Minister Massey pp. 1-2
The Rt Hon W F Massey, Prime Minister,
I beg to bring to your notice that a number of applications from young men and parents of boys belonging to our particular body, known to Military as “Testimony of Jesus” for exemption from Military Training under the Act have been made and exemptions granted by the different Magistrates, but in the case of two young fellows, George and Reginald Adamson of Pukekohe East, and a boy, Matthew Rogers of Auckland, the Magistrates at Pukekohe and Auckland have absolutely refused to grant exemptions, although any evidence they required to prove applications were bona fide, was forthcoming.
As the overseer of this body I beg to refer these cases to you so that we may get the benefit of the Act your Honourable Government has passed in the cases named. I'm sorry to have to trespass on your valuable time but we believe the Act should be administered alike in each part of the Dominion and I shall be glad if you will kindly have the matter looked into.
I am Sir, Your obedient Servant,
The obligations of a young Christadelphian under the Defence Act were the subject of some lively talk in the Police Court to-day. A youth – backed up by his father – sought exemption on the grounds that military training was contrary to the canons of his faith. Mr. Glaister appeared in support of the application.
Staff Sergeant Major Innes informed Mr. J. W. Poynton, S.M., that when the Court ordered conscientious objectors to serve in the Medical Corps they were placed in squads to do physical drill till such time as they were old enough to be transferred to the Territorial Force when they would be posted to a noncombatant branch.
The father stated that the son objected to being under military discipline. He did not wish to evade equivalent service, and was willing to work in public gardens or render any other public service.
The magistrate remarked that the case appeared genuine enough, but sometimes applicants merely wished to evade training. A case had come under his Worship’s notice which should be given publicity in order to show how insincere these people sometimes were. His Worship had heard applications for exemption by young men who represented themselves as being members of a sect known as the Testimony of Jesus.
*Some little time afterwards his Worship received a letter from the founder of the faith. This letter showed how insincere the applicants had been. It stated that the founder was a true Briton, and was willing to shed his last drop of blood for his country, and that he was very annoyed to think that any of his followers should make their faith an excuse for trying to evade service.
The question arose as to whether the applicant in the case under review would have to carry a rifle. Sergeant-Major Innes replied that the lad would have to perform physical exercises. “We’ll give him some dirty rifles to clean while the other boys are drilling” he said.
Strong exception was taken to this remark by Mr. Glaister, who deplored “the lack of intelligence” shown by officers of the Defence Department when they said that a boy ordered to perform physical exercises was to be made to clean some old rifles. Such a statement was an insult to the intelligence of the Court. A boy’s time would be much better served if he were sent to attend ambulance classes, so that he could get a certificate at the end of the year. To say that he had to clean dirty rifles was making a farce of the whole thing. Classes of boys with views like those of the applicant could be organised for instruction in ambulance work.
The sergeant major stated that there was no regulation to this effect otherwise it could be done. The magistrate decided that the boy could not be exempted. He would serve in the physical training squad. The father should take some action in the matter of ambulance classes. The father: We will Sir. We will bring it under the notice of the Minister.
*Presumably this was a letter from William Irvine, who was disfellowshipped from the fellowship in 1914. Irvine's thoughts on military service are stated in a letter to Edwards dated August 31, 1923:
... The world is like a ship full of passengers all bent on their own purposes, pleasures and destination--lst, 2nd, 3rd, and crew, with officers--with her seacock opened, and nobody aware of the fact, and each so busy, they don’t notice it till it will be too late. Then, the hubbub will come and the SOS will be wirelessed without any chance of reply. They will go down singing, "Nearer, my God, to Thee," little reckoning where the trouble came from, so blind have men become through all their Godless words and works, but it like a snare and a trap for them because of their blind eyes and deaf ears.
...Eddie Cooney now preaches that we are drifting into a famine. If that were all, we would not have much to fear. I suppose he will be preparing for a further delusion. I wonder if there are many strong on "The Rapture?" I enclose a cutting from Auckland, showing their attitude towards military service. Very far from all I taught.
...The whole Old Testament shows that the Jesus of the New Testament was the Lord of Hosts, who never failed to be with the nations that used the sword, against those who used the sword wickedly. And pacifism is the worst form of delusion one could imagine, and proves them to be just as blind to who Jehovah, of the Old Testament, was and is, as are the Jews concerning the Jesus of the New Testament.
...How can a man fear God and honor the King, and refuse to pay his share in money and service in defence of his country and home? It's just as unchristian to refuse to use the Sword of the Lord of Hosts, against the sword of the Wicked One, as it would be to take the sword of the wicked aggression against others.
...Zechariah 14:3 shows that the Lord will go forth and fight against those who take Jerusalem, as in days gone by, and that, by the Christian nations, in vengeance of God against the Moslem world. I suspect out of this will come the Dragon making war against "Those who have the testimony of Jesus," and they will well deserve it, just as the man who would not help put out the fire, which was destroying another man's house, is sure to have his own in danger. God made all men of one blood, but He also fixed the bounds of their habitations, making it a sacred duty of every man, that wants to dwell in any part of the world, to be willing to defend their frontiers and rights, as he would defend his own family, blood, or home. The method of doing this must be determined by his willingness and ability, but no man can escape the responsibility and have the Spirit of God in him. Neither can a man have the Spirit of Christ or God and do violence to his neighbor's landmark consciously.
...All those who take the sword in defense of the Man of God shall perish by the sword, for God cannot honor or protect such, but will leave them to the consequences of their own. Non-resistance is the way of bringing God to our deliverance. To use this as an argument against warfare in defense of our land and home, is to prostitute the words of Jesus.
Yours very truly in Him,
Sir – I read with interest the news of the Cooneyite or “Go-Preacher” camp being disturbed by some strange illness breaking out. May I suggest this very fact is a strong argument against the claims of this new sect.
They have met denouncing all other creeds as wrong because they alone follow the teaching of Jesus, basing this claim upon the fact that ministers of other churches have fixed salaries while Jesus commanded His disciples to go “without purse” and to not possess “two coats.” They forget that these instructions were given to a little band of followers sent on a brief and urgent mission and was never intended to form a fixed rule for preachers of the gospel through all ages.
Again, they fail to see that the little band sent forth under such instruction had “power to curer all manner of diseases.” May we not ask any Cooneyite “Why are you not able to check this outbreak if your commission holds good?” It is regrettable that so many mushroom sects, extravagant and unscriptural in their teaching, should so delude earnest folk so as to divide the Church of God.
I am, etc. SANE BALANCE
Mr W McClung, evangelist, writes from Auckland protesting against the use of the name “Cooneyite” in connection with their religious sect. The correspondent points out that they strongly object to the name which has been given them by a certain section of the community, who have never shown but an unfriendly and unchristian spirit toward the sect.
He says “We believe that to take any name but that of “Christian” would be dishonouring Him who shed His precious blood to redeem us, therefore this is the only name we can acknowledge." Edward Cooney is one of the evangelists in fellowship with them, continues Mr McClung, but he was not amongst the earliest workers of the movement. A number of the originators, dissatisfied with present-day methods, sought to get back to the Scriptural way of serving God, both for preachers and people, hence the present existence of the “Christians.”
Overseer of the organisation Mr W McClung certified that the applicant was an ordained minister of the gospel "labouring in fellowship with the body of Christians assuming this name only".
It was noted that the ministers had not applied to be officiating ministers under the Marriage Act.
The organisation had no buildings of its own. No salaries were paid and the workers relied on donations...
The appellant: I wanted to go preaching and I asked Mr. McClung, and he appointed me.
Mr. Hay: Strictly speaking, there is no real organisation. Would you put yourself forward in the ordinary way as a minister of religion?
The appellant: Yes. My full time is devoted to it.
The appellant: I take it that I am a minister in the ordinary way preaching the Gospel. We are recognised as ministers of the Gospel in England and are exempt from military service. We also have exemption as ministers of the Gospel from paying the levy here. A copy of a letter advising of the exemption given in England was in the possession of a brother worker in Masterton, the appellant added.
“ Otago University – Walter Thomas Cody, in Electricity; Phoebe Ann Harrington and Archibald Grassam Irvine, equal in Mental Science…”
Archibald G Irvine, a Presbyterian minister at Ashburton, fired the first shot in the action by producing a register with an entry showing the marriage of 1887 and Mary Elizabeth Gunn, a married woman, reading at Tinwald, told the court about witnessing the document which is generally handed to the bride. She was then Miss Meharry