“Faithful to God and Jesus Christ, our Sender, alone”

“Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss is an outstanding personage in our Church,” emphasised District Apostle Rüdiger Krause in response to a question about him. In his time, Preuss was the Apostle from Hamburg—a courageous anchor in a stormy sea. Today is the 140th anniversary of his death.

It was in 1827 that Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss was born in Matzdorf in Lower Lusatia. His grandfather was a royal peat master, a position of no small significance in those years, and it was in his home that Carl grew up and learned the carpenter’s trade—honest work for an industrious person. His teacher in the trade certified that he “conducted himself impeccably”. As was the norm for carpenters in their apprenticeship, the young journeyman travelled to Berlin and the surrounding area from 1846 to 1852. It was while he was in Berlin that he became acquainted with the Catholic Apostolic doctrine and heard about Apostles who sealed believers with the gift of the Holy Spirit. In 1850 he was sealed by Apostle Thomas Carlyle. By 14 June 1854—four years later—he was already serving as a Priest in the congregation of Berlin.

From Berlin to Hamburg

Not long after, however, the call to take on the care of the congregation in Hamburg drew him away from Berlin—from one cosmopolitan city to another. He arrived in Hamburg on 21 July 1855. The congregation there was in rough shape, as the authorities had suspended the congregation’s right of assembly and expelled all its ministers from the city. It was for this reason that Priest Preuss did not officially come to the city as a clergyman, but rather as a carpenter—and for several years, he served as the congregation’s only minister. Finally, toward the end of the year 1858, some long-awaited reinforcement arrived in Hamburg in the person of Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz, the later Apostle, who had been sent to Hamburg to lead the congregation. Written submissions addressed to the Hamburg Senate had apparently succeeded in relaxing the conditions that had been imposed on the congregation.

A fateful year: 1863

The year 1863 changed the world for the apostolic believers of Hamburg. Apostle Francis Woodhouse agreed to the excommunication of Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz and Heinrich Geyer—and two significant men in the Church were thus relieved of their ministries. This also entailed the separation of the Hamburg congregation from the Apostles of the Catholic Apostolic Church, because the Hamburg members remained true to their rector. Together with them, Schwartz, Preuss, and a handful of Deacons waited for what would come next.

And what came next was quite a surprise: on 12 April 1863, Priest Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss, a young man of 36 years, was called by divine prophecy to become an Apostle, and was acknowledged by the congregation as an Apostle of a new order.

A staunch and steadfast pioneer

District Apostle Rüdiger Krause, who today leads the Church in Northern Germany, offers the following impression: “A simple journeyman carpenter who accepted the word of God in deep faith—that is how I envision this pioneer of our Church. From modest circumstances he laid the foundations for our later Church.” There was the pressure of excommunication and the care of the little Hamburg congregation—and on top of all that, there was his actual rector, Bishop Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz, who immediately subordinated to the leadership of his new Apostle. District Apostle Krause goes on to say, “For me personally, it is especially important to stress that, in the humble circumstances of the Hamburg congregation, Apostle Preuss remained steadfast in the face of the larger and more powerful congregations of the Catholic Apostolic Church, and followed up his call to the Apostle ministry with action. He pursued his path undauntedly, and remained faithful to God and Jesus Christ, his Sender, alone. It was from these insignificant beginnings that the New Apostolic Church—which today numbers nine million members around the world—developed.”

Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss passed away on 25 July 1878 at the age of only 51.

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Peter Johanning
Apostle, People/Personalities