The Liberty Connection

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Schoeff, Mary Ann

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Revised April 4, 2012

Mary Ann Schoeff
Threshing Foor Ministries

This lady was the first in America who investigate the 2x2-church (due to her sister in law's marriage to a B&R professing man.) She distributed information about the 2x2 church under the name of Threshing Floor Ministries (TFM), in Spokane, Washington. It was through her mail outs that many were liberated.

My first encounter with "the Truth" was on a winter's night in 1972 in the wheat farming country of Washington State. My husband and I had been invited by his sister to attend a Wednesday Night Bible Study Meeting held in a dank and musty, old farmhouse. About fifteen to twenty people, most of whom seemed to be elderly women, sat on folding chairs and parlor furniture. No one spoke as we were quietly led to a sofa to be seated. The scene was like stepping back into time.

The plain, severe hairstyles, the unadorned dress, and the solemn coldness of the atmosphere were, frankly, eerie. After several minutes of heavy silence, two plodding, dirgelike hymns were sung, acapella, without variety or harmony, by all in attendance. A prayer was then said by an elder before yet another hymn. Then the people spoke briefly, one at a time, on the few verses they had been assigned to contemplate that week. Their voices trembled with fear and humility, some hardly audible. Everyone spoke exactly the same way with halting phrases strung between the monotonous singsong of the words. No one smiled. No one deviated in style or actions.

My sister-in-law spoke pointedly, admonishing "those who should not speak (namely my husband and I), should not to do so." (Because outsiders are not generally allowed to attend such meetings, let alone speak, she no doubt wanted to protect herself from criticism.) Once all who were expected to speak had done so, another lengthy hymn concluded the Bible Study. Only then did life seem to appear, reflected by a few smiles, the shaking of hands, and brief, quiet conversations. Within minutes all had left. The meeting was over.

My husband's sister had recently become involved with this religion and through her future husband eagerly "professed into it" within only a few weeks. She would shortly marry a lifelong "professing" man. As a result, her life and mine radically changed. She rejected the Christian church of her youth and the testimonies of her family and long time friends, becoming immersed in the mysterious religious movement which claimed no name, founder, or headquarters and had no written explanation of its beliefs.

She claimed to have found "the True Way," but she could not readily answer our many questions about it. More frightening still was her lack of concern over her inability to do so.

At this point, I resolved to find out all I could about her new religion.  My genuine concern for her spiritual well-being initiated a research project which reached a magnitude I never would have imagined in the beginning.

Where does one begin when one does not even know what one is looking for? My clues were few, and my first research efforts were quite futile. The church claimed to have no name, which proved initially to be a major roadblock in obtaining information about it. All I knew was the church claimed to be Christian, used the King James Version of the Bible, met only in homes and rented halls, had unordained ministers who went out "two and two" like the disciples, and believed that everyone "outside" that "Family of God" was going to hell.

I studied church history and reviewed every book on obscure religious bodies which I could locate, but this religion continued to remain a mystery. Finally, in desperation, I began to write newspapers around the world, asking them to print my queries containing a brief description of the religion. Bits of information slowly began to trickle in, and an identity began to be revealed.

This religion was not one of the "closed" Plymouth Brethren groups, as I had first speculated, nor was it descended from any ancient schisms or heresies. The origin of the church was at the turn of the century in the British Isles, and the founder, a man named William Irvine. As my studies progressed, I began to see the religion was not all it claimed to be.

Gathering research from scratch is a lengthy and challenging process. Over the years I established many contacts within and without the movement, gathering newspaper articles, letters, meeting notes, and pictures. I attended meetings and annual conventions, wrote to its ministers and interviewed them privately, sometimes in my own home. I also interviewed people who had left the religion , as well as friends and family members of "professing" people.

Ironically, my first significant personal encounter came as a result of some Mormon missionaries who came by my home. One of their bizarre statements prompted me to contact a cult ministries group for more clarification. I happened to mention my interest in "The Truth" to the lady to whom I had been referred. She immediately shared that she had been in that religion - for a week! Also, she had some close friends who were still "professing." She was very interested in what I knew and wanted to share it with her friends. Piece by piece a gigantic and extraordinarily
complex puzzle began coming together.

Because this religion does not publish any materials or put forth a doctrinal statement, the only way one can begin to understand its belief structure and lifestyle is to put bits and pieces together over time. Even the "professing" people themselves do not necessarily fully comprehend what they "believe." They are content to be unquestioning members of the "Family of God" and unquestioning. The ministers are the only ones who really concern themselves with preaching and sharing "the Gospel" with others. Yet they deliberately feed the "saints" only "a little bit here and a little bit there." They prefer to be unseen by the world and to remain a tantalizing and, thereby, subtly alluring, mystery to any who might stumble upon them. Few questions are asked and, when they are, the answers are often vague and do little to resolve the mystery that surrounds "the Truth." As a result, families, neighbors, and co-workers commonly remain puzzled, frustrated, and divided because of the strange, unknown religion that separates them from true friendship and fellowship.

In the late 1980’s, I absorbed Threshing Floor Ministries (TFM) from a fellow also involved in cult ministries.  TFM is not limited to 2x2s.  TFM has helped Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, et al.  TFM keeps active files and information on dozens of cults.  TFM has over 30 bankers boxes of 2x2 materials, collected over 35 years – meeting and convention notes, letters, lists, scrapbooks, poems, hymnals, bibles, photos, personal interviews, tapes, etc.

In 1982 we toured England, Scotland and Ireland for three weeks, meeting with locals familiar with the 2x2s; Patricia Roberts who wrote the story of Edward Cooney; William Irvine’s nieces in Kilsyth, Scotland; the current owner of Crocknacrieve Convention grounds in N. Ireland, etc.  In Belfast, we stayed with Fred Wood (94 years old), the last remaining Cooneyite elder and companion of Ed Cooney and also attended a Cooneyite meeting there.  In Enniskillen, N. Ireland, we visited the Impartial Reporter, and they provided us with free use their new copy machine which we used to copy all the old newspaper articles about the early days of the movement.  Later we compiled copies of these newspaper accounts into spiral bound booklets and made them available thru TFM.

We connected with Doug Parker through Fred and Ruth Miller.  Fred had been a worker at one time.  He and his wife were distributing Parker’s book in the USA.  Fred and Ruth took us to meet numerous ex-2x2s in Western Washington and Canada.  TFM helped distribute Parker’s book, as well.  TFM also provided information about the 2x2 church to numerous other cult ministries and researches including the Christian Research Institute, Dr. Ronald Enroth and J. Gordon Melton.

Threshing Floor Ministries is made up of a group of denominational and nondenominational Christians who have a burden for the cults and those who have come under false teachings and heresies. The group is composed of a mixture of people from diverse backgrounds, including some who once were in cultic movements. We share information with one another and anyone else who requests it on religious movements which have been deemed cultic or heretical by experts in the field. We also encourage the distribution of informative literature and offer to answer questions and help anyone seeking more information. People with specific needs are directed to the appropriate resource person within Threshing Floor, or to other ministries, depending on their location, requests, and personal interests.

We do what we do because we feel a calling from God to preach truth, rightly divide the Word, and defend the faith. Threshing Floor cares deeply for those who have been blinded by error. Our desire is to offer an opportunity for anyone with questions and concerns to be able to get straight answers. All correspondence and further personal communication, if desired, will be discreet and absolutely private. If you have received an unsolicited mailing from us, it is because a friend has requested information be sent to you.

We have access to extensive resource materials on many religious movements as well as persons who were once affiliated with the same. We will endeavor to respond quickly and to provide documentation to support all our positions. No religious body will be considered a cult or a heresy without documentation sufficient enough to remove all doubt from the minds of any objective reader.

Threshing Floor holds the position that a cultic movement is defined by its specific beliefs about Who Jesus is and what He has done for man. We ascribe to the absolute authority of the Word of God in this regard and apply the Biblical tests to all things which are questioned.

We are willing to accept additional documentation on the various cults, heresies, and questionable movements from any interested person in order to make our files more complete or to correct any possible erroneous information. Your prayers and suggestions are welcome.

My research began for my own enlightenment and my desire to help my sister-in-law. However, as I pursued my quest for answers, I realized that others had questions, too, both "within" and "without." Many families and friendships have been shattered by religion because of ignorance, misunderstanding, and mistrust. Hopefully, by sharing what I have found about this religion, these families and friends will be better able to relate. However, if truth prevails, perhaps, even greater spiritual benefits will be gained.

"For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known." (Matthew 10:26)

Threshing Floor Ministries
PO Box 9899
Spokane, WA USA 99209