History of our Church

The New Apostolic Church has its roots in the nineteenth century. In around the year 1830 individuals and groups in England and Scotland began praying for an “outpouring of the Holy Spirit”. In the spirit of the “evangelical awakening” movement of the time, they understood this as a revival of Christian life within the various denominations, which had grown rigid in their formal structures.

An “apostolic” movement came into being, which later took on church structures after twelve Apostles were called between 1832 and 1835 by individuals who possessed the gift of prophecy. The distinguishing feature of the church, which now bore the name “Catholic Apostolic Church”, was that it was led by Apostles who dispensed the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers through the laying on of hands in order to prepare them for the return of Christ, which they expected imminently.

The Testimony of the Apostles

These Apostles understood their task as a mission to all Christians. The newly developing fellowship understood itself as the work of redemption ahead of the imminent judgements of the end time. It was with this message that, in 1837, they turned to the spiritual and secular leaders of the time in a document they called “The Testimony of the Apostles”. They expected that a significant portion of Christendom would accept their message at the time decided by God, and thus designed church structures and forms of divine service to accommodate this eventuality. 

Even when their invitation failed to produce the expected response, they continued to feel a responsibility to intercede on behalf of all Christians in prayer. Differences arose in response to the question of whether to fill the vacancies in the circle of the Apostles, whose number had diminished first to ten, and by 1863, to six. Rather than fill these vacancies, however, they decided to change their expectations of the future. From then on they began to hope in the imminent rapture of the congregation they had already gathered. They did not give up the expectation of a powerful “outpouring of the Spirit”, but postponed this hope to a point in time following the Lord’s return to take the congregation to Himself.

1863 - separation of the Hamburg congregation

There was resistance in response to this reversal of the original hope in a great work under Apostles, however. When attempts to fill the vacancies in the circle of the Apostles failed, a subsequent fundamental difference of interpretation concerning the role of the Apostle ministry in the preparation of the believers for the return of Christ led to the separation of the Hamburg congregation from the Apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church in 1863. The Catholic Apostolic Church’s excommunication of the leader of the Hamburg congregation, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz, on 27 January 1863 is considered the birth of the New Apostolic Church. 

Starting from the congregation of Hamburg, a new group of Apostles began its activity in the year 1863. By 1864 the Dutch branch of the “apostolic mission” to the Christian world had already been founded with a small congregation in Amsterdam. The Hamburg congregation emerged under various names depending on the occasion. To distinguish themselves from the first “apostolic congregations” the new congregations established over the ensuing period soon began referring to themselves as “new apostolic congregations” in official correspondence. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Church became known as the “New Apostolic Congregation” and, as of approximately 1930, as the “New Apostolic Church”.

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