In my mailbox this morning was a little printed invitation card that read as follows. A Series of Meetings BASED ON THE BIBLE are being held in the MARKET HOUSE, THE SQUARE, BALLYNAHINCH. Every Sunday 7pm – 8pm – Free & Non Denominational – Everyone Welcome – E. Drennan & A. Gault

This invitation bears many of the hallmarks of the group that do not ascribe any particular name to themselves but would be referred to by others as ‘Cooneyites’.

The venue for these proposed meetings – ‘MARKET HOUSE, THE SQUARE, BALLYNAHINCH’ fits well with their long established strategy when it comes to holding public meetings.

In a little booklet called ‘They Go About Two By Two’

William Paul wrote

‘They travel about in pairs, composed of either men or women. Shying away from large cities, they usually prefer small towns or rural areas in which to operate’ [page 6].

‘Sometimes this group is known to make use of a public hall, school house, tent, or other meeting places where outsiders are invited to attend their Bible studies. Such meetings are not easily identified as being conducted by “Two by Twos” because of a sign which simply reads “Gospel Meeting” that is displayed’ [page 8].

 [Ballynahinch meets many of these criteria very well]

For another identifying feature I would refer back to January 1997 when a series of meetings were held in the Lough Moss Leisure Centre in Carryduff and part of the little invitation card for those meetings read as follows

‘These meetings are undenominational and free’ 

There is great emphasis on meetings being ‘free’ and the following extracts from books written by former members of the group will help explain why

‘The workers do not take collections or tithes and disapprove of anyone who does…They accuse other Christians of being after money instead of souls. Their main complaint against other Christian Churches is the accusation of hireling ministers and the use of church buildings’

[‘The Church Without A Name’ by David Stone pages 1&45]

‘The workers attack churches because they have collections and ministers are paid, saying that this is “the root of all evil” {1 Timothy 6:10}’

[‘The Church With No Name’ by Lynn Cooper page 17]

Then you will note that two names are given at the foot of the Ballynahinch invitation – E. Drennan and A. Gault. At this stage I do not know the gender of these speakers but from experience the speakers at meetings very often are ladies. My wife Margaret attended one of the meetings held in January 1997 in Carryduff and in a letter to friends in the USA, who are ex-Cooneyites, she wrote

‘The two workers taking the meeting were mature ladies’

From my own personal experience, on another occasion, of attending a ‘Cooneyite’ meeting held in a large hall on the property of Builder’s suppliers situated not far from Carr Baptist Church the ‘two workers’ who ‘preached’were likewise ‘mature ladies’.

Former member, Lynn Cooper wrote on page 23 of

‘The Church With No Name’

‘For a group that claims to be following Matthew 10 it is perhaps difficult to understand that it accepts women into the ministry. In fact, there are a lot more women “preachers” or “workers” in this group than there are men…They ignore the verses which say that a woman must not teach or “usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” {1 Timothy 2:12}

If these meetings are, as I believe them to be, being conducted  by ‘Cooneyites’ then, as far as ‘fellowshipping’ is concerned, true Christians should certainly avoid them.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 24 January 2004