Married Worker Couples

Four married couples were accepted for the Work and their names appear on the 1905 Workers List, the earliest list found todate. They were:

  • 1902 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Elliott, no children.
  • 1903 Mr. and Mrs. William (Bill) Carroll, one daughter, May, born in 1901.
  • 1903 Mr. and Mrs. Wilson McClung, no children.
  • 1905 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Betty, three sons.

Two other married couples (Dicksons and Downies) entered the Work in 1905 but are not shown on the 1905 Workers List.

Over the years, at least 50 married couples were in the Work at various times, but they were the exception rather than the rule. For a time, there was no clear, consistent policy regarding married Workers being allowed to enter the Work. Most likely, Irvine reviewed them on a case-by-case basis. After Irvine left the Work in 1914, permission appeared to be left up to the Regional Overseers.

Tracing the married Workers on Workers Lists shows they preached together most of the time, but not always, and often not at first. Some started out preaching as a married pair. Others married after they were in the Work, such as Robert and Maude Graham, Erne and Finney Punke, George and Ella Johnson, Bob and Martha Smith, Joe and Grace Brown, and Dave and Emily Christie.

Without obtaining prior permission, Dave Christie married Sister Worker Emily Wilson in 1923. Their Overseer and cousin, Jack Carroll, allowed them to remain in the Work, provided they went to Hawaii, where no Workers had ever preached. Carroll’s blessing on the Christies’ marriage appeared to have a rippling effect for the three following years.
Read more about Christies on Telling the Truth website.

1962. Demise of Married Workers. Martin and Betty Medica were the last married Worker couple in the world to enter the Work (1962), and Martin was the last of the married couples to die. They labored in the Caribbean. Betty passed away in 2012 and Martin in 2019, aged 95.

By 1970, nearly all the early married Workers had retired. Worldwide, the practice of allowing married Workers to preach has been entirely phased out. Workers can no longer choose to exercise their right as expressed by Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:5, “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” If the current Worker shortage continues, perhaps this policy will be revisited.

The 2×2 policy regarding marriage of Workers shares similarities with that of FM. When a FM Pilgrim became engaged or married, s/he could not remain in the ministry. However, their superintendents were allowed to marry and maintain semi-permanent residences for several years, while overseeing several itinerant FM Pilgrims. Likewise, the married 2×2 Sect Worker couples, Carrolls, McClungs, Grahams and Micheletos were all 2×2 Regional Overseers.

Children of Married Workers. Some married Workers had children while they were in the Work (Christies, Beatties, Grahams), indicating that celibacy among married Workers was not strictly followed.

While Irvine was the international leader, he required married couples desiring to be Workers to leave their children behind. Reportedly, Bill and Maggie Carroll’s daughter, May, was cared for by Bill’s mother in Ireland, who died in March 1909. May immigrated with her parents to Australia in 1913. After the Beatties entered the Work in 1911, a relative raised their 18-month-old son. After Irvine’s exit in 1914, according to a Beattie family account, their three subsequent children stayed with them during some or most of the time they were preaching, as was the case for the Christies in Hawaii.

List of All Known Married Worker Pairs

Last NameFirst NamesMaiden NameChildren
BatstoneVerdun and AnnaBryant 
BeattieRalph and Amy Constance Irene “Rene”LesterFour children
BettyTom and Elizabeth “Lily”PendreighThree sons
BrownJoe and GracePrideaux 
ButlerArthur and Emma  
ByeLars and OlgaWold 
CarelseAndrew and Ann  
CarrollWilliam “Bill” and Margaret “Maggie”HastingsDaughter May
ChristieDavid “Dave” and EmilyWilsonSon and daughter
CunninghamBob and Isabella “Bella”FlemingDaughter Lucille
DalrympleRobert and RuthBrost 
deGrootAlbert J. and Emma M.Besk 
DennisonTom and ShirleyJesiek 
DicksonNathaneal “Nat” and AnnieMetcalfOne son
DoakHugh and DessieDick 
DownieFrank and ElsieIngramDaughter Renee
DunsheeWillard Amos and Ethel E.McVicker 
First married couple to enter the Work (1902)
Tom and EllenStinson 
GardEdward “Ed” and Caroline “Carrie”PalmerOne son
GrahamRobert and MaudePryorFive children
GuyBob and ElizabethJones, Sam Jones’ sister 
HarrisVernandez and Edith  
HartmannOtto and MannySchneider 
HeselwoodArther/Arthur and Elizabeth “Lily/Lizzie”RipleyFour children
JohnsonGeorge and EllaPowers 
KilpatrickTom and Martha  
KlevenJoseph “Joe” and MinniePropp 
MacLeodMurdo and DollieMacLeanSon George
MagowanAlfred and SarahDawson 
McClungWalter and Christina “Chrissie”McLennan 
Entered the Work in 1903
Wilson and Anne “Annie”Kerr 
McIlwrathWilliam “Willie” and Mildred “Millie” OliveSpillettSon Jimmie
Last married couple to enter the Work (1962) and last to die.
Martin and Catherine Elizabeth “Betty”  
MicheletosJohn and Anna “Annie”McBride 
PetersonGus and ?  
PittsJim and Mary  
PlaatjiesJames and Gertrude “Gertie”  
PunkeErnst and Finny  
QuickFrank and HildaVogt 
RichterCharles “Charlie” and BelleWeydt 
RobinsonLes and Evelyn  
ScottAlexander “Sandy” and EvaIdso 
ScottJoseph “Joe” and Mary Ann “Millie”  
SmithJohn Robert “Bob” or “João” and MarthaHogg 
StewardAndy and ?  
ThompsonThomas and AnnieSwift 
WalkerGeorge and Margaret “Maggie”Dane 
WilsonMatthew “Matt” and LeticiaArmstrong 
WinegardEllsworth and CarolineBedette