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Faith Mission
Edinburgh, Scotland
Revised Dec. 18, 2018

Faith Mission

Letter by Rev. Colin N. Peckham, Principal
Regarding William Irvine's Service with Faith Mission
(Founded 1886)
Tel.: O31-664 4336
2 Drum Street Gilmerton
Edinburgh EH17 8QG

Principal: Rev. C. N. Peckham, B.A., M.Th

29th. May, 1991.

Re: William Irvine.

Dear Mrs. Kropp

In reply to your request for information concerning William Irvine's connection with the Faith Mission, William Irvine joined the Faith Mission in l895, and after working in Scotland, came across to Ireland probably around May of 1896. The Faith Mission was founded by J.G. Govan in 1886, as an evangelistic agency for the villages of Scotland, and the work was extended to Ireland in 1892. At some time in 1897, Mr. Irvine went to work in the south of Ireland, where he is referred to in our magazine Bright Words as superintending the Work there from 1898 to 1900. The last reference to him as such, is the issue of Nov/Dec. 1900.

There is reference in what we call "Location of Pilgrims" to a mission in Rathmolyon beginning Oct 10, 1897, by William Irvine following which he went to Co. Tipperary.

In the magazine issue for June/July, 1898 the report of the Work by Mrs. Pendreigh appeared as follows:

"Since coming across to...the south of Ireland, we have thoroughly enjoyed the Work. In some places the opposition was great, but by prayer and patient endurance battles were fought and won....During some missions several (Roman Catholics) were brought in, and I believe savingly converted...most of the work has been in and around Co. Tipperary, and one or two fully successful missions in Kings and Queen's Counties....I don't think any of us could go away with a grudge in our our D. P. (District Pilgrim) has the happy plan of making us cross hands...and sing some chorus as a pledge of being true to God and to one another."

The D.P. referred to was, of course, William Irvine , and Mrs. Pendreigh later became one of his most devoted followers and remained so all her life.

In the August, 1898 issue of our magazine, William Irvine's name appears for the first time as superintending the work in the south.

"A brief visit to Co. Tipperary occupied the remainder of my stay across the channel...with Pilgrims Pendreigh and McLean I attended five meetings at was a joy to meet so many bright and sympathetic children of God in that part of the country, and to see so much satisfactory fruit remaining from the missions held by Pilgrim Irvine and the sisters during the past 12 months."

In 1898 on the list of workers in Govan's report of the work, Mr. Irvine's name appeared as superintending the work in the south of Ireland.

In 1899, Govan wrote, "As far as the south of Ireland is concerned, there has not been much work."

In March 1990, [1900] issue of Bright Words , Govan wrote " Pilgrim Irvine is in the south of Ireland. We have not had regular reports from him lately."

The last time William Irvine's name is given as superintending the work in the south is in the annual report for 1900, where Govan wrote as follows:

"The work in the south of Ireland has not been reported...much of the time of the Pilgrim in charge having been taken up with the building of movable wooden halls, nearly all of which are worked on independent lines and workers unconnected with and not under the direction of the Faith Mission."

In the August 1901 issue Govan writes:

"When in Ireland, I came into close contact with a movement that has been going on for a year or two. A number of young people are going out on quite independent lines...while there may be much that is good in the devotion and earnestness of those who thus leave all...a number of the features of this movement do not commend themselves to us...some have mistaken them for pilgrims, so we find it necessary to say that the Faith Mission is not responsible for this movement."

In the issue for September, 1901, he wrote "During the year several have dropped out of our list of workers. Pilgrim Irvine has been working on independent lines, chiefly in Ireland. Then quite recently Pilgrim Kelly has resigned, and also aligned himself with these independent workers."

Around the end of 1901, a small leaflet was issued titled "To Correct Misunderstandings." A portion of it reads as follows: "As we continue to receive word that certain itinerant workers (associated with Mr. Irvine and Mr. Cooney ) frequently pass under the title of "Pilgrims" or "Faith Workers," we wish it to be observed that the name "Pilgrim" was adopted for our evangelists from the formation of the Faith Mission in 1886, and that the workers of this new association differ very aims, principles, and methods from those of our Mission" (Eberstein 1964, TTT* ).

In the May 1902 issue of Bright Words , the statement appears: "We regret that it seems needful, owing to the confusing statements that have been made, to state plainly that we have no responsibility for the work carried on in Ireland, and elsewhere by Mr. Irvine and his fellow-workers. Having little organization or arrangements whereby to distinguish them, the agents of this anonymous work have been mistaken for our Faith Mission pilgrims, and misleading references have appeared in the public press."

From these references, you can see that William Irvine definitely did not leave the Faith Mission to take over or become a part of an existing ministry. There certainly was no movement of that kind existing over here before Irvine's break-away movement. As William Irvine spent some time in the Faith Mission before leaving it, there is no possibility that he founded the Cooneyite sect before 1886 as it was in October 1886, that John George Govan began the Faith Mission.

Irvine went to the south of Ireland in 1897 and his superintendency must be understood in the light of the conditions there then. His work, and that of the few workers in that area, was merely that of holding pioneer missions. He was not a "superintendent" in the sense that we know that term to mean today. In fact he was only in the Faith Mission for about three years before leaving to work on independent lines. He was separated from the main flow of Christian work in the north, and from the burgeoning Faith Mission work in Scotland. Because he worked in such isolation in an extremely Roman Catholic county not enjoying fellowship in any great measure with other members of the Faith Mission he was able to deviate from the normal practice, methods and teachings of the Faith Mission.

I certify the above information is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and ability, so far as the records of Faith Mission are concerned. I hope this information will be helpful to you, and if I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to write again.

Sincerely yours,

Rev. C. N. Peckham.

NOTE: Mr. Percival also provided the Author with a copy of the Faith Mission "Official List of Workers" for the years 1895 through 1902. He gave his permission for the Author to use the list with the following statement: "This list was compiled by Mr. John Eberstein, former president of Faith Mission, who through research has produced a list of the early workers in the Faith Mission; giving details of when they joined the Mission, the date they left, and giving notes as to what happened to them after that" (Eberstein, Official List, TTT ). This list shows William Irvine left in January 1901, with the notation: "founded Cooneyites in S. Ireland," and shows John Kelly left in September 1901 with the notation: "joined Cooneyites"


Address: 548 Gilmerton Road, Gilmerton, Edinburgh, Scotland EH17 7JD



BRIGHT WORDS , Monthly Magazine of Faith Mission (Bright Words is now called: First Magazine) Since 1889, the Faith Mission has published a monthly magazine titled Bright Words. It was renamed Life Indeed  and later renamed First! This publication provides news and reports concerning workers, their current locations, converts and missions, testimonies, as well as spiritual articles. Wm Irvine is mentioned many times in their early issues.

The following books may be obtained through the Faith Mission Headquarters or one of their Bookshops:
Faith Mission Bookshop, 5-7 Queen Street, Belfast, County Antrim, N. Ireland BT1 6EA

Spirit of Revival by I. R. Govan (Isabella Rosie Govan Stewart)
Publisher: Stanley L. Hunt Ltd., Rusheden, Northhamptonshire, GB  U.K. , 1978
John G. Govan's daughter wrote this biography of her father and the story of the early years of the Faith Mission.  

Heritage of Revival - a Century of Rural Evangelism by Colin N. Peckham
Faith Mission Publishing, 1986, Edinburgh , Scotland, U.K.   ISBN: 0-9508058-1-5
The early history and activities of the Faith Mission.
Reprinted on TTT

Faith Triumphant - A Review of the Work of The Faith Mission 1886-1936
By J. B. McLean, and others (no publishing date)

In the Train of His Triumph - Reminiscences of the Early Days of the Faith Mission
By J. G. Govan

Songs of Victory compiled by Andrew W. Bell: 
(Hymnbook used by Faith Mission)
Published by Life Indeed, Third Edition 1952;  Fourth Edition, 1998

Walter Duff, Sr.

Founder of the Irish Christian Workers Union, 1898
Tthe American Christian Workers Union

WHO WAS MR. DUFF? In 1900, John G. Govan, Founder of Faith Mission commented:

"Since we started in Ireland some seven or eight years ago, several agencies have followed suit on somewhat similar lines. A Mr. Duff has a mission in the north with a number of workers, and in the south there is the mission conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Todd, formerly workers with us" (Bright Words March 1900, TTT ).

In 1903, Govan wrote: "The organisation under the superintendence of Mr. Duff, also, in the north of Ireland, is to be recognised as quite distinct from our own. While we aim at loving fellowship with all who serve the 'one Lord' in the 'one Spirit,' it is due to our workers and subscribers that we should make these explanations" ( Bright Words May 1903, TTT ).

Walter Duff was the son of wealthy parents, James and Mary Duff, who owned linen and woolen mills in County Tyrone, Ireland. Walter was one of three sons who were the third generation of three sons expected to carry on the family business. The Duff family were faithful members of the church, and Walter began to follow the Lord in 1892. He attended University in England.

When Walter announced to his family that he felt called to the ministry, his father attempted to dissuade him, saying, "Walter we need you in this business. If you will just stay with us, the firm will pay to keep two missionaries in China for your lifetime. They will be able to accomplish twice as much as you could." But Walter refused, saying that he would not know what the missionaries were doing, that God had called him personally and he must go. Walter entered Bible School in Glasgow, Scotland and became a minister in 1891. In March 1901, he married Matilda Hamilton, an Irish woman. In his lifetime, Walter Duff was a pastor, evangelist and teacher. He preached in Ireland for 20 years, and another 33 years in America. He passed away in 1947 and his wife passed in 1957 (Nordberg 1996, 25*).

In 1898, seeking a way to more effectively reach people, Walter organized the Christian Workers Union for people in Ireland (often abbreviated as CWU), aka the Irish Christian Workers Union. He later organized the American Christian Workers Union. He instructed and trained young men and women to become evangelists, providing them with opportunity to preach throughout the world. Walter Duff's daughter Helen wrote:

"Father always had a great heart-concern for those around him who were still without Christ. He wanted to multiply himself to reach them. So, as young people received the Saviour at his various meetings, he began to train them for the ministry through a short-term Bible study program with work experience included. He would rent one of the large residences in an area, with fifteen or more bedrooms as his home. Then he would fill it with these young people and bring in some of the outstanding Bible teachers of his day. They would have classes each morning and afternoon, then go out with horses and buggies or on bicycles to hold evening meetings in the schoolhouses and lodge halls in surrounding communities.

"Later, my father organized his work into what was known as the Irish Christian Workers Union. This was in the late 1890s. Father also purchased tents in which to hold his evangelistic meetings and soon had eight of them--one for each county in Northern Ireland. The name of Walter Duff became a household word.

"Hundreds of young people (both men and women) were trained for Christian service by Father, and many went out as missionaries to all parts of the world. In fact, it is interesting to note that instead of having just two missionaries in China for his lifetime, Father trained young people who went as missionaries and ministers to every continent in our world!" (Baugh 1984, 3-4).

The CWU was not a church or sect, but an inter-denominational evangelical Christian mission with the goal of saving souls and to help build up the faith of Christians. Like the Faith Mission, CWU was an inter-denominational mission--not a church or sect. They did not take the place of a church affiliation. In fact, their members were required to be members of a local church. CWU members met together in halls they built or bought that were located predominantly in Protestant towns and cities of Northern Ireland. Their buildings were called CWU Halls. Each CWU was independent, and in some cases were unknown to one another, since they had no headquarters. The best known CWU was probably the Bangor Christian Workers Union, located in Co. Down, N. Ireland.

For the first couple decades in the 20th century, there were a number of isolated similar unions carrying various names in Ireland. In 1924, the Christian Workers Unions in Ireland and some other independent Irish missions merged into the Irish Alliance of Christian Workers' Unions. Rev. W. P. Nicholson is considered the founder of this organization which continues to this day. Christian Workers Unions were "formed to conserve the results and carry on the Work" after evangelists moved on to another area. This was especially helpful in small rural areas where there were no churches. A good many Mission Halls were run by such bodies as the Faith Mission and the Christian Workers' Union, as well as independent groups run by individuals who sought to maintain a Gospel witness in areas where there was none.

William Latimer wrote that Walter Duff was connected with "another association, founded about 1898, and known as the Irish Christian and Missionary Workers' Union...managed on the same principles [as Faith Mission], and aims at leaving behind a permanent organization wherever it has held a successful mission" (1902, 496).

Daughter Helen (Duff) Baugh wrote:

"Many of the young men who had trained with Father went off to America. Soon letters began arriving urging Father to come over. 'There is much opportunity here,' they would assure him. By this time there were four children in the Duff family: Helen, the first born, Evangeline, Walter, Jr., and Olive. Father had preached in his beloved Ireland for twenty years. All his family were in Ireland, and it would be no easy task to leave them, as well as to take a wife and four children to a strange land. After much prayer and discussion between them, Father and Mother came to the monumental decision that the family would move to America.

"In the custom of the day, plans were made for Father to come to America first; then when he was settled, we would join him. When the large signs began appearing everywhere advertising the 'unsinkable Titanic,' Father immediately booked passage for the family and he set sail for America on another ship. But life without Father was not easy and six months was a long time to wait to see him. So dear Mother, under the Lord's direction, I'm very sure, changed her bookings and arrived in this new world two weeks early--while the famous Titanic went to a watery grave. God in control? Yes, God had His hand on the Duffs, an unusual family with work to do for Him." (1984, 4)

The Irish Christian Workers Unions continued in Ireland without Mr. Duff, who moved to America in 1911. In 1912, his family joined him. In 1914, the family moved to Portland, Oregon, where he became pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church. Walter wanted his children, now numbering five, to be reared in a suburban area. He bought two acres in Gladstone, Oregon, a Portland suburb, adjoining the beautiful Chautauqua Park and built a home he named Duffmont (Baugh 1984). All five of their children were involved in Christian ministry.

In 1937, Walter Duff Sr. began publishing the Monthly Evangel, a magazine designed to publicize and support the growing number of evangelistic teams he sent out. He titled his organization "The American Christian Workers Union," after its Irish predecessor. The Christian Workers Magazine, February 1920, ran this notice:

"Scotch-Irish Christian Workers Union--Mr. Walter Duff, Bible teacher and evangelist who founded this union in 1898, desires the name and addresses of its former members to be mailed to him at Gladstone, Oregon, promising to send them its monthly paper. To accommodate him and them we are inserting this paragraph."

The oldest Duff daughter, Helen Mary Monzies Duff (1903-96) married Elwood Baugh on January 23, 1929. They had two children, Eva May and Gordon. In 1937, the old farm home of Helen (Duff) Baugh in Wonder, Oregon, became the headquarters for the American Christian Workers Union ( Nordberg 1996, 71*). Later she founded Stonecroft Ministries, Kansas City, Missouri. Her book, The Story Goes On, was published in 1984.

Daughter Alexandra Evangeline Duff (1904-77) married Archie McNeill on January 28, 1936, son of famous Scottish preacher John McNeill. They became one of the American CWU's many teams. They founded the Canon Beach Conference Center. They had two daughters, Helen Jean McNeill who married Charles Steynor from Bermuda, and Isabelle Heather who married Dale Goodenough. Heather assumed the Directorship of Canon Beach Conference Center from her parents, which is still operating.

Daughter Evangeline wrote her mother-in-law living in Edinburgh, Scotland:

"You asked about the Work which we are planning to do...Throughout the Northwest there is much need in rural communities and small villages of the preaching of the gospel. Even in Northern California, we have found many, many places where there is not a service of any kind where one might hear a gospel message. It is to these needy fields we plan to go" (Nordberg 1996, 65*).

Son, Walter Whitfield D. V. Duff, Jr. (1906-93) married Edith Mary Dunn on June 12, 1936. They had three children, Priscilla Ann, Mary Margaret and Walter David. In 1948 Walter Jr. founded and operated the Village Missions which supplied Christian leadership to villages and rural communities across America for 45 years.

Daughter Olive Colville Mildred Rosemund Duff (1908-2007) married Charles Francis Huddleston (1907-1998) on January 28, 1930, and they resided in Visalia, California with their three sons, Charles, Stanley and Bruce. 

Son Haldane James Duff (1913-92) married Ethel Marie Olson on January 12, 1967. He directed a conference ministry in the Park of the Pines, Seattle, Washington.

The Author believes the above is sufficient evidence to show that the father of Helen and Evangeline Duff was one and the same as Walter Duff who founded the Irish Christian Worker Union and also the same "Mr. Duff" in Northern Ireland that Govan wrote about.


Evangeline: A Story of Faith by Bette Nordberg, 1996. Biography of Evangeline (Duff) McNeill and the development of the Canon Beach Conference Center in Oregon

The Story Goes On by Helen (Duff) Baugh, 1984. Autobiography of Helen Baugh, founder of Stonecroft Ministries, Kansas City

One Woman, One Faith, One Vision by Steve and Annie Wamberg, 2009. Biography of Helen Duff Baugh, Stonecroft Ministries

Founder of the Irish Alliance of Christian Workers' Unions

William Patteson Nicholson (better known as W.P.), the son of John G. and Ellen (Campbell) Nicholson was born April 3,1876, in Cottown, Bangor, County Down, N. Ireland. His first wife was Ellison Marshall, with whom he had three children before her death. He then married Fanny Elizabeth Collett on June 21, 1928, in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. He was the father of Ellison C. (Nicholson) Grant, Jessie Marshall (Nicholson) Rider and William Charles Alexander Nicholson.

Rev. Nicholson was educated in Belfast and attended two sessions at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow and became a Presbyterian minister. In the 1920s, Rev. Nicholson was one of the most noted evangelist in his generation, well known for his "forthright brand of evangelism." Newspaper after newspaper wrote of his revival campaigns where 100s and 1000s attended as a wave of religious enthusiasm swept through Northern Ireland. He was nicknamed "the Tornado of the Pulpit." For 50 years he preached revival campaigns in many parts of the world. He died October 29, 1959, aged 83 in Co. Cork, Ireland.

Rev. W. P. Nicholson founded the Irish Alliance of Christian Workers' Unions, which organization exists to this day.

"The Alliance is strictly non-sectarian; it is wholly interdenominational. It is not opposed to, but is intended to be a complement to the existing work of the Churches. An important condition of membership to a CWU is that members must also be members of a recognized evangelical Church. The primary object of a Christian Workers' Union is to provide a common platform upon which all believers may unite in whole-hearted aggressive effort for Christ, irrespective of denominational distinctions or differences. Their motto was 'One in Christ'" (Heaney 2004, 109-10).

Reference: To God be the Glory: The Personal Memoirs of Rev. William P. Nicholson by Mavis Heaney, 1997.

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