Bellevue, Washington, June 9, 1995
Thank you, Fred and Ruth. It’s really very kind, what you have said. Certainly I agree. The second time when we went to Britain to really do the research carefully, and Helen and I, would go to the British Museum Newspaper Library where they had all the records of the Impartial Reporter there in London, instead of having to go to Ireland, we could do that in London. At the same time, we could then go up to Oxford where Bryan Wilson (who wrote that section in our book) would assist us. And also we would go across and visit Jim Packer, who would read what we were doing, and those two men assisted us a lot. But Helen, being a Librarian, she was able to have the full run of things and knew in detail how to go about so much of it. And her orderly thinking was a vital contributing factor with the book.
So, we might just ask God to help us, and we could just bow in prayer and ask Him to assist us.
Our Lord, we do thank you that you are never far away from us and that we meet and move in your near presence. And we thank you for that presence. And be with me, I pray, as I speak. May the words of my lips, and the thoughts of all of our minds be acceptable to you. And we ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Well, thank you so much for inviting me to be here this evening. As some of you know, I’m on leave. For the last ten years, I’ve been a Chaplain in a hospital or in a number of hospitals. It’s in the Illawarra district, which is south of Sydney, and I’m a Chaplain to four hospitals. And I’m coming up sixty-five this year, which is our retiring age and I have some leave. Before reaching 65, I thought, well, we’ll use that leave. And we’ve had some friends in Alaska for years. Actually, they’re the daughters of the Hawkins, Olga Hawkins who had wrote to us over the years and Edgar Hawkins. We had met them many, many years ago and when Helen and I were coming home from Britain after doing that research, we stayed with them in Detroit. And so, we’re going to Alaska, and we’ll be having a holiday there. And I didn’t really give you much notice. I wrote only weeks ago, and mentioned this to Fred and Ruth and they very kindly were able to contact some of you. I said I’d be quite happy to speak to some if they wanted to meet. And here I am.
And so, I come from a background now of many years being a Chaplain. I suppose most of your hospitals would have Chaplains. And a Chaplain is involved in just ministry to all the sick in the hospital, as well as the staff. And so that has been my work for many years. And as a Chaplain, you just go patient to patient. You aren’t concerned so much for the religion. You’re concerned with just visiting people and listening to them and entering into their particular need at that time. And so that just gives you an idea of what I’ve been doing. I’ve been a minister in different churches and in my last parish I used to do a fair amount of chaplaincy in a big prison where I would just visit the prisoners in their cells and minister to them.
Ruth has suggested that I fill you in a little bit on my experience first before actually talking to you…My first recollections of becoming involved in the Sect was when I was a little boy of…no more than six or seven years of age, when a knock came to our door and there was a bearded man who had been a preacher in the Sect for many years. And his name was Jack Craig. And he had been a preacher in the country town where my mother grew up…I didn’t really decide to enter the ministry until after I had done some study, and it was then that I then decided to go into the ministry.
But, that was my first recollection, and this man, he said to my mother, he said, “Do you remember me?” And she said, “I could never forget you.” He’d left such an impression on her when she was just a teenager, and had held a mission, this chap, Jack Craig and another Worker called Jack Annand. And Jack Craig became one of the Workers in Europe, and so did Jack Annand. And that was our beginning in the Sect. I was a little boy at that time. We’d grown up in what you call the Episcopalian church–it’s the Anglican church in Australia. And that’s where I used to go as a little fellow to Sunday School. My sister used to play the piano in the Sunday School and was a teacher, and my parents were fairly actively involved in the Anglican church.
When these Workers came and they invited us to one of the nearby meetings, and so we started to get involved. Eventually we left the Anglican Church and became fully involved in the Sect in Australia. And eventually, my parents (we had a large home) and my father became the elder in that area. There would be meeting in our living room, and it wouldn’t be quite as large as this but almost, I would think. It was a large room, and we would have the meetings there.
And eventually, as a young man, I decided to enter the Work. And I think the seeds of that were sown at conventions. You just sort of felt the need to go out into the Work as a full time Worker. And I decided to go into the Work.
At that stage, I was a building contractor. I also had a business, a newspaper business. It was a “news agency,” they called it in Australia. When I offered for the Work and they accepted me, I then sold my business and gradually wound down the building contracting that I was involved in, and I arranged with my solicitor to sell off everything and to give the funds, as it had to be, to the Head Worker. That was the overseer of Australia, in New South Wales, rather. His name was John Hardie.
I was on the point of doing this, when I decided to have a holiday with my brother. He had a small farm, and he’d never entered the Sect. He and my elder brother wouldn’t get involved in the Sect. They had still continued to be Anglicans. Whereas, one other brother and my sister and, of course, my parents and myself, we were all in it. We often longed, you know, for the others to come into the Sect with us, and would preach to them, which possibly drove them away more and more.
Nevertheless, I was staying with my brother, and his minister was visiting him, and I told his minister that I was going into the ministry of this way: “The Way.” I explained to him what it was. That we had our meetings in homes and the preachers went out in twos. “Oh,” he said, “You’re the Cooneyites.” I had never even heard that name. I said, “No, we don’t have a name,” I said, “We go right back to Christ.” “Oh,” he said, “That’s what the Cooneyites tell all their people.”
I was somewhat shocked because I had always believed that everything outside this Sect was false. And that this was the Only Way; that we never had a founder; that we went back to the beginning. And this really disturbed me because here I’d sold my business and I must admit, looking back, I loved that business. It was a happy business–good staff and all the rest of it and to sacrifice it was a real sacrifice. And I was on the verge of going out into the Work.
When I came back from my brother’s, and the meetings, of course, were still being held in our family home, and when the Head Worker was visiting us with another Worker at the time – his name was Gordon McNabb – and when they were visiting us I said to the Head Worker, “I’ve been staying with my brother and I’m wondering was our Sect ever called the Cooneyites?”
He got so angry, and it was so evident that I had touched on something that was so sensitive. He said, “NEVER!” And he was so angry, and he cut me off so short. One thing led to another, but I’ve never forgotten that he was always a happy man, and he was a lovely man in every way until all of a sudden I saw another side to him. And he was a real Scot and a good orator and could hold the crowds at the annual conventions with a lot of wit and good humor. And here was something that disturbed him.
Well, one thing led to another, I decided there was something amiss here, and I said to my parents, “Look, before I enter the Work, I think we should have a holiday.” And I know they’d been so kind to me, and I said, “It’s on me. We’ll have this holiday. We’ll visit my father’s relatives in Ireland and in Britain. My father hadn’t met them since the first World War when he was wounded in France and on Gallipoli, and he’d got to know them and corresponded with them over the years.
So I said to John Hardie, “Look, before I really start in the Work. I’m going to have a holiday and I’m going to have a break with my parents and we’re going to Ireland.” He said, “You CANNOT go to Ireland. I don’t mind if your mother and father go, but you can’t go.” And I said, “Why?”
He said “I don’t care. Once you put your hand to the plow, you can never turn back. And you cannot go to Ireland.” I said, “What’s the reason? I know these relatives.” I used to be a young seaman in my teens, and on leave, I used to visit them in Scotland and in Ireland. And I said, “Well, I feel I need a break before I go straight out into the Work, and I’m going.” “Well,” he said, “If you go, I’ll have to review whether you can enter the Work.” I knew there was something wrong. He said, “And I think I’ll have to take the meetings out of the home.”
This was such a shock to my father, who was so devoted. My mother almost had a nervous breakdown. She used to weep her heart out, you know, when all of this pressure was on by these Workers. And he said, “If you don’t stop him from going to Ireland, we’ll have to take the meetings out of your home.” My father– I can still remember him walking to the door with John Hardie and Gordon McNabb–saying, “I don’t want to see you here again. I don’t want to see you in this house again.”
And all those friends that we had were never then allowed to speak to us. We would walk up the street–and there were many of them–I’d even built a home for one of them–and they would walk to the other side of the road. We’d try to talk to them, and you could never get even near them. Go to their doors, and they wouldn’t let you in their houses.
We had booked our passage and so on, (and we knew the names of people in Britain and in different places on the way) and as we called on them, we weren’t allowed to see them. They had written letters ahead.
Now, when I got to Britain, I had nothing to go on except the name “Cooneyites.” And I looked and looked in libraries. I’d searched in the Mitchell Library in Sydney for the name Cooney. I couldn’t find a thing about the Sect, the “Cooneyites.” When I got to Britain, I did the same. I went to the libraries and eventually in London, I came across a little booklet called “The Cooneyites or Go-Preachers.” It was only a very small little booklet.
And I was fortunate an uncle of mine in Glasgow (tape went blank)… was involved in a religion which meets in homes and the preachers go out in twos, and they have these regional conventions. I never used the name “Cooneyites.” And this minister said, “They’re the Cooneyites.” And this was in Britain where they knew them more. And I said, “I’d like to find out more about them.” And he said, “I know they started in Ireland. I’ll write to a friend of mine in Ireland and see if I can get some information.” And so, of course, I got the information to go to Enniskillen.
Now, I did this on my own because my parents were still in heart, I think, a part of the Sect, although they were disturbed. My sister was still going to the meetings and my brother and his wife and all of that family. They were all still going to the meetings. So I knew that it would be important for me to act quietly because it was hard enough to get information as it was.
When I went to Enniskillen, I started to search the newspapers. I thought, if there’s anything about the origin of this Sect, surely there’ll be something in this newspaper. It was called the Impartial Reporter. And it was a Farmers’ Journal that had a wide circulation in County Fermanagh. Enniskillen is a big country town in County Fermanagh…
When I got back to all the pages and pages, a young journalist was there and his name was Mervyn Dane. And he said to me, “Well look, Doug, you can sit up in that room, and just go back over all those volumes.” And there were volumes of the Impartial Reporter right back to the beginning. And so, I just sat there. It took me hours. But all of a sudden, I came across the name Edward Cooney, and William Irvine, and then the stories of the conventions. The old editor of that paper, his name was Mr. Trimble, and he was a marvelous man. He would go to the conventions, and he would write verbatim what was said in the conventions. He knew where they were going wrong and he wrote about that. He knew where they were going away from the truth of Christ. This really wasn’t the way to God.
But apart from that, the big shock was when all of a sudden I read names that were familiar to me in Australia. Like William Carroll, and George Walker who I’d heard of in this country. And I thought, this is the same movement—there was no doubt. And I can still remember the shock–I was overwhelmed. And I wept because I realized we had been conned. We had been taken in. That this movement didn’t go back to Christ. That this movement went back to the beginning of this century, when these conventions just took on like wildfire, and there were thousands of people going to them.
It might have had just a small beginning with a few missions here and there, but out of those missions, they brought them from all over Ireland and from Scotland and Britain and Crocknacrieve for many, many years. The property was called Crocknacrieve. It was the home of the Wests, John West and his wife, and their daughter, Ida still lived on a big property near Crocknacrieve.
All these conventions were reported for years. How they went out to Australia. How they went to America. How you had records of even red Indians coming back from America and being at Crocknacrieve, and things like that. They brought them all back there in those early years–Workers that were recruited in this country. And it became the real Mecca of the movement.
Now, while I was there, having visited with my cousins in Ireland, I met a lot of these people who were put out of the Sect. And I heard then of the division. And I met the Wests then and different people, quite a few. I then met Fred Wood and his wife and their children in Belfast and he was a devoted companion of Edward Cooney. He was excommunicated. I refer to his story in the book–how they were nearly frozen to death in London. How they would of, I think, you know rather have seen them die.
It’s an awful thing. It’s something like our Lord you know saying to the Jews when they were stressing that they were the children of Israel and that they were the heirs of Abraham, and he said, “Your father is not God. He is of the devil because I know you’re planning to kill me.” And he said, “The devil was a murderer from the beginning and a liar.” And here were religious people who could hate everything outside the Sect. And if you were in the Sect, and you asked any questions, you were hated. And there was not the Spirit of Christ in that.
I’ve never forgotten how Fred Wood just wept in front of me. How he recalled the night that Eddie Cooney and he–Of course, they, in those days, were real tramp preachers. They had nothing apart from the clothes they wore. They had a reputation for smelling, because they only had one suit of clothes. And they had no money. They lived just from day to day. And if there wasn’t a home for them to stay in, they had nowhere to live. And they would have been frozen. And eventually that night, one of them let them live in the woodshed. It had no lining–nothing. And he said, “We had to rub each other through the night to keep alive.” They would have killed them–virtually, murdered them. Because they dared to question the way the Sect was going.
Transcript Part 2
And so I heard about all of that division there. And the people who wouldn’t bow to this in the Sect, and who befriended Edward Cooney. Those that supported him, they were ostracized from the movement.
I then went on to Scotland, and I visited Kilsyth. And at that time, William Irvine’s relatives were still living. And so I was able to visit his cousin, Peter Comrie, and another one of his cousins, who furnished me with some of the letters of William Irvine and also, William Irvine’s son, who had become a minister. I have a photograph of his son, Archie Irvine–he was a Methodist minister – married man, with two daughters, and they lived in New Zealand–that’s where they lived. And he went out there many, many years. He never seems to have kept in contact with his father, because one of the letters that I have of Archie Irvine’s is to his cousin in Enniskillen, and he’d heard of the death of his father in Jerusalem, and he mentions that in his letter.
Now, having gathered all this information, I then came home to Australia. But I came home through the United States. And I visited Irvine Weir in Boston, and he was one of the original preachers. He knew Joe Kerr. I refer to that in the book. Then having come on from Boston, I stayed in New York with Mae and Earl Hammond. Mae Hammond’s brother was Peter McIver, who’d gone out into the work and suffered dreadfully–nearly starved to death in Italy as one of the Workers because he fell into disfavor with George Walker and Jack Carroll–I think they were at that stage–the overseeing Workers…
And Earl Hammond was a court reporter. He could type as quick as you could talk on a shorthand machine. And he had gathered all the Workers together when they had nearly killed Mae’s brother, Peter, by starving him to death and stopping people from supporting him in Italy. And he gave me a transcript of all of that, and I have that amongst my many other papers.
And I came on from there to Detroit and met the Hawkins, Edgar and Olga Hawkins. As you know, Olga had these letters that she wrote to the Selective Service Bureau and I have referred to them in the book where George Walker gave the story of the origin of it, and how the movement came here in 1903; and how the first conventions were held in New York and in different places.
And then I came on down here to Los Angeles, where I visited Kay and Ted Arvig. They supported so much of the investigation. I stayed with her three days and went down to San Diego. On my way home, I called in at Portland and met one of the original Workers then, a dear old man, Willie Clelland, and I refer to him in the book. He was present right from the beginning. He was shocked–absolutely shocked–that the Sect had given to its worldwide membership a feeling that it went back to Christ. He could never get over that. I sat with him in Portland in the YMCA building, and when he knocked off work this night, I picked him up. I hired a car and I picked him up from his work where he was a watchman at a gate of this factory. I took him and tape-recorded our conversation.
When I told him my story, he just couldn’t believe it. He’d been frozen out of the work when he broke both of his legs and became a cripple. He was involved in a car accident and they just deserted him. He nearly died and he became a cripple. He said, “I’ve never heard from them. I spent all those years in the work. But for them to have given you the idea that it went right back to Christ, that’s an absolute lie. It went back to Bill Irvine.” And he grew up in Kilsyth. He knew John Hardie personally, and he knew William Irvine personally, and he was one of the original Workers.
Then I came on to Seattle and Ralph Derkland and different ones. And I met – we went up to White Rock in Canada and met quite a few different ones. And then I came home to Australia. And met Ron Campbell in Australia. I’d never met Ron Campbell until then. I went down to South Australia and met him and another Worker who had been put out of the work. His name was Arthur McCoy.
Ron Campbell had been put out of the work because he had stood up against the Head Worker in South Australia, who wanted to have sex with his sister. And when Ron Campbell stood up to the Head Worker for wanting to have sex with his sister, he was told by the Head Worker, “Well, you know that when you go back to the United States, things will be different.“ And he had a dreadful experience. He came back here and the doors were closed against him and friends were poisoned against him. So eventually, he had to leave the work.
All these different people I knew over the years who were excommunicated. That first man who had helped my mother as a Worker in those early years, Jack Annand, he was put out of the work and suffered a nervous breakdown. Arthur McCoy was the same. He nearly starved to death, and then discovered that all the money that he’d given to the Sect to the Overseer was in a bank account that the Overseer was using, but when he was starving, they never sent him anything. When he was in Armadale Hospital where he nearly died, the doctor said to the sister, and he heard him say, “This man is dying because he is starving to death.” And his clothes had almost fallen off him.
So I met these people and they had long left the Sect. And then I met the people who had corresponded for years with William Irvine. And I have at home lots of actual letters that William Irvine wrote from Jerusalem to people all over Australia because he visited Australia. Edward Cooney had preached at the conventions, and John Hardie had introduced him. John Hardie knew that they were called the “Cooneyites.”
By this time, I was pretty angry. I was angry. I was sad too. I grieved because I had been absolutely misled. And my family was misled. And so my brother-in-law and my sister were still very much attached to the movement, but my brother-in-law–no he could never swallow this belief that they went back to Christ, and that they were the only true church because, when he’d ask questions, he couldn’t find anything about them more than just going back a generation.
I said to my brother-in-law, “Would you mind coming with me to the convention? I want to go to the convention and I want to confront John Hardie and these Workers.” And my brother-in-law said, “Yes, I’ll come with you, Doug.” And I said, “I think we’ll take a newspaper reporter with us.” And I took a newspaper reporter with me.
The three of us arrived at the convention and they were all in the big convention shed with tents and everything all outside. John Hardie was on the platform. We arrived at the door and a message went straight through to the platform. I saw someone walk up onto the platform and they looked across. I sat down with the reporter and my brother-in-law, and we just sat there until they finished that meeting. Then as John Hardie came out, he wasn’t going to come over and talk and I walked over to him.
I said, “I’d like to speak with you for a few minutes Mr. Hardie.”
He said, “I don’t want to speak to you!”
I said, “Well I would like to speak to you, Mr. Hardie. I have ten questions here, and there are also things I would like to state in the presence of these people. I want you to listen to me.”
He was so angry!
I said, “You have misled me and my family that this movement went right back to Christ. And that it had no founder other than Christ. You have also told me that this was never called the “Cooneyites.
I want you to tell me, do you recognize this photograph?” And I had that photograph that is in the book of William Irvine and George Walker and the Carrolls and the different ones–the original ones. I didn’t know the names of one person I think. And I said, “Do you recognize this photograph?”
And he said, “Yes.”
I said, “Is that you alongside of William Irvine?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “Thank you.”
And then I read one out after the other of these things – I couldn’t get to the end.
When he said, “Lies! They’re all lies!”
And I refer to that in the book. But he knew then that it didn’t go back to the beginning, but they would never admit that to their people.
It was after that, that I decided I’d put all the information together and do that expose’ called A Spiritual Fraud Exposed. Some of you may have seen a copy of it. When that was all completed, and you know I was just a young man, and I didn’t have the expertise of Helen. I just had to do it largely myself, with copies from the newspapers and statements, and quite a few things that Alfred Magowan had said to me. And I just put it all together to try and defend myself largely at the beginning because, immediately all these wretched rumors went out, “Oh, he never entered the work because he wasn’t prepared to make the sacrifice,” and all these sorts of things. They vilified me immediately. Before I had even started to ask questions about it, I was vilified. And, of course, that’s the way they do these sorts of things.
And so, that went out, and that virtually was the end of the chapter. I had lots and lots of letters come back from people, especially in the United States. There were thousands of those went out in the beginning, all over Australia. We did a mass posting. Olga Hawkins helped me a lot, Kay Arvig and different ones, and we had carefully planned it.
I believe we were against the forces of evil. I didn’t see anything wrong with that. Our Lord knew He was against the forces of evil. And He was doing battle with the devil. He had to make precautions for His last supper. He couldn’t make that public, even amongst His own disciples. He had to select a room and have it as a secret place with two of His disciples, picturing a man with a pitcher on their shoulder and to follow them. He knew He had to be careful because there were forces that would destroy Him.
And I knew that if this was to ever get out, we’d have to do it quickly and at least sow some seeds of the truth. I couldn’t keep that information to myself–it was truth. There wasn’t a lie on the part of any of those people. They were emotionally saddened when I told them what had happened. How the Sect had gone. And they didn’t know what had happened across the world. A lot of them didn’t know that they had gone into this complete disguise and misleading people, and having this enormous power over their followers.
So I had to get it out. We had hundreds of names in this country, and in Australia. And we decided that it’d be a block posting in Australia and United States all in the same week. So hundreds of those went out. And that was how that expose’ got out.
Now after that, I was finished with it. I thought it’s no good dwelling on this. I’ve got to go on enjoying my Christian faith and try to understand it more. That would have been 1954-55.
The man who’d helped me was an Irishman who knew the Sect in Ireland and his name was Hammond. He was a wonderful man. He suggested to me that I go to one of our colleges and that I learned a little bit about it. He had read my pamphlet and he knew the Sect in Ireland and in Australia. And I said, “Look, I want to learn more about Christianity. I still feel that I want to serve Christ.” And he said, “Well, you can go to a college–a Bible college.” So I went to a Bible college, but only with a view of learning more about the Bible.
And I’ll never forget one night in Bible college, I was studying John, Chapter 1. And I had the most exciting experience in all my life! And that is true. I discovered who Christ was! And I was just so excited! I discovered that He was God in human flesh, who was with His Father before time began! Who was the same as His Father! And who could speak about being with God, and being the same as God, through whom everything was made. I discovered, I think, a real sense of there being more than one. You know, that there being a Father, and that His dear Son at a point in history, had become flesh through a woman. But Who was God!
I got so excited. I went out and told some of the fellows in that college and they’d known it for years! But I’d never known it! I never had a clue. I never even really knew the Bible! I even bought myself a children’s Bible book, comic type of book, to get a grasp of the scriptures because (and here’s me) I was going to go out as a Worker! The blind leading the blind it would have been well and true. That’s what I felt at that time when I discovered, in a beautiful way, the true person of Jesus Christ.
I don’t think they ever really knew that. Somehow, for years and years in this Sect, their whole perceptions had been clouded with “The Way,” and the church, and it had become focused on this, and whether they ever knew that, I think they lost it and never mentioned it. I don’t think they ever knew it. Not until later on.
And so, of course, I decided then, after a couple years in Bible college, that I would become a minister in the Anglican church. And that’s what I did and have done ever since those late fifties when I entered the Anglican ministry, and went out in different little country towns. And Helen and I were married, and we worked in country areas. Everywhere we worked, there was the Sect. There were the house churches. There were the conventions. We would meet the people. You knew them, but they would shun us…They knew about Doug Parker.
I lost touch with them altogether, until some years later. Different letters would come to me, from Fred and Ruth (Miller) and different ones, and people would say, “Look, you should put that all together. You should make that into a proper book.”
And once when Helen and I were in Sydney, we met Jim Packer and I told him about this. He said, “Doug, you must write that book. A lot of people will need that history. You must write it. I’ll help you.”
And I said, “Look, if we came to Britain, would you help us? We’ll get the records better.”
“Yes,” he said, “I’ll help you.”
Then I got some leave from my parish and with our children, we went to Britain and we rented a house in London, and we worked very hard, I must say. We had to document this carefully because we knew that this had to be something that was to assist people and benefit people and release them from the sort of bondage that I was in myself. It was only the truth that could release me. I found that because I was devoted in the Sect, I was as bigoted as anyone in the Sect. I used to look down on everyone outside the Sect, and do all I could to get people into the Sect. I was like that.
And so we had to document it very, very carefully, and that’s where Helen was such a tower of strength. We would interview people and take verbatim down and record their statements and went to a lot of trouble. We wrote the book eventually with the help of Jim Packer and Brian Wilson. He would correspond with me, even when we came home, we hadn’t finished it, but he would correspond. I would send him a copy, and he’d write back and he’d say, “Well, your chapters are too long,” or “that chapter’s a bit too short,” and he directed it. And eventually, we got it into shape.
Those present at the meeting were:
Doug & Helen Parker and son, Dave
Fred & Ruth Miller
Bob & Joan Daniel
Brian & Connie Jacobsen
Fred & Corrine Kamp
Larry & Bonnie Lindemann and a brother
This talk took place in the home of Fred and Corrine Kamp and was facilitated by Fred and Ruth Miller.
Transcribed by Cherie Kropp
The Secret Sect book by Doug and Helen Parker (ISBN 0-9593398-0-9) is out of print.
Read A Spiritual Fraud Exposed on Tellingthetruth.info website