A milestone in Church history

Today, 180 years ago to the day, the Catholic Apostolic Congregations in London solemnly appointed their Apostles—the birth of the apostolate of the modern era. But the further history developed a little differently than expected.

Although Apostles had been called in England before this time already and had carried out official ministerial acts, 14 July 1835 was still a milestone. This was later explained by Thomas Carlyle, the Apostle in whose tradition the apostolate was later continued in Germany. He compared the development with the threefold anointing of David: through the prophet Samuel, through the tribe of Judah, and finally through all of Israel (1 Samuel 16: 13; 2 Samuel 2: 4; 5: 3). Carlyle considered the first anointing equivalent with the prophetical call of Apostles, the second anointing corresponded to the separation, and the third would find a parallel when the Apostles were sent out.

Desire for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit

The history … Christians of different denominations perceived the upheavals following the French Revolution and those due to the industrial revolution as constituting a secularization. Advocated by the clergyman James Haldane Stewart, the wish for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit developed around the year 1820, and this desire found confirmation in reports of miraculous healings. Representatives of the Prophetic School met to explore the Scriptures’ promises concerning the end-time—in prayer circles or also at Albury, a conference hosted by the politician and banker Henry Drummond and the preacher Edward Irving.

Gradually, as these strong trends merged, the apostolic movement could be distinguished more and more clearly. Prophecies saw the lawyer John Bate Cardale as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, whose prophetic calling was acknowledged in September 1832 by Irving’s and additional congregations. On Christmas of the same year, Cardale carried out his first two ordinations as an Apostle.

Signs fulfilled

Already at the start of the year 1832, 14 July 1835 was designated by prophecy to be a special event. What the author of the prophecy had at first considered to be the date for the return of Christ was later interpreted to signify the founding of the apostolic movement, which gradually turned into an organized church. It was thought at the time that there should be seven churches in London as well as a group of twelve Apostles.

Open-air sermons in the Paddington district of London and similar activities in the exclusive Westminster district resulted in the establishment of the two missing congregations. However, in the afternoon of the long-awaited day, only eleven Apostles were called. The twelfth Apostle did not want to accept the calling. Following the biblical example of the election of the Apostle Matthias (Acts 1: 15–26), lots were cast to decide between two candidates.

The birth of a church ruled by Apostles

All signs had been fulfilled. On the evening of 14 July 1835 each of the Angels (Bishops) of the seven churches in London laid his hands on each of the twelve Apostles, meaning that from then on the Apostles were “separated”. This meant that they were released from their duties in the congregations, and equipped and blessed for their future tasks: to lead the Universal Church that was just emerging according to the convictions at the time.

Until they became active, the Apostles retreated for a period of study and preparation, assuming that afterwards they would be “sent forth” to all Christians. But it was not to come this far, at least not the way they had expected it. The appeal of the Apostles to the clergy throughout the world to submit to the authority of the new Apostles—laid down in the Testimony—died away almost unheard.

The split

Nevertheless, the British Apostles began with preparing the bride of Christ for His return. Starting in 1847 they began to seal Christians in their respective working areas who had been baptized with water. Apostle Carlyle, who was active in Northern Germany, was very successful. It was also he who advocated that the number twelve be re-established, after two of the Apostles let their activities rest. However, he could not assert himself in the apostolic college.

Following the death of Apostle Carlyle in 1855, the Catholic Apostolic teaching changed. It was decided that 70 „Archangels” take over the government of the church after the death of the Apostles. Nevertheless, Edward Oliver Taplin, the so-called Pillar of Prophets, called a close associate of Carlyle to succeed him as an Apostle in Northern Germany. Similar to the subsequent callings by the German prophet and Carlyle supporter Heinrich Geyer, the British Apostles refused to recognize these callings.

14 July 1835: its significance for the New Apostolic Church

At this point, the two branches which had already existed within the Catholic Apostolic movement finally separated. In the tradition of Apostle Carlyle—via an intermediate step called the Universal Christian Apostolic Mission—the Apostolic Congregation and, finally, the New Apostolic Church emerged.

That is why 14 July 1835 is also a significant date for the New Apostolic Church, as it says in an official statement of the Work Group History, “The New Apostolic Church understands itself as a continuation of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Although the two churches clearly differ in terms of their organization and their liturgy, they are bound by the certainty that the Apostles are essential for the preparation of the bride of the Lord, which is their common task.”

Further information can be found in a series of articles : "The Making of the New Apostolic Church".

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Andreas Rother, Manfred Henke
Apostle, Denominations