The 2×2 Church was started by William Irvine (View Photos) in Ireland around the turn of the 20th century (1897-1901). Irvine was born in Kilsyth, Scotland on January 7, 1863. When he was 30, he professed in a revival service held in Motherwell, Scotland in January, 1893, by Presbyterian evangelist John McNeill.
He held the position of General Manager of Baird & Cos.Bothwell Collieries in Lanarkshire, Scotland. From age 20 to 30 Irvine made about £300 pounds per year and had reached the top by very hard work, and had the best of prospects ahead. In November 1893, when he was 30 years old, he resigned.
From 1893 to 1895, he studied at the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. In June, 1895, he became a worker with the Faith Mission which was founded in 1886 to evangelize rural Scotland. It is an independent evangelistic movement, not a denomination. In 1897, Faith Mission sent Irvine to pioneer their work in S. Ireland.
While reading Matt. 10:8-10, William was struck with a thought. “WHAT IF Jesus intended for His instructions to the 12 Apostles in Matt. 10 to be followed by all preachers for all times?” They called this method going on Faith Lines.
In August, 1897, Irvine met John Long, a Methodist colporteur and they held a mission in Nenagh, County Tipperary, S. Ireland. Several converts later became workers, including the Carrolls. In October, 1897, Irvine held a mission in County Meath near Rathmolyon; 14 workers resulted, including the Gills. These two missions were independent of Faith Mission. In 1899, George Walker became associated with Irvine, along with Tom Turner, Alex Givan and John Long.
In Oct., 1899, Irvine and 7-8 of Irvine’s young male converts travelled to Scotland for the FIRST experimental group mission, putting into practice Jesus’ Matt. 10 instructions to the Apostles. (View photo of Bicycle Boys.) These men believed Irvine introduced religious methods which were ordained by God and believed that Faith Lines was a restoration of God’s Scriptural pattern for ministers, and that theirs was the only true New Testament ministry.
In January, 1900, John Long began preaching independently on Faith Lines. 1900 was the last year Irvine’s name was shown on the Faith Mission List of Workers. In 1900, three women entered the work and 15 men, including Irvine.
1900-1901: The FIRST convention was held on Willie Gill’s farm in Rathmolyon, Ireland, near Dublin. 70 attended for 3 weeks. Irvine was viewed as a prophet; one God raised up to restore God’s way. In 1901, Edward Cooney joined Irvine and the number of followers began to increase rapidly to 28 total Workers. The group was nicknamed Cooneyites, Go Preachers, Tramp Preachers.
In 1903, Convention was held at Portadown, Co. Armagh, N. Ireland. They started baptizing and rebaptizing and also withdrawing from other churches and forming home churches. The followers now consisted of both workers and saints. In September, 1903, the FIRST workers ventured outside the British Isles, pioneering the work around the world. The FIRST workers to go to the USA were William Irvine, George Walker and Irvine Weir.
In Sept/Oct, 1904, the FIRST large scale Convention at Crocknacrieve was held on John West’s farm near Enniskillen, N. Ireland, lasting four weeks. Conv. continued there until 1920.
1905: The FIRST Official Workers’ List contained 200+ workers’ names.
See variety of explanations about the origin of the church: