A Peek into a Faith Mission Convention
There are many similarities between the 2×2 Conventions held today and the annual Faith Mission conventions. An American man traveled to Britain, Scotland, and Ireland and attended a Faith Mission Convention. The following is an account of his visit to the Faith Mission Convention in Bangor, Ireland in the Spring of 1994 (Easter):
“Bangor is located on a little peninsula to the west of Belfast. I had a taxi drop me off at the large boarding house where some of the convention-goers were staying. Luckily for me, I arrived late Friday afternoon, just in time for evening tea (dinner). I walked into the dining room where I found ten or twelve long tables, where people sat talking and eating much like you would see at a Two-by-Two convention. I received a very warm reception from all and found the atmosphere to be very pleasant.
“This was the 77th annual convention held at Bangor during Easter. It was scheduled to begin with an evening meeting on Friday at 7:30 and then continue through Tuesday evening with the last meeting at 7:00. There were three meetings scheduled for each day, with each meeting lasting from an hour and a half to two hours. Sound familiar? The meetings were held in several different locations in Bangor. Two different church buildings and one school were used on a rotating basis. Sleeping accommodations were the boarding house I was in, and the local high school gym was used to house several hundred young people.
“That Friday evening after dinner, I was asked if I cared to join the others for the evening meeting, which I did. At the doorway, I was greeted by a Faith Mission worker who handed me a small hymnbook entitled, ‘Selected Hymns From Songs of Victory.’ The hymnbook contained 185 hymns, without music, many of which I recognized from ‘Hymns Old & New.’ The meetings were opened with a couple of hymns, followed by prayers and testimonies of the workers or other invited speakers. I would estimate the attendance at the meetings to be between 300 to 500 people.
“Overall, there were many more similarities than differences between the Faith Mission Convention and the Two-by-Two version. During meals between meetings, one could overhear people discussing how wonderful a particular worker’s message was or how they were anxiously awaiting to hear what the next worker was going to share. In listening to both the workers and those attending, I found the terminology to be identical in every respect to that of the Two by Twos.
“Fortunately, while I was there, I had the opportunity to meet a lovely sister worker, Hester Dougan. She was born and raised in Northern Ireland but labors now in Canada. We had some discussions in which she explained the Faith Mission and their beliefs and openly discussed the connection between the Faith Mission and the Two-by-Twos…She explained that while attending the Faith Mission Bible College, they had a course on cults in which the Cooneyites/Two-by-Twos and their origin were covered. Read Cooneyite Cult Handout
“It is my impression that the Faith Mission neither flaunts nor conceals their unwitting part in the formation of the Cooneyites/Two-by-Twos. Hester was very open and straight-forward in answering my questions about the early days of both the Faith Mission and William Irvine. Incidentally, everything she described regarding the early days concurred with what I had read in the old newspapers and various other written accounts. It was so refreshing to hear a worker answer questions such as these without a bunch of double talk and side-stepping. The Faith Mission is a non-denominational evangelical society with workers in nearly every major country, except the United States.
“As I was walking out after the Saturday evening meeting. I asked the worker at the door collecting hymnbooks if I could pay for mine and keep it. He paused for a moment and then said that it wasn’t possible because they weren’t for sale. I handed it over to him with disappointment, because I wanted to keep it for a memento. A few minutes later, as I was standing outside talking to some people, a man walked up to me and handed me a hymnbook, saying, “Here, we want you to have this. We heard that you wanted one.” I appreciated the generous gesture. That evening after meeting, Mrs. Keith Percival invited me over to the school for hot chocolate and refreshments with all the other young people…
“Although the entire affair was wonderful, the highlight of the convention for me was the Sunday afternoon meeting. It was a very moving experience as we heard a beautiful sermon about God calling two common men, Moses and John the Baptist to deliver His Message. After this, the meeting was ‘tested’ to see if any were willing to give up their earthly possessions and pursuits ‘to offer for the work’ and give the rest of their lives to Christ. Any who felt moved to do so were asked to rise to their feet and walk up to and stand in front of the platform while the last hymn was sung. After such a powerful sermon, I fully expected one or two to come forward. To my astonishment, NINE offered! There was hardly a dry eye in the place.
“I truly enjoyed the convention and would encourage anyone traveling to the British Isles to arrange his schedule to include one. If you happen to be one of many who have become aware of the origin of the Two-by-Twos, you will find it very refreshing as compared to the other conventions you have attended. If you are one of those who still has any doubts as to how the ‘Truth’ really started, then you may find some answers at the Faith Mission Convention when you see it for yourself.”
(Printed with permission of D. H., 1994)