Christian Conventions: Wikis


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Christian Conventions
Old photograph of three early ministers pictured seated
Prominent early preachers (left to right): William Gill, William Irvine, and George Walker.
Classification Protestant
Polity Episcopal
Geographical areas worldwide
Founder William Irvine[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]
Origin 1897
Separations The Message, Cooneyites
Members estimates vary[A]
Official Website none

Christian Conventions is one of several registered names denoting an international, home-based church which originated in Ireland during the last years of the 19th century. Among its members, the church is typically referred to as "The Truth" or "The Way". Outsiders more often use terms such as "Two-by-Twos", "No-name Church", "Cooneyites", "Workers and Friends", and other titles. Church ministers are itinerant and work in pairs (hence the name Two by Twos).

Members hold regular weekly worship gatherings in local homes on Sunday and midweek. The church holds annual regional conventions and public gospel meetings. The church has no official headquarters or official publications. Its hymnbook and various other materials for internal use are produced by outside publishers and printing firms. Printed invitations and advertisements for its open gospel meetings are the only written materials which those outside the church are likely to encounter.

"Christian Conventions" is the name which was registered in the United States. In other countries, the church's names have included "Assemblies of Christians" (Canada), "The Testimony of Jesus" (Britain), "Kristna I Sverige" (Sweden), and "United Christian Conventions" (Australia and other nations).





In 1896, William Irvine was sent from Scotland to southern Ireland as a missionary by the interdenominational Faith Mission organisation. He enjoyed success there and was promoted to superintendent.[14]

Irvine became dissatisfied with Faith Mission precepts, and in 1897 he held his first independent missions and became convinced that he had received a special revelation (his "Alpha message").[15][16] Opposed to all other established churches and clergy, he held that the manner in which the disciples had been sent out in Matthew chapter 10 was a permanent commandment which must still be observed.[17][18] The passage reads in part:

These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.

In October, he held his first mission outside the scope of his Faith Mission activities in the village of Rathmolyon, where he rejected all established churches and set forth his new ministry and doctrine. It was here that he recruited the first adherents to his new message.[1] Aside from condemning all other churches, Irvine's doctrine included: rejection of church buildings, damnation of all followers of churches outside the new fellowship, rejection of paid ministry, rejection of collections[B] during services and collection boxes, and the requirement that those seeking to join the ministry "sell all".[18][19][20][21]

His preaching during this mission influenced others who began to leave their respective churches and join Irvine to form an initial core of followers.[18] Some of these early adherents would become important members of the new church, including John Long, the Carroll family, John Kelly, Edward Cooney—an influential evangelist from the Church of Ireland—and George Walker (an employee of the Cooney family's fabric business[22]), all of whom eventually "sold all" and joined the new movement as itinerant preachers.[23][24]

Early growth

Unlike later secretiveness,[25][26] the church was initially very much in the public eye and newspapers of the day, such as the Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, followed the conflicts that arose over Irvine's message. Some hosted debates in their editorial columns.[27] Fueled by fiery speakers such as Irvine and Cooney, membership growth was rapid. In 1900, the Faith Mission formally disassociated itself from Irvine and any of its workers found to be participating in the new movement.[28]

Scan of a 1910 newspaper article regarding Tramp Preachers, Doctrines, Methods, Money and Lapses
Extract of an article from The Impartial Reporter and Farmers' Journal from 1910[29] documenting the early phases of the Christian Conventions. See note for link to the full article.[C]

As the ranks of its ministry increased, the new church's outreach expanded. In 1903, the first annual convention was held in Ireland. Later that year, William Irvine, accompanied by Irvine Weir and George Walker, took his message to North America.[30] Missions to continental Europe, Australia and Asia followed.[31]

In 1904, it was noted that the requirement to "sell all" was no longer mentioned in sermons.[32] A two-tiered system was instituted whereby a distinction was made between homeless itinerant missionaries (called "workers") and those who were now allowed to retain homes and jobs (called "friends" or "saints").[18][33] Weekly home meetings began to be held and presided over by "elders" (usually the householder). During the next few years, this change became universal. The church continued to grow rapidly and held regular annual conventions lasting several weeks at a time. Irvine traveled widely during this period, attending conventions and preaching worldwide, and began sending workers from the British Isles to follow up and expand interest in various areas.[34][35]

A hierarchy was instituted by Irvine wherein his most trusted associates in various regions were designated as "overseers" or "head workers". Each of these was assigned a certain geographical sphere and coordinated the efforts of the ministry within his area.[36] These overseers included William and Jack Carroll, George Walker and Willie Gill. William Irvine continued to have the ultimate say over their conduct and finances, and his activities within their fields became regarded as "interference".[37][38] Irvine was slow to develop an effective means to keep in direct contact with the body of workers and lay members. Except for such annual conventions as he was able to attend across the globe, communications and instructions from him passed through the overseers, which opened the door to what followed.[39]


William Irvine's progressive revelation continued to evolve over this time, and eschatological themes began to appear in sermons.[40] By 1914, he had begun to preach that the Age of Grace, during which his "Alpha Gospel" had been proclaimed, was coming to a close. As his message turned towards indicating a new era, which held no place for the ministry and hierarchy that had rapidly grown up around the "Alpha Gospel", resentment arose on the part of several overseers.[41]

Australian overseer John Hardie broke with Irvine and excluded him from speaking at the South Australia convention in late 1913. As 1914 progressed, he was excluded from speaking in a growing number of regions, as more overseers broke away from him.[42] There were many excommunications of Irvine loyalists in various fields during the following years, and by 1919, the split was final, with Irvine moving to Jerusalem and transmitting his "Omega Message" to his core followers from there. Lacking any organizational means of making his case before the membership, Irvine's ouster occurred quietly.[39] Most members continued following the overseers, and few outside the leadership knew the details behind Irvine's disappearance from the scene, as no public mention of the split seems to have been made.[43] Mention of Irvine's name was forbidden, and a new explanation of the group's history was introduced from which Irvine's role was erased.[D]

A second division occurred in 1928 when Edward Cooney was expelled for criticizing the hierarchy and other elements that had arisen within the church, which he saw as serious deviations from the church's original message. Cooney himself adhered to the earlier, unfettered itinerant ministry, moving about wherever he felt he was needed.[44] He rejected the appointment of head workers to geographic regions and the "Living Witness" doctrine (i.e., that salvation entails hearing the gospel preached directly by a worker and seeing the gospel made alive in the sacrificial lives of the ministry), bank accounts controlled by the overseers, use of halls for meetings and the registrations under official names.[18] Cooney's loyal supporters joined him, including some of the early workers, and they stayed faithful to what they perceived to be the original tenets.[45] The term "Cooneyite" today chiefly refers to the group which separated (or were excommunicated) along with Cooney and who continue as an independent group. Prior to the schism, onlookers had labeled the entire movement as "Cooneyites" due to Edward Cooney's prominence in the early growth of the church. There are areas where this older usage continues.[46]


These schisms were not widely publicized, and few were aware that they had occurred. Most supporters of Irvine, and later Cooney, were either coaxed into abandoning those loyalties or put out of the fellowship. Among these were the early workers May Carroll (who eventually abandoned Irvine), Irvine Weir (one of the first workers in North America, who was excommunicated for continued contact with Cooney and his objection to registration of the church under names[47][48]), and Tom Elliot (who had conducted baptisms of the first workers and was nicknamed "Tom the Baptist").[49]

The emergence of the sect caused severe splits within local Protestant churches in Ireland at a time of increased pressure for independence by the Catholic majority. Because of animosity, they did not form a united front with other Protestant communities.[50][51] Although the church was noted for extreme anti-Catholic views, it played a very minor role during the struggle for Irish independence. One exception was the involvement of the Pearson family in the still-controversial Coolacrease incident.[52][53]

In the mid-1920s, a magazine article entitled "The Cooneyites or Go-Preachers"[54] disturbed the leadership, who made efforts to have it withdrawn,[55] particularly when material from the article was added to the widely distributed reference Heresies Exposed.[56] During this period, the church modified its evangelical outreach. The public preaching of its early days was replaced with low-key "gospel meetings", which were attended only by members and invitees. The church began to assert that it had a first century origin.[43][57] It asserted that it had no organization or name and disclaimed any unique doctrines. The church shunned publicity, making the church very difficult for outsiders to follow.[58]

The North American church saw a struggle for influence between overseers George Walker in the east and John (Jack) Carroll. In 1928, an agreement was forged between the senior overseers which limited workers operating outside of their appointed geographical spheres, known as "fields": workers traveling into an area controlled by another overseer had to first submit their revelation to,[59] and obtain permission from, the local overseer.[60] The exact boundaries between fields was worked out over time, and there were areas where workers under the control of more than one overseer operated, causing conflict.[61]

Scan of page 3 of the 1942 statement by overseer George Walker to the Selective Service on Christian Conventions stationery
Last page of senior overseer George Walker's statement to the U.S. Selective Service in 1942 under the name "Christian Conventions".[62]

During the First World War, the church obtained exemption from military service in Britain under the name "The Testimony of Jesus". However, there were problems outside the British Isles, and exemption was refused in many other areas.[63] With the start of the Second World War, formal names were adopted and used in registering the church with various governments.[18][64] These names continued to be used for official business, and stationery bearing those names was printed for the use of overseers. Most members were not aware of these names. Some who dissented after learning of the practice were expelled by the workers.[65]

After the death of Australian overseer William Carroll in 1953, members attempted to reintegrate adherents of William Irvine and Edward Cooney. Rather than producing further unity, the attempt produced conflicts over the church's history, names, hierarchy and other controversies. In an effort to enforce harmony, many excommunications took place.[66][67]

The earliest workers and overseers were succeeded by a new generation of leaders. In Europe, William Irvine died in 1947,[68] Edward Cooney died in 1960,[69] and John Long (expelled in 1907) died in 1962. British overseer Willie Gill died in 1951. In the South Pacific, New Zealand overseer Wilson McClung died in 1944, and Australian overseer John Hardie died in 1961. In North America, both Jack Carroll,[70] the Western overseer, and Irvine Weir died in 1957 while Eastern overseer George Walker died in 1981.[71]

Its policy of not revealing its name, finances,[72] doctrine or history,[E] and avoidance of publicity.[73][74] kept the church from the public's eye.[75] The publication of The Secret Sect in the early 1980s, followed by press reports and public statements by former members, however, increased public awareness of the church.[76] Availability of information on the Internet since the 1990s has also resulted in a loosening of the strict standards demanded of members.[77]


Apart from their hymnals, officially published documentation or statements from the Christian Conventions are scarce, which makes it difficult to speak in depth about its beliefs. Some former members and critics of the church have made statements about its beliefs, although these points have rarely been publicly responded to by any authorities within the church.[2]

All the church's teachings are expressed orally, and the church does not publish doctrine or statements of faith.[4][78] Workers hold that all church teachings are based solely on the Bible.[F][G] A catchphrase frequently used to describe the church is: "The church in the home, and the ministry without a home".[18][79] The church does not own church buildings. These are seen as inconsistent with biblical Christianity and were strongly denounced by early workers.[80][81] Its ministers do not own homes or draw a salary. The church has upheld these practices since its inception.[82][83]

The Bible is the only book used in services. The Bible itself is held as insufficient for salvation unless its words be made "alive" through preaching of its ministers.[H][78][84][85][86][87][88][89] The extemporaneous preaching of the ministry is considered to be guided by God[90] and must be heard directly.[91] Great weight is given to the thoughts of workers, especially more senior workers.[92] Salvation is achieved through willingness to uphold the church's standards, by faithfully following in "the way", and by personal worthiness.[85][93] Doctrines such as predestination, original sin, justification by faith alone, and redemption as the sole basis of salvation are rejected.[I][18][94][95][96][97] The church is exclusive,[26][98] and all other churches, religions and ministries are held to be false.[13][18][99][100][101][102]

Members are encouraged to attend meetings and to speak at them.[103] Other standards include modest dress and avoiding activities deemed to be worldly or frivolous[4][104] (such as smoking, television, and motion pictures).[75][85][105][106][107] Standards and practices vary geographically: for example, in some areas fermented wine is used in Sunday meetings, in other areas grape juice is used; in some areas people who have divorced and remarried are not allowed to participate in meetings, in others they may.[105][108][109] The use of television and other communication media is discouraged in some areas, based on the stance of the local workers and overseers.[107][110] Requirements have been loosened in recent years in response to criticisms aired on the Internet.[77]


The church has rejected the doctrine of the Trinity since its inception.[J][111][112][113] Though members believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they hold a unitarian view of Christ.[2][114] The Holy Spirit is held as an attitude or force from God. Jesus is God's son, a fully human figure who came to earth to establish a way of ministry and salvation,[115] but not God himself.[116][117] Great stress is laid upon the "example life" of Jesus, as a pattern for believers and the ministry.[118][98]


Baptism by one of the church's ministers is considered a necessary step for full participation, including re-baptism of persons baptised by other churches.[2][109][110] Candidates approved by the local workers are baptised by immersion.[119][120]

Church name

Scan of the application for incorporation in the Province of Alberta signed by overseer Willis Propp and senior workers Jim Knipe and Dennis Einboden
Application for incorporation in the Province of Alberta under the name "Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies".

The church represents itself as nondenominational and without a name. Those outside the church often use descriptive terms such as "Two-by-Twos" (from their method of sending out ministers in pairs),[121] "No-name Church", "Cooneyites", "Workers and Friends", "Christian fellowship", "disciples of Jesus, "Friends", "Go-preachers", "People on the Way", "Tramp Preachers", among other titles.[109][110][122][123]

Though overseers and head workers use registered names when necessary to conduct official business, most members do not associate a formal name with the church.[124] Instead, they refer to the church as "The Truth" or "The Way".[125] Few members are aware that the church has official names[84] used for church business.[126] Registered names vary from nation to nation. In the United States, the name used is "Christian Conventions",[84] in Canada "Assemblies of Christians" is used,[127] in Britain it is "the Testimony of Jesus",[109][128] in Sweden the registered name is "Kristna I Sverige",[129] and "United Christian Conventions" has been used in Australia and other nations.[130] In 1995, controversy arose in Alberta, Canada, when part of the church incorporated as the "Alberta Society of Christian Assemblies". The entity was dissolved in 1996 after its existence became generally known.[131]


Many church members hold to a long-standing view that the church has no earthly founder,[132] and that only they represent the "true Christian Church", originating directly with Christ during the first century AD.[26][75][133][134] Some members have more recently made statements that hint either at a beginning during the closing years of the nineteenth century[107] or at a notable resurgence around that time.[135]


The following are terms used by the church with the definitions giving the sense commonly intended and understood by members.[136]

  • Church: generally, a small, local congregation that meets in a home; can refer to a larger group of believers or to the church as a whole. This term is never used to refer to a building, except when referring to church buildings of other denominations, or occasionally when speaking metaphorically. Used colloquially when talking to strangers to refer to Sunday/Wednesday activity, e.g., "I'll be at church until midday."
  • Meeting: formal religious gatherings.
  • Field: a geographical region to which workers have been assigned (similar to parish).
  • Mission: a series of larger meetings known as gospel meetings the function of which is proselytizing. Generally a sequence of such gospel meetings will conclude with a day during which—as a hymn is sung—those interested may rise to their feet and thereby profess their willingness to follow the teachings of the church (or "the way").
  • Friend, saint: adherent or member, the laity. Collectively "the friends," or "the saints."
  • Profess: to make a public declaration of one's willingness to become a member, which is generally a sign that a person may then participate in the prayer and testimony sections of Wednesday night and Sunday morning meetings or at designated testimony times in larger gatherings. Professing constitutes an intermediate stage. Following baptism, the partaking of bread and grape juice (or wine) is also permitted, which in some fields occurs between the elder's testimony and the final hymn.
  • Bishop, elder, deacon: a leader of a church. Normally the male head of the house in which meetings are held. The bishop/elder is usually the person in charge of calling the start of the meeting. When a worker is present, he or she will generally initiate and direct the gathering instead. The deacon is considered to be an alternate to the elder in some areas.
  • Worker, servant, apostle: terms used to denote the church's semi-itinerant, homeless ministers. These are unmarried (several exceptions were made during the first half of the twentieth century to allow married couples to enter the ministry), and do not have any formal training. Workers go out in same-sex pairs (hence the term "Two by Two"), consisting of a more experienced worker with a junior companion.
  • Head worker, overseer: the senior worker in charge of a geographic area, roughly corresponding to the position of a bishop in Catholicism. important to the history of doctrinal differences and field variation, however, is the absence of a hierarchical position higher than overseer—such as a pope—which might guarantee doctrinal and practical unanimity.

Practice and structure


The church holds that faith and salvation may only be obtained by hearing the preaching of its ministers (typically called workers),[7] and by observing their sacrificial lives. During the early years, this requirement was referred to as the "Living Witness Doctrine," though that term is no longer used. The minister must be heard and observed in person, rather than by broadcasts, recordings, books or tracts, or other indirect communication.[2][134] The church's ministerial structure is based on Jesus' instructions to his apostles found in Matthew Chapter 10, verses 8–16 [1] (with similar passages in Mark[2] and Luke[3]). The church's view is that, following these Biblical examples, its ministers have no permanent dwelling places, minister in pairs, sell all and go out with only minimal worldly possessions, and rely only upon hospitality and generosity.[137] Most ministers receive their support and income directly from lay members, and have no fixed address.[18]

The option of entering the ministry is theoretically open to every baptized member, although it has been many decades since married people were accepted into the ministry. Female workers operate in the same manner as male workers. They do not rise to the position of head worker, do not lead meetings when a male worker is present, and occupy a lower rank than male workers.[138]

Workers do not engage in any formal religious training.[132][139][140][141][142][143] Head workers pair new workers with senior companions until they are deemed ready to move beyond a junior position.[144] Workers organize and assign members to the home meetings, appoint elders, and decide controversies among members. Workers are not registered marriage celebrants, so members are married by secular functionaries (such as a justice of the peace). However, workers will give sermons and prayers at members' weddings if requested, and they officiate at the funerals of members.[109][145]


The church holds several types of gathering, in various locations throughout the year. Quietness is encouraged in preparation beforehand.[146]

  • Gospel meeting: This gathering is the meeting most likely to be observed by and open to outsiders.[147] Gospel meetings were once typically held in tents, which the workers would set up as they traveled, but are now usually held in a rented hall or similar venue.[K] Gospel meetings are held specifically to attract new members, though professing members typically comprise the bulk of the attendees. This type of meeting consists of a quiet period, congregational singing using their hymnal (often accompanied by piano), and sermons delivered by the workers. Gospel meetings are not regularly scheduled events, but are held when a worker believes there may be people in the region who would be receptive.
  • Sunday morning meeting: Participation in this closed[132][148][149] meeting is generally restricted to members. It is usually held in the home of an elder, and consists of a capella singing from the regular hymnal,[150] partaking of communion emblems[110][151] (a piece of leavened bread and a cup of wine or grape juice)[152] by members in good standing, prayer, and a sharing of testimonies.
  • Bible study: Participation in this closed meeting is generally restricted to members, and is usually held in the home of an elder. Members are assigned a list of Bible verses or a topic of study for consideration during the week, for discussion at the next meeting. As the meeting progresses, each member shares thoughts regarding the scripture or topic. Thoughts are shared by individual members in turn, and members do not engage in discussions during the meeting. The Bible study meeting includes hymns and prayers.
  • Union meeting: This is a gathering of several congregations, and follows the format of the Sunday morning meetings. Union meetings are not open to the public.
  • Special meeting: A special meeting is a gathering of members from a large area and is held as a private gathering, often in a rented hall. This meeting lasts an entire day, and includes sermons by local and visiting workers. The sermons are interspersed with prayers, hymns, and testimonies.
  • Convention: These annual events are attended by members from within a larger geographical area than for the special meetings. Conventions are held over several days, usually in rural areas on properties with facilities to handle housing, feeding, and other necessities for those who attend. These services generally follow the format used for special meetings. Conventions are not open to the public, although outsiders often attend by invitation.
  • Workers' meeting: These gatherings are not open to either the public or general membership. Attendance and participation are restricted to workers and certain invited members. The meeting may be used to disseminate any instructions from senior workers, or to issue decisions about controversial matters. They are held during conventions, or as necessary. These meetings include prayer, a period for testimonies from any workers wishing to share, and may include statements by senior workers in attendance.

Organization and records

Members of the church assert that it does not have a formal organization.[143][153][154] No headquarters are maintained and the church remains unincorporated in most areas. No accounting to the membership is made of funds collected or spent.[75] Funds are handled through stewardships, trusts, cash transactions and similar means.[L]

Other than invitations to its open gospel meetings, no materials are published for outside circulation.[155][156] Materials in printed and copied form for circulation among the members include sermon notes, convention notes, Bible study lists, convention lists and worker lists. The group sees the internal dissemination of worker letters as continuing the practice of the early Church and the epistolary work of the original apostles.[157]


Control rests in the hands of a small group of senior male overseers; each oversees a geographic region. Under each senior overseer are male head workers who oversee a single state, province or similar area,[109][110][158][159] and handle the pairing and field assignments of workers for that area. Each pair of workers has charge over several local meetings. The senior worker of the pair has authority over the junior. The local meetings are hosted in the homes of elders who report to the workers. Correspondence such as reporting, finances, and instructions are often communicated according to this hierarchy.[160]


By 1909,[161] the church had compiled its first hymnal, titled The Go-Preacher's Hymn Book and containing 125 hymns. The present English-language hymnal, or "hymn book" as it is more commonly known, Hymns Old and New,[150] was first published in 1913[9] with several subsequent editions and translations; it contains 412 hymns, many of which were written or adapted by members of the church, particularly workers.[162] A second hymnal, also titled Hymns Old and New, is sometimes used during gospel meetings. This smaller collection consists of the first 170 hymns of the full hymn book, which is organized into "gospel" and "fellowship" hymns. Another version of the hymn book, containing only words without musical notation, is used primarily by children and those who don't read music.[163] Hymn books in other languages, such as "Himnos" in Spanish, contain many hymns translated from English and sung to the same tunes, as well as original non-English hymns.

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ As the church does not publish any membership statistics, outside researchers give a wide range of estimates. In part, this depends on who is included as a member (children of members, unbaptised participants, lapsed members, etc.) and whether the metric estimates are based upon known numbers of annual conventions, numbers of ministers, etc. One researcher has said that people on the fringes of church membership can be up to 20 times the number of regular members.[164] The Sydney Morning Herald gave an estimate of between 1 and 4 million worldwide in the 1980s.[75] A sociology masters thesis from 1964 estimated U.S. membership at 300,000–500,000 with a world membership between 1 and 2 million[165]. Benton Johnson updates the metrics used by Crow and arrives at a figure of 48,000-190,000 for the United States only.[105] George Chryssides states that membership numbers are uncertain, and gives an estimate for the United States during 1998 as ranging from 10,000 to 100,000, with a worldwide membership probably three times the U.S. figure.[110] Estimates in other reference materials fall somewhere in between these.
  2. ^ Collection refers to the donation money collected from a church congregation during a service, normally by means of a collection plate or box.
  3. ^ To view the complete 1910 article shown above, click here.
  4. ^ "The workers declared that Irvine 'had lost the Lord's anointing' and banned him from all assemblies. But they also had to devise a new source of authority for the movement's very special brand of Christianity. They did this by an ingenious falsification of their own history, in which Irvine's role was obliterated. And armed with this new history and the unity to enforce a ban on Irvine, the workers declared that the founder's name was not to be mentioned within the movement. He was excised from the shared memory of the organization he had founded." —Johnson in Klass and Weisgrau [25]
  5. ^ "In very short order they also destroyed Irvine's earlier stature as a charismatic innovator by explaining that the sect he had founded was actually a collective rediscovery of the earliest form of Christianity, which had existed as small persecuted bands since the first century." —Benton Johnson[166]
  6. ^ "Two by twos use the Bible as their sole source of authority and have developed no statement of belief apart from Scriptures. They practice the Lord's Supper (communion) weekly and practice believer's baptism, rebaptizing new members. Their lifestyle includes modesty of appearance, avoidance of worldly activities such as watching television, and usually pacificism." —George D. Chryssides[167]
  7. ^ "Members shun publicity, refuse to acquire church property, and issue no ministerial credentials or doctrinal literature, believing that the Bible (King James Version) is the only textbook and that, to be effective, the communication of spiritual life must take place orally, person to person. The only printed documents are hymnals." —J. Gordon Melton[168]
  8. ^ "They [the ministers] are considered 'the word made flesh' in our day." —Christian Research Institute[98]
  9. ^ Hymns which contained hints of salvation by grace, trinitarianism or redemption based upon the blood of Christ were purged or changed in a 1987 revision.[169]
  10. ^ "It appears that the sect's theological position on the divinity of Christ, the atonement, and man's justification before God, has never changed, yet at mission meetings and in private discussion with people whom they successfully proselytized, preachers gave the misleading impression that their church was evangelical, and that in no way did it deviate from basic Christian beliefs." —Doug Parker and Helen Parker[170]
  11. ^ "Ordinary meetings among lay believers are held in houses, but periodically the itinerants visit each district, and there they borrow a hall (often the Church hall of an unsuspecting minister) for a preaching meeting for the public at large." —Bryan R. Wilson[18]
  12. ^ "All property at the group's disposal is in the hands of individuals who are expected to make use of it for the good of the movement. Convention sites are owned by members and the donations of money the workers receive are theirs to spend as they see fit. Assets are held in trust and no accounting is made." —Benton Johnson[171]


  1. ^ a b Dair Rioga Local History Group 2005, pp. 322–323.
  2. ^ a b c d e Melton 2003, p. 611.
  3. ^ Beit-Hallahmi 1993, pg. 298.
  4. ^ a b c Sanders 1969, p. 166.
  5. ^ Chryssides 2001, p. 330.
  6. ^ Scrutator. "A New Sect," The Irish Presbyterian, Belfast, Northern Ireland. March 1905, p. 38.
  7. ^ a b "The Tramp Preachers. Doctrines they Preach. Their Methods and Procedure." The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 25 August 1910, p. 8.
  8. ^ "The Tramp Convention. Big Gathering Near Enniskillen," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 6 July 1911, p. 5.
  9. ^ a b "Pilgrim Convention at Crocknacrieve," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 3 July 1913, p. 8.
  10. ^ "Go-Preachers' Convention. Some Strange Sentiments," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 31 July 1913, p. 8.
  11. ^ "Go-Preachers Awarded Damages. Mr. Eddy Cooney Wins," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 18 December 1913, p. 3.
  12. ^ "Romance of the Tramp Preachers," Ideas, Manchester, England. 13 July 1917, p. 2.
  13. ^ a b Clark 1949, p. 184.
  14. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 1–2.
  15. ^ Dair Rioga Local History Group 2005, pp. 322-323, 329.
  16. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 18.
  17. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 2-4.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Wilson, Bryan R. (1993). "The Persistence of Sects". DISKUS. Archived from the original on 14 December 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
  19. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 8–9, 12.
  20. ^ Dair Rioga Local History Group 2005, pp. 324-326.
  21. ^ Kropp, Cherie (19 January 2006). "Life and Ministry of William Irvine". Telling The Truth. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  22. ^ "The Convention at Crocknacrieve. Outline of Proceedings." The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 28 July 1910.
  23. ^ Daniel 1993, pp. 276–279 preserves the text of the 1905 "List of Workers," which lists the years when each of the early workers began their ministry.
  24. ^ Kropp, Cherie (19 January 2006). "Life and Ministry of William Irvine". Telling The Truth. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  25. ^ a b Klass and Weisgrau 1999, p. 378.
  26. ^ a b c Hilliard, David (June 2005). "Unorthodox Christianity in South Australia: Was South Australia really a paradise of dissent?". History Australia (Sydney, New South Wales: Australian Historical Association) 2 (2). doi:10.2104/ha050038. ISSN 1833-4881. 
  27. ^ Johnson 1995, p. 46.
  28. ^ Govan, John George. "General Notes and News," Bright Words, Rothesay, Scotland: Faith Mission. August 1901.
  29. ^ "The Tramp Preachers. Doctrines They Preach," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 25 August 1910.
  30. ^ The immigration record is displayed at "A Short History Timeline for 'the Truth". Research and Information Services, Inc.. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2009. 
  31. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 46.
  32. ^ "The Tramps. Change In Their Views," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 13 October 1904, p. 8.
  33. ^ Wallis 1981, p. 123.
  34. ^ "Tramp Preachers Convention Opens at Crocknacrieve," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 7 July 1910.
  35. ^ "A New Religion Operating in Australia," The Truth, Auckland, New Zealand. 18 May 1907, p. 8.
  36. ^ Johnson 1995, p. 48.
  37. ^ Daniel 1993, pgs. 173-175.
  38. ^ Kropp, Cherie (8 January 2009). "Life and Ministry of William Irvine". Telling The Truth. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  39. ^ a b Wallis 1981, p. 130.
  40. ^ "Cooneyites Await the Millenium," The New York Times, New York, New York. 6 August 1909, p. 4.
  41. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 62.
  42. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 63.
  43. ^ a b Parker and Parker 1982, p. 64.
  44. ^ Johnson 1995, pp. 53–55.
  45. ^ Roberts 1990, pp. 145–154.
  46. ^ Melton 2003, pp. 611-612.
  47. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 85-86.
  48. ^ Kropp, Cherie (8 January 2009). "Life and Ministry of William Irvine". Telling The Truth. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  49. ^ Roberts 1990, p. 153.
  50. ^ Dair Rioga Local History Group 2005, p. 333.
  51. ^ Megahey 2000, p. 155.
  52. ^ McConway, Philip "The Pearsons of Coolacrease," Tullamore Tribune. County Offaly, Ireland. 7 November 2007, p. 15.
  53. ^ McConway, Philip "The Pearsons of Coolacrease," Tullamore Tribune. County Offaly, Ireland. 14 November 2007, p. 16.
  54. ^ Rule, W.M. "The Cooneyites or Go-Preachers - A Warning," Our Hope. New York, New York. January 1924.
  55. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 82.
  56. ^ Irvine 1929, pp. 73–78.
  57. ^ Dair Rioga Local History Group 2005, p. 329-330.
  58. ^ Johnson 1995, pp. 37-38, 42.
  59. ^ Roberts 1990, p. 143.
  60. ^ Dair Rioga Local History Group 2005, p. 330.
  61. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 85.
  62. ^ For full text of the letter, see Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 117–119.
  63. ^ St. Clair and St. Clair 2004, p. 223.
  64. ^ Letters of Rittenhouse and Sweetland, quoted in Daniel 1993, pp. 281, 283-284.
  65. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 85–86.
  66. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 88-92.
  67. ^ Roberts 1990, pp. 225–226.
  68. ^ "William Irvine Had To Go," The (Sunday) Palestine Post, Jerusalem. 16 March 1947.
  69. ^ "Edward Cooney. A Great Figure Passes," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 23 June 1960.
  70. ^ Fiset, Bill "700 Attend Rites for John Carroll," The Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. 7 November 2007. p. 15.
  71. ^ "George Walker Dead at 104," The Evening Bulletin. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 8 November 1981.
  72. ^ Wilson and Barker 2005, p. 299.
  73. ^ "The Cooneyites, also called the Two-by-Two’s, have developed the shunning of publicity into a fine art." —Melton 2003, p. xix.
  74. ^ Mann 1955, p. 15.
  75. ^ a b c d e Gill, Alan "The Most Secret Society in the World," The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Australia. 30 June 1984, p. 37.
  76. ^ Daniel 1993, p. 176.
  77. ^ a b "Proselytizing Hindered by Internet" Religion Watch, North Bellmore, New York. July/August 1999, p. 3.
  78. ^ a b Irvine 1929, p. 76.
  79. ^ Overseer John "Jack" Carroll quoted in Parker and Parker 1982, p. 99.
  80. ^ Irvine 1929, pp. 75–76.
  81. ^ "Convention of 'Tramps' Held at Crocknacrieve," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 23 July 1908, p. 8.
  82. ^ "Tramp Preachers in Newtownards," The Newtownards Chronicle. Newtownards (County Down), Northern Ireland. 28 May 1904, pg. 3.
  83. ^ "The Recent Tramp Convention Held at Crocknacrieve. What the Tramps Believe. A Reply from Within," The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 20 August 1908, pg. 8.
  84. ^ a b c Wilkens 2007, p. 132.
  85. ^ a b c Martineau, Kim "Sect Told It Must Find New Lodgings," The Albany Times Union. Albany, New York. 20 July 2000.
  86. ^ Nervig 1941, p. 133.
  87. ^ Missouri Synod 1932, v. 51, p. 110.
  88. ^ Hosfeld, Kathleen "Criticism clouds church's gathering," The Skagit Valley Herald, Washington (state). 17 August 1983, p. 2.
  89. ^ Woster 1988, pp. 11, 15, 17.
  90. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 16, 105.
  91. ^ Woster 1988, pp. 12, 15.
  92. ^ Fortt 1994, pp. 31, 114-5, 192.
  93. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 100.
  94. ^ "Pilgrim Convention At Crocknacrieve." The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 3 July 1913.
  95. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 102.
  96. ^ Paul 1977, p. 19.
  97. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 101-102.
  98. ^ a b c CRI. "Two By Twos". Christian Research Institute. Archived from the original on 15 December 2009. Retrieved 15 December 2009. 
  99. ^ Beckford 2003, p. 15.
  100. ^ Paul 1977, pp. 6-7.
  101. ^ Wallis 1981, p. 124.
  102. ^ Woster 1988, pp. 13, 22.
  103. ^ Worker Leo Stancliff quoted in Daniel 1993, pp. 128–129.
  104. ^ Chryssides 2001, p. 330-331.
  105. ^ a b c Johnson 1995, p. 40.
  106. ^ Lewis 1998, p. 494.
  107. ^ a b c Worker Walter Pollock quoted in Preecs, Bart "Two by Twos," The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington (state). 5 June 1983, p. B6.
  108. ^ Preecs, Bart "Nameless congregation holds strong grip on faithful," The Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington (state). 5 June 1983, p. B6.
  109. ^ a b c d e f Robinson, B.A. (22 April 2009). "The Church with no name". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. Archived from the original on 1 December 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009. 
  110. ^ a b c d e f Chryssides (Dictionary) 2001, p. 331.
  111. ^ McClure, W.J. "Letter," The Treasury. New Zealand. July 1907, pp. 102–103.
  112. ^ Walker 2007, pp. 117–118.
  113. ^ Kropp, Cherie (20 April 2008). "2x2 Fact Sheet". Telling The Truth. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009. 
  114. ^ Gordon Melton quoted in "Doubts About A Mystery Church," Alberta Report. Edmonton, Alberta. September 15, 1997, v. 24, no. 30, p. 34.
  115. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 101–103.
  116. ^ Fortt 1994, pp. 241–243.
  117. ^ Worker Eldon Kendrew quoted in "Invisible Sect Has Thousands of Followers," The Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alberta. 30 July 1994, p. E7.
  118. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 102.
  119. ^ Lewis 1998, p. 494.
  120. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 14.
  121. ^ Enroth 1992, p. 133.
  122. ^ Stutzman, Brad. "The Church with No Name Comes to Town." The Sunday Sun, Williamson County, Texas. 14 July 1991, sec. 1, p. 2.
  123. ^ Lewis 1998, p. 494.
  124. ^ Nervig 1941, p. 132,
  125. ^ Dair Rioga Local History Group 2005, p. 327.
  126. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 86.
  127. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 107.
  128. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 73.
  129. ^ "Swedish Incorporation Papers" (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2009. 
  130. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 107, 124.
  131. ^ "Alberta Incorporation Papers". Research and Information Services, Inc.. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 14 June 2009. 
  132. ^ a b c Chandler, Russell "Nameless Sect Travels 'Secret' Path," The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. 13 September 1983, p. A2.
  133. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 105-107.
  134. ^ a b Anderson, Kathie "Church without a Name," The Bellingham Herald. Bellingham, Washington (state). 20 August 1983, p. 4a.
  135. ^ Jaenen 2003, pp. 517–535.
  136. ^ For terminology definitions, see Fortt 1994, pp. 15–202.
  137. ^ Mann 1955, p. 110.
  138. ^ Fortt 1994, pp. 96, 117-118, 193.
  139. ^ Mann 1955, p. 29.
  140. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 104.
  141. ^ Müller, Winfried (1990). "Die Namenlosen". Winfried Müller and Dialog-Zentrum, Berlin. Archived from the original on 1 December 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009. 
  142. ^ Climenhaga, David, "Invisible Sect Has Thousands of Followers," The Calgary Herald. Calgary, Alberta. 30 July 1994, p. E7.
  143. ^ a b Bruce 1996, p. 70.
  144. ^ Fortt 1994, pp. 59, 236-237.
  145. ^ Crow 1964, p. 38.
  146. ^ This list of meeting types follows that in Daniel 1993, pp. 13–15.
  147. ^ Paul 1977, p. 8.
  148. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, p. 93.
  149. ^ Martineau, Kim "Conservative religious group peacefully goes about its business," The Albany Times Union. Albany, New York. 18 July 2000.
  150. ^ a b 1987 Hymns Old and New. (
  151. ^ Lewis 1998, p. 494.
  152. ^ Crow 1964, p. 10.
  153. ^ Overseer Charles Steffen quoted in Martineau, Kim "Farm Plays Host to a Low Profile Sect," The Albany Times Union. Albany, New York. 14 July 2000.
  154. ^ Maynard, Steve "Gospel Tent Meeting Draws 800 Participants For Spiritual Fellowship," The Walla Walla Union Bulletin. Walla Walla, Washington (state). 11 June 1982, p. 11.
  155. ^ Kropp, Cherie (19 January 2006). "Life and Ministry of William Irvine". Telling The Truth. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  156. ^ Daniel 1993, pp. 9–11.
  157. ^ Crow 1964, p. 27.
  158. ^ Johnson 1995, pp. 44-52.
  159. ^ Lewis 1998, p. 494.
  160. ^ Daniel 1993, pp. 11–16.
  161. ^ "The Tramps. The 'Jesus Way.' Do They Follow It?" The Impartial Reporter and Farmers Journal, Enniskillin, Northern Ireland. 7 October 1909, p. 8.
  162. ^ Fortt 1994, p. 197.
  163. ^ "The R.L. Allan website's hymnal list". R.L. Alan and Son, Ltd.. Archived from the original on 11 October 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2009. 
  164. ^ Hosfeld, Kathleen "Criticism clouds church's gathering," The Skagit Valley Herald, Washington (state). 17 August 1983, p. 1.
  165. ^ Crow 1964, pp. 2, 16.
  166. ^ Johnson 1995, pp. 50.
  167. ^ Chryssides (Dictionary) 2001 p. 330.
  168. ^ Melton 2003, p. 611.
  169. ^ Kropp, Cherie (19 January 2006). "Life and Ministry of William Irvine". Telling The Truth. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  170. ^ Parker and Parker 1982, pp. 102-103.
  171. ^ Johnson 1995, p. 42.


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