In Hamburg there existed an apostolic congregation without an Apostle between January and March 1863 because Apostle Rudolf Rosochacky refused to act as an Apostle. But the members clung to their great expectation: God would send out another group of twelve Apostles and through them reveal the full power of the Apostle ministry.
Series drawing to a close
The events leading towards the New Apostolic Church culminated in 1863. From then on the Apostles of the New Apostolic Church continued building on the foundations laid by the Apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Under their leadership a number of changes were introduced – as had occurred under the Catholic Apostolic Apostles in the thirty years of their activity and which have been the subject of this series.
How then did the New Apostolic Church fare in the days to come? In the final parts of this series I want to sketch some further developments.
Article 14 gives some first impressions of what the first Apostles called and separated in Hamburg did. We continue to show how one of them, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz, united his fellow Apostles in a “circle of Apostles”.
Article 15, the final article next month, will show how the New Apostolic Church came to be called by this name after a number of other names had been in use. This information was gathered from various public archives in Germany and is supplemented with what is at present known about the names used in the Netherlands and some overseas countries.
Research into the history of our church is still progressing. The work group “History of the New Apostolic Church” welcomes whatever help we can get in locating further source material.
Their situation improved on 8 February 1863 when Priest Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss was called to the Apostleship. Urged on by another prophecy he was solemnly separated to be an Apostle on 18 March. The prophetic calls came through prophetically gifted members of the congregation while the Geyer, who bore the ministry of Prophet, was absent. Geyer found it hard to accept those prophetic calls and to follow the Apostle Preuss.
From Hamburg to Amsterdam
Preuss’s former rector, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz, acted differently, although he was aware that “a young man, who had served as a Priest under me, became my Apostle.” He accepted Preuss as his Apostle and served under him as a Bishop until he was sent to Amsterdam as an Apostle. On 27 May 1863 Schwarz was “called by the Lord, not only through Geyer’s mouth, but through the mouths of many prophesying people, to be an Apostle of the Lord”.
In 1891 Apostle Schwarz summed up his career in the Netherlands: “I was given Holland, Amsterdam, as my sphere of activity and left Hamburg all on my own, arrived in Amsterdam towards the end of September and have since then done blessed work here.” Apostle Schwarz – who spelt his name “Schwartz” in the Netherlands – laid the foundations for a congregation in Amsterdam in 1864. In 1869 a congregation in Enkhuizen was added, five more followed in the 1870s. In 1876 the congregations in the Netherlands had about 600 members.
Twelve-fold Apostleship and Christ’s coming
In 1862 Geyer had announced “a completely new group” of German Apostles. As our forbears saw it, twelve Apostles needed to become active. Only then the Apostles would receive their full authority. As a consequence four men were called to the Apostle ministry in Hamburg through the Prophet Geyer on 30 October 1864: Johann August Ludwig Boesecke (1821-1886), Johann Christoph Leonhard Hohl (1822-1887), Heinrich Ferdinand Hoppe (1830-ca. 1890), Peter Wilhelm Louis Stechmann (1837-1911).
The Apostles Hohl and Boesecke were able to found a few congregations in Germany whereas the work done by Stechmann and Hoppe in Hungary and North America left hardly any traces. For a short time Apostle Hoppe worked among emigrants in Chicago who had come from Hamburg (Germany); later his traces disappear in New York.
In the book Het boek voor onzen tijd (The book for our time), which was based on notes written down by Apostle Schwarz, the editor makes a few remarks about Apostles being called in Amsterdam. There, he writes, another three men were called as Apostles in 1873, those being “a Deacon of this congregation as Apostle for Italy, the Overseer (rector or bishop) of the Enkhuizen congregation as Apostle for France and the Overseer of the Bielefeld congregation as Apostle for Germany”. Together with another Apostle called for Hungary in Hamburg, he wrote, there were already ten Apostles in the “second candlestick” (the first being made up by the British Apostles) which gave reason to hope that the number of Twelve would soon be complete.
For the members gathered by Apostle Schwarz the completion of the number twelve was linked to the hope that Christ would soon appear. Some prophetic utterances made Apostle Schwarz hope that he would be alive at Christ’s appearance. These hopes, though founded on prophecies, were expressly classed as the Apostle’s personal hopes which might or might not be fulfilled. As a consequence, Apostle Schwarz gave instructions on how a successor to him as Apostle for the Netherlands was to be found.
Two Apostles in one “tribe”
Only one of the cited statements on further calls of Apostles can be linked to what we know about events at that time. The “Overseer of the Bielefeld congregation” was Apostle Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff, who was sealed through Apostle Schwarz in 1867 and sent to his home region Westphalia (in parts of Germany bordering on the Netherlands). He madehis home in the town of Bielefeld. After a prophetic call Apostle Schwarz entrusted him with the Apostle ministry in 1872. In reports about tht event we read that Apostle Schwarz laid hands on him and “separated” him for that ministry. In the Catholic Apostolic Church the “separation” of the Apostles was distinct from an ordination (cf. article 4 of this series). At the “separation” of the Apostles on 14 July 1835 there was no minister whose ministry ranked above that of Apostle. The Angels of the Seven Churches (in London) laid hands on the Apostles to indicate that they and all the other Angels submitted to the authority of the Apostles. In 1872 it was an Apostle, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwarz, who “separated” a new Apostle, and thus in the New Apostolic Church gradually the “separation” of an Apostle came to mean the ordination of an Apostle by another bearer of the Apostle ministry or the Chief Apostle. Another new element can be seen in the fact that Menkhoff continued to co-operate with Apostle Schwarz and the congregations he presided over were still considered to belong to the same “tribe” as those under Schwarz.
Apostle Menkhoff also took charge of the Hamburg district after Apostle Preuss’ death in 1878. Geyer had called a successor to Preuss, but Apostle Schwarz and the Apostles who held contact to him rejected the validity of that call. Apostle Schwarz held that the ministers in Hamburg had rushed the matter and acted as if there had been no Apostles who might have supervised the proceedings to find a new Apostle.
Apostle Schwarz founds the circle of Apostles
Apostle Schwarz wanted the Apostles to co-operate and sought to unite them in a “circle of Apostles”. In 1880 he wrote to Bishop Hübner in Coswig in Saxony, a man well known to him from the early days in Hamburg and Amsterdam: “Brother Hohl has joined us and Brother Boesecke is drawing closer to us, and our hope to be one may soon become reality.” When providing for his succession in 1891, Apostle Schwarz ruled that “not the call makes a man an Apostle, rather he must be sent out by other Apostles”. This did not prevent a split in the Netherlands after Apostle Schwarz’s death. In 1897 Martinus van Bemmel had been prophetically called into the Apostle ministry and he and his followers kept at a distance from the circle of Apostles. Another section of the church under the care of Apostle Kofman emphatically maintained their links to the Apostle unity.
After Apostle Schwarz had died on 6 December 1895 the Apostle Friedrich Krebs was acknowledged by most other Apostles as taking precedence among them. “Father Krebs” was sometimes called “Stammapostel” (Chief Apostle) while still alive. Under Hermann Niehaus, the successor he had already nominated and ordained, Krebs was in retrospect always referred to by that term.
After the separation from the Catholic Apostolic Church, the Apostles Preuss and Schwarz were called and acknowledged in Hamburg in 1863. More Apostles were called in quick succession because of the hope that a second group of twelve Apostles would speed up Christ’s return. Apostle Schwarz aimed at a united college of Apostles. After his death this task fell to Apostle Krebs who was in retrospect called the first Chief Apostle.