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Tales of the Black Stockings

All females born after 1950 have no idea of the embarrassment and humiliation placed upon their kind that were forced by the powerful leaders for about 53 years because they had to obey the rules of the founder William Irvine.

I grew up on a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin and we had a lot of woods, so every spring before the snow was gone we would go to the woods to tap the maple trees and cook around 300 gallons of maple my Mom had never learned to drive a car so after the garden was planted in May, she asked me to drive her to Evanston IL. about 230 miles away to visit her sister on the north side of Chicago. now this was in 1948 and my Mom was 50 years old, and professed in 1922 and she had been wearing black stockings for 28 years.

Before we left, Mom told me to load up the trunk with a lot of jars and cans of maple syrup, so while we are down there we will go into the suburbs and go door-to-door selling maple syrup to pay for our trip. Now my aunt Esther had never professed and we didn't get to see her very often, so when we arrived and went into the house my aunt said to my Mom, Oh Lucy you are still wearing those black stockings, you know every time I see the black crows flying in the backyard I am always reminded of you still walking around in those black stockings. My aunt Esther was a very jolly happy person and my Mom and I quickly put the embarrassing black crow story behind us.

We visited a few days and Mom told my aunt that we were going to spend about three days going door-to-door selling maple syrup, and my aunt said, drive north one mile from here it is a more wealthy suburb.

As I was driving along I looked over to Mom and I noticed that she was taking off her black stockings and I said "Mom, what are you doing that for?" Mom reached into her big black purse and pulled out a package. In it was a pair of light tan stockings, and she put them on. I became very frightened and I said "Mom, if the workers and friends find out about this we will get kicked out of the truth and we will both go to a lost eternity."
"I will tell you why I'm doing this," Mom said to me, "we each have our large canvas shopping bag to carry the syrup and you will be walking up one side of the street and I will be walking up on the other side, and how would I look, with a black hat on my head to cover up my bun, my dark blue dress and black stockings from my knees down to my big black shoes, and they see me coming up to their door? They will think it's the bag lady coming and they're not going to answer the door bell, and they might even call the police because this is a wealthy neighborhood. Now with these tan stockings on at least I look halfway presentable."

Well, we got through the day all right and I was driving back to my aunt's house. Mom started taking off the tan stockings in the car and she said "I don't dare let my sister see me in these tan stockings, so I have to put these black ones on again. Now don't drive so fast as we are almost there."

She was having trouble with the first stocking with hooks or snaps not working right and finally she got one black stocking on. By this time we were getting near to my aunt's house and Mom said "Stop right here and give me time to put the other black one on."
I said "Mom, you can stay in the car and change that one right out there in front of her house."
"No," Mom said. "She could be right out in the front yard and come over to the car and open the door to help me out of the car and there I am standing with one black stocking on and one tan stocking on and I would never hear the end of that from her."
So I stopped where we were and she put the other one on.

The next morning after breakfast we went out again to sell maple syrup. In the car, along the way, off came the black and on went the tan. We sold maple syrup all day and nobody called the police. Going back to my aunt's house, the procedure was reversed. The third day we went out again and the same thing was done again, and that day was the end of our business venture.

After several days, we were back in the car and on our way home again and Mom said to me "Let's keep this a secret, don't tell anybody, because if this gets back to the workers it will be like we sing in that hymn 'only remembered by what we have done'."

About two years later, a great change was sweeping over the country. Women and girls were telling other women and girls that you don't have to wear the black stockings anymore. Get rid of them and put on the tan. The next Sunday after meeting, a lady about the same age as mom came up to us and said to Mom, "Did you know we don't have to wear the black stockings anymore?"
Mom asked her, "Did the workers make an announcement that it's okay now?"
"No," she said, "it seems like the workers don't have anything to say about it, it's out of their hands, people are changing all over the country. Are you going to change into the tan, too?"
My Mom looked at me and then said to her "I've already got a pair, I've had them for two years and I've been praying for this to happen."

This lady replied "You know its going to seem so strange walking around town with tan stockings on and the people we know are all going to stare at us."

Mom said "Let them stare. I couldn't be happier."

I need to make a few comments before I continue the next part of the black stocking story. Previously, I wrote about the big change that was moving across the country and my Mom asked that lady after meeting if the workers had made an announcement that it's okay to wear the tan stockings. The lady replied "It seems like the workers don't have anything to say about it as it's out of their hands."

Several months had passed after the big change and my Mom told me that she heard a story about what happened that brought about the downfall of the black stocking curse. I was never content with the ending of the story because it seemed to let one hang in limbo and I wondered if the workers really blew it or did they look the other way, saying 'well, you win some and you lose some and let it go at that'. No, I think that's not really how a head worker's mind works.

You may wonder why I was not content over the years about why the story ended over in Ireland and it seemed to be left hanging in midair here in America. Because the story did not have a final statement to it, or a closure to that black cloth sickness that was inflicted on a part of humanity by those that had the power and rule over us and brought such turmoil into the home where I grew up, it was sad, very sad. I think there was a hymn we used to sing "suffering must proceed the glory". Yes, we read about the stoics in the Bible and they were on the same wavelength, their philosophy was, where there is no pain, there is no gain.

As I was preparing to write this chapter this past weekend, I made a phone call to a gentleman that used to be in the work a good number of years. As we were chatting about this and that I asked, when he was in the work, did he ever hear anything about the black stocking story, and what took place when those women workers came back to America wearing tan stockings. He told me the missing gap which I had pondered over for years and it is the rest of the story that I will write at the end of this chapter.

In 1956, Peter Hunter got up on the platform about 10 minutes before meeting at Marion, Wisconsin, convention. He was upset because people were not in their seats and totally quiet 15 minutes before meeting was to start. He then said "If you folks don't know what time it is, take notice, when you see the sister workers come in here to sit down you can let them be your guide. You folks sitting in here have no idea of all the work that I have to do for several months before convention, in writing and making arrangements for visiting workers to come to these conventions to help us. We also get letter asking for workers from here to go to other parts of the country. Well, now I say thank goodness for those women workers that were sent across the sea and came back here to be our guide."

I don't know who they were or who sent them, but three women workers from America were sent to Ireland right around 1950 as visiting workers to preach in the conventions there. As they were walking around on those grounds a few days before convention, they noticed that they were the only ones walking around with black stockings on. They also noticed that all the women including the women workers there were wearing tan stockings.

Soon the tan and black stocking workers got into a discussion about their stockings and each side said they were on the right side about the issue. Then the dispute became greater as they brought heaven and a lost eternity into the picture. The black stocking workers told the tan ones that any women found wearing tan stockings back in America would be put out of the truth and also could go to a lost eternity.

The argument was still going on into the evening and finally a tan stocking worker went to summon the old Irish head worker to come and get these black stocking workers straightened out. He came and listened to their argument and they wanted him to tell them who was right. The old head worker told them that this was not an easy problem to settle, as this was a very difficult issue here for him to decide upon. The tan stocking sister workers asked him, "How will this look and what will the crowd think when they see these American women workers standing on the platform preaching in their black stockings?"
The American sister workers said "What will the workers in America say if they should see us come back there with tan stockings on?"

The old Irish head worker said he did not have an answer for them right then but said he would go back to his cabin and pray to God about the women's black stocking problem, and that he would meet with them again the next morning after breakfast with an answer.

The next morning the old Irish head worker met with them again and he told the American women workers, "You may remove your black stockings and we will get some tan ones for you and you don't need to wear the black anymore."

My friend that was in the work for many years, and that I've talked to over the weekend on the phone, has filled in the missing gap for me. He told me that in 1966 he was a companion to Murray Keene and they were sitting in the home of Adolf Breitzman in Milwaukee visiting. Mr. Breitzman was a sharp man and knew a lot about what goes on in the workers system as he used to have a lot of workers come in and through his home. He told Murray Keene and my friend about how George Walker handled the black stocking issue back around 1950 when those sister workers came back from Ireland with their tan stockings on. He told about George Walker calling a workers meeting up in Canada and in that meeting George agreed with the other workers to make the change, but when he left he never implemented it or spread the word to other head workers throughout the country. For almost a year George Walker resisted the movement.

My feeling about the situation is this, the black stocking issue had become a monster in the workers' cult system and a much despised and hated monster. After that meeting up in Canada, George perhaps felt he was the last one trying to hang on to it because the workers themselves had brainwashed themselves into believing that the black stocking issue was a salvation thing. Now there George Walker was, the king of the workers' cult system and the great shepherd of the sheep and he was too stubborn to issue a statement, but just let it go as it will and the sheep had to tell one another.

Well, it is a new week and we have a new administration in our land, but for most of us life goes on just the same as it always did, we get up, walk the dog, make breakfast, get to work, etc.

Of all that we have heard the last several days about events that have changed peoples lives in government and how they have to make adjustments, we also see that take place in the lives of people on this list,too; people finding out the real truth about the workers' cult system and they make changes, too. The workers have been singing a hymn for years that says "change and decay in all around I see." They can see now that it is decaying and that it is coming apart. The workers' cult system is not standing on the foundation of Jesus and it is very evident that it was built on the foundation that William Irvine laid and is in the same league as the Mormon cult system that was started by Joseph Smith. I heard about an elder that spoke in the meeting last Sunday. He said that there are forces out there that are trying to destroy the truth and the workers are doing all they know how to try to keep it together. I think they know they are losing ground, or losing members.

J.M. wrote here on January 10th about her friend and she going to Ontario for meeting in 1969 and how the workers reacted about the clothes they were wearing. I did appreciate reading about her experience. She said "Unfortunately, I was stupid enough to remain a 2x2 for nearly another 15 years." I think we make a mistake by using the word stupid to describe our behavior. There is a difference between the word stupid and ignorant, and if we look those words up in the dictionary we will find that being ignorant describes our condition and being stupid describes the workers' condition. Ignorant means lacking knowledge about a particular subject or fact, uninformed and unaware. Stupid is lacking keenness of mind, mentally slow, dull, foolish and senseless.

Gloria wrote here that white wedding dresses were not allowed in Mexico City 25 years ago and maybe not even now. When my wife and I got married in 1954 in Wisconsin, she was not allowed to have a white wedding dress. They bought some blue green material and her Mom sewed the wedding dress. It had to be made very plain, so that she could wear it for other events. She never wore it again.

I read about white robes that will be handed out up in heaven. Could it be that the workers think that those robes up there are black, and if we are going to wear white up there, wouldn't it be good to get used to it here? Speaking of wedding dresses, I am reminded of what Frank Porter spoke at the special meeting here four years ago. As he finished up the last meeting on Sunday afternoon, he said "I'm going to tell you one more thing and that's about weddings. You people that are getting married—your weddings are getting just like the worldly people, the only thing lacking yet is the church building, watch it!" Wasn't that a strange way to end the special meeting on Sunday? When the next special meeting comes around, the professing friends hurry to get there so they can get another dose of the same, because the people love to have it so. My Mom used to tell us that back in the '20s and '30s workers used to preach against weddings at convention, as they expected that all young people should go into the work.

I need to start writing here soon about the Old Irish worker' prayer. I am sure that wasn't easy for him as that was a very extraordinary thing that he had to pray for. What I mean is that a male worker sure doesn't get the privilege to pray for a woman's black stockings every night. This was a once in a lifetime event and he promised that he would have an answer for them after breakfast the next morning.

Now I have heard workers speak in meetings saying that they felt down and that God did not hear their prayers. Richard Gasser was preaching at convention in 1995 and said "It seems sometimes we pray and we feel God doesn't even hear us, just like the Pharisee and the publican. Sometimes we keep praying for the same things over and over again and that is not vain repetition to do that, but God doesn't want a preprogrammed prayer like a kids doll."
So just several months after he was feeling God wasn't hearing his prayer, he was talking to my sister on the telephone and told her that she could not take part in meeting any more because of something that she had said and done. She asked him how long this sentence was going to run and he said he had no idea how long it would be.

While he was talking on the phone to her, she got a heart attack. She got to the hospital and was there over a week and on oxygen. While she was at the hospital, Richard was at the elder's house just three miles away. Not once did he come to the hospital to visit her. Today he is preaching in another state in the workers' truth cult system. I wonder if he still feels God doesn't hear his prayer.

As my sister started getting better, the doctor asked her what she was doing when she got the heart attack. She told him that she was on the phone talking to her minister and explained what the minister had told her. "Well," the doctor said to her. "I would advise you to stay away from that church and those ministers, as they are going to kill you, you find another church." She never went back. She has told me to write the whole story on the list here someday.

As I have been writing here, I wondered how Old Irish was going to pray about the black stocking issue, and I thought about an event that happened in my life.

About 15 years ago, two sister workers, not from this field, called me and asked if they could come for lunch on Saturday. I said, "Be my guest." They came, and halfway through our lunch they told me that they would like to see me get married again. I said "That is not so easily accomplished. Where and how would I start?" They told me I needed to pray to God about it and he would direct a woman into my pathway. In all my professing days, I never prayed for a non-salvation item like a beautiful women, a job, a house, a car, a dog, or even taxes. What I always thought was He rains on the just and the unjust; I being on the bottom rung of the ladder, who am I to ask for favors? Lunch ended and they took off leaving me with this heavy thing to pray about. Not wanting to rush into something like this so fast I took my time and thought it over a few weeks. Knowing that workers get all their directions from God, maybe I should give their advice a try and it might turn out all right because all marriages are made in heaven. But then, so is thunder and lightening. After I had prayed to God and told him exactly what I wanted and gave him all of the descriptions and my address, I closed with "Respectfully yours, Tom Schroeder."

I felt like I had run an advertisement in the singles column of the local newspaper, and the whole thing seemed so self-serving that I felt guilty about letting those sister workers talk me into it. Several years went by and it was 1987. I read about William Irvine and Edward Cooney in the Secret Sect Book that my sister loaned me and life started taking off in a different direction.

I told the head worker to move the meeting out of my home, as my job was too demanding. He said he wanted the meeting to stay in my home and he was sending over 4 ex-workers to help out. I was too scared to tell 4 ex-workers what I had found out, so I put up with them and meeting for three more years. During that time my sister and I had no one else to talk to, as there was no list or internet. If we would have quit meeting then all our professing relatives and friends would be gone. in the spring of 1991, I told a worker to move the meeting. They moved everyone to different places, as there were three other meetings in the area. I got sent to my brother's house for meeting. I thought now I can start to speak about grace and works and whatever to try to change things and wake people up. After everyone began to see that I was a rebel, I began to speak more bravely in meeting about how strange the workers' system is. I don't know why I did it, but one Sunday in meeting I decided to tell them my praying-for-a-wife story. Everybody stared at me like as if I had really lost it. I said "I know meeting should be about worship and praising God, but we come to meeting with all our guilt and speak about all our faults and failures the past week. We never tell what the faults and failures are, only that we've got a bunch of them. That's the way it is, we follow the workers' directions in everything and they say whether it is right or wrong." Meeting was soon over and everybody cleared out. My brother asked me to stay for dinner.

After dinner, my brother said they could not believe the sister workers told me what I spoke about in meeting that Sunday. I said "There are a lot of things you don't believe, you don't believe the Secret Sect book either, but this stuff is true."

I just happened to remember that I'd never canceled out that prayer request that those sister workers told me to make. Wouldn't that be something if my doorbell rings some evening and there stands a white-haired old woman with a braided pug on the top of her head and wearing old clothes that's out of style and no jewelry or makeup on and caring a big suitcase in one hand and a big cane in the other and says to me, "Well, it took a while, but here I am. What you see is what you get!"

I'm going to tell you that this story which follows is all fiction and just sort of entertaining, something to lighten us up and put a smile on our face. We don't know what old Irish prayed that night and we don't even know if he got an answer to his prayer. But we do have to give him credit for making the right decision the next morning after breakfast when he talked to those sister workers. What I say from here on is only fiction and humor.

As Old Irish walked back to his cabin, he felt that he had a big load on his shoulders. Coming into his cabin, he walked over to sit in his big overstuffed soft chair. On the side table someone had brought a pot full of hot tea and a big plate of scones which had a good helping of red jam and a dab of whipped cream. When over half of the scones were put away, he relaxed with the hot tea, leaned back in his chair, and soon he was fast asleep.

He soon heard a voice that he had never heard before and he didn't know if it was speaking to his mind or to his heart. The voice asked Old Irish "Why are you so tired and exhausted tonight?"

"Oh my," he answered, "is this ever good. I have never heard this voice before and I almost have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming. I have been very tired the last several weeks here as there is so much stuff to look after. Just three more days and this event starts. To top it off we have visiting sister workers from America. We are known worldwide, and those workers and ours got into a big argument today and I thought some were really acting out of place. You see, they are going to have to go onstage in the machine shed Thursday morning and our sister workers think those visiting sisters are not wearing the proper colored stockings. They wanted me to tell them who was right or who was wrong and I told them that I would have to pray about that to get the right answer. I hardly have time for that, it seems all I have time for here is work, eat, and sleep.

"Now, I know it's not good to get way behind on praying because I heard an old worker preaching from the platform that these are holy grounds and people believed everything he said. I have wasted a couple of days thinking, are these grounds holy all year or just the four days we have convention here? Then I did some more thinking—them Catholics don't have too much over on us as they have holy water, but we have holy ground.

"You ask me why I am so tired; I will give you a little history of what we do even before we get here. In May we finish the special meetings with the professing folk and then it takes about a week to get back to our field. Then it may take a week or more to find an opening, then we preach gospel meetings and the friends usually bring two or three outsiders with them. After about four weeks of this we quit them meetings to prepare to go to preps. But we always tell the outsiders that we will be back in about three months. I am sure the outsiders worry about if they should die before we get back to get them saved. We have learned not to let that bother us as we must follow in the footsteps of William Irvine, because he set up this convention system at the turn-of-the-century and convention is very important to us. We try to get here at least five weeks before the event to do carpenter work on the machine shed and the dorms, the kitchens, the dining area, and the toilets, just to get this place ready."

There's one thing I don't understand either and that is Jesus was a carpenter and he also preached the gospel, but not once do I read where he built machine sheds, or dorms, or kitchens and toilets; and I never read anything that says he had convention for four days. But in this system we do what we were taught by William Irvine and his followers. Now Old Irish, earlier you called this an event and now you call it convention, tell me more what convention is all about. At the turn-of-the-century William Irvine had convention lasting three weeks long. In the machine shed meeting, all females sat on one side and all males on the other side, and eating and sleeping areas were separate. I heard that when convention was over that a lot of husbands and wives had to be reintroduced to each other—that could be why they cut it down to four days. One more thing about convention that is so nice, you should see what we have on the workers' table. For breakfast, we have fried lamb liver, coddled eggs, raisin toast and tea. At noon, we have lamb chops with buttered carrots and peas and all the deserts we could ever eat. And for supper we have leg of lamb and Irish potatoes.

The rest of the members get grits, macaroni and cheese, sliced sausage and bread. Old Irish, I want to ask you something. If this Jesus you know came to your convention as a visiting worker, do you think he would feel comfortable sitting at your workers' table beside William Irvine, your founder, and all the rest of you workers eating leg of lamb and Irish potatoes? Or do you think he would be sitting way over there in the crowd with some poor mother eating macaroni and cheese, talking and laughing with them? All you workers would be whispering one to another asking if anyone know the name of that poor mother with the seven kids sitting over their that Jesus is enjoying so much.

"Well, my worries right now are getting an answer for those black stocking workers because I have to meet them right after breakfast in the morning."

Well, Old Irish I have noticed that you workers seem to know it all, but have you ever seen a black cotton field, have you ever seen a black rainbow? I'm leaving you now, good night.

all for now,
- Thomas V

The following books were written by people who escaped the 2x2 church!
Elizabeth was born and raised in a nameless and secretive worldwide cult that claims exclusive origin from the New Testament apostolic ministry and blatantly describes all other churches as 'false'. A fourth generation member, she professed faith at the age of sixteen and fully intended to remain there, even when she discovered that the system she believed in was based on a lie. A love story both human and divine, a journey from spiritual bondage to freedom in Christ; this confronting and deeply personal account gives an inside perspective into the mindset of cult members, and reveals the fear and trauma associated with being forced to investigate your own beliefs even if it could mean destroying the very foundations of everything you believe.

The author, Elizabeth Coleman, is one of our moderators at the TLC Forum!
A look inside a worldwide, supposedly nameless religion that meets in homes and rented venues, yet is almost unknown even to many friends and relatives of its members. This book collects accounts of the varied experiences from many former members. Although it has managed to elude public attention for most of its history, this group has been known by various names, both officially taken and nicknames, that include: Two by Twos, the Testimony of Jesus, Meetings in the home, Assemblies of Christians, Christian Conventions, The Truth, the Workers and Friends, the No-name church, the Way, Blackstockings, Die Namelosen, Kristna i Sverige, Non-denominational meetings, Gospel meetings, Les Anonymes, Cooneyites, etc. Revised and expanded second edition.
They meet in homes and in rented halls, presided over by itinerant preachers known as "Workers." This religious fellowship usually goes under the names listed above, although its members vigorously deny that the group bears any name. As to its origins, the group positions itself as being a direct continuation of "the New Testament Church." And even though they deny having any organizational structure, the activities of this nameless sect are world-wide in scope.

It is often very difficult for the outsider to gain any concrete knowledge of this group's doctrine, structure, or history. Reinventing the Truth examines these issues, focusing on the historical explanations the group has offered for its origins.
This secretive group has been called by various names over the years: The Two-by-Twos, White Mice, Black Stockings, Pilgrims, The Meeting, The Workers, The Truth, the Secret Sect, Die Namenlosen, Les Anonymes and many others. But they claim no name of their own. Outside of the group, little has been known of the ways and the diverse belief found among believers in this homespun religion. Here is a book that exposes the origins and the unwritten traditions of the Two-by-Twos. The purpose of this book is to summarize the teachings of this religious group in order to encourage people to draw nearer to and obey God. It is an attempt to bring to light what the workers have tried to hide from the public for over a century. These are doctrines and behaviors that have been observed and learned by an ex-member whose family has been part of the group for five generations, since the founding of the religion in the late 1890s.
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Any church which bases its origin on a LIE — or conceals its history in a cover-up — has no business calling itself the "TRUTH."