1863 - 2013: 150 Years New Apostolic Church
In 2013 the New Apostolic Church looks back on 150 years of its existence. To commemorate this anniversary, congregations around the world are planning a variety of events. Originating from a small Catholic Apostolic congregation in Hamburg (Germany) the New Apostolic Church today has more than ten million members worldwide. New Apostolic Christians assemble in over 60,000 congregations. The highlight of the anniversary year will be the Pentecost service, which Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber will hold on 19 May 2013 in Hamburg (Germany).
The roots of the New Apostolic Church date back to the 19th Century. Around the year 1830 individuals and groups in England and Scotland prayed for an “outpouring of the Holy Spirit”. These prayers expressed their hope for a renewal of Christian life within the various denominations that they felt had become formal and uninspiring. An “apostolic movement” developed which gradually turned into an organised church after twelve Apostles had been called by prophetically gifted persons between 1832 and 1835. The distinctive feature of what became known as the Catholic Apostolic Church was that it was headed by Apostles who by the laying on of hands dispensed the gift of the Holy Spirit to prepare the believers for the return of Christ, which they expected soon.
In 1863 the congregation in Hamburg separated from the Apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church. The reasons were fundamental differences of opinion concerning the role of the Apostle ministry in the preparation of believers for the return of Christ and on the possibility of completing the number of Apostles that had by then decreased from twelve to six. On 27 January 1863 Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz, the bishop in charge of the Hamburg congregation, was excommunicated from the Catholic Apostolic Church. This date is considered the birth of the New Apostolic Church.
In the early years the Hamburg congregations approached the public under various names. More congregations were founded and to avoid confusion with those “apostolic congregations” they had separated from they eventually called themselves “New Apostolic Congregations” in their official correspondence. At the turn from the 19th to the 20th century the Church was called “New Apostolic Congregation” and from about 1930 “New Apostolic Church”.