United Apostolic Church Europe


The history of our denomination starts with the spiritual revival movement in the beginning of the 19th century. Scholars have listed many reasons for this movement, sociological as well as religious. In small circles where theologians and laymen of various churches and social classes, belonged to activities developed out of zeal of faith and longing for salvation.

One of the most important circles was that of the London banker and member of parliament Henry Drummond. In 1826 he invited about 30 clergymen and laymen for a conference in Albury Park to clear various interpretations of prophecies concerning the apocalypse under prayer and study of the Bible. There were also contacts to faithful christians in Scotland where prophecy, speaking of tongues and healing occured. The centre of these revelations was the return of Jesus Christ.

When some members of the Albury-circle were excommunicated from their churches they gathered in new congregations which were called later "catholic-apostolic". Besides the enthusiast element the new congregations looked for order, too. Through foretelling and prophecy apostles were called and after further callings men were set to various ministries. Within two years prophets called 12 apostles equivalent to the 12 apostles of the new testament.

These new apostles travelled thoughout the christian countries in 1837 and 1838 to watch and learn about the situation of the churches. Afterwards they set up a liturgy for their congregations. Their first aim was not the foundation of new congregations but to fight for the unity of all denominations which form the one and only church. Because of excommunications from the established churches, congregations were founded in several countries. In 1836 the apostles wrote a manifest, called the Testimonium, to all church and state leaders of the
christian countries.

From 1855 onwards the first apostles died and it was decided that no further apostles should be called and ordained. This decision was controversial and the German prophet Geyer called a new apostle in 1863. This was not recognized by the leaders of the Catholic-Apostolic Church and led to the excommunication of Geyer and the congregation of Hamburg, Germany. Now, new churches developed in the Netherlands which were called the "Hersteld Apostolische Zendingskerk" and "Allgemeine christlich-apostolische Mission" in Germany, from whom the New Apostolic Church evolved since 1907. The latter formed a central ruling ministry in form of the "Chief Apostle". Parallel to the progress of the new apostolic denomination there occured splittings throughout
the world on several occasions.

The reasons for these splittings were different but mainly related with the central ministry of the Chief Apostle and its claim for supremacy. The ministry of a Chief Apostle cannot be proved by the Bible as well as no other church leader can derive his absolute power from the special position of Peter among the diciples.

The new apostolic Chief Apostle Niehaus was led more and more by emotions, dreams and visions after 1914. The Saxonian Apostle Brueckner became the solicitor for all those who critized the spiritual views of the Chief Apostle and the worshipping of his person. The different opinions led to the exclusion of Apostle Brueckner and some thousand believers in 1921. The excluded founded the "Reformiert-Apostolischen Gemeindebund" soon.

The main reason for the great splittings of the New Apostolic Church in Switzerland 1954 and West-Germany 1955 was the new teaching in 1951 of the then reigning Chief Apostle J.G. Bischoff. This teaching presumed that he would not die before Jesus Christ returns and takes the predestined into his kingdom (First Resurrection). In 1954 this teaching became an official dogma. Those ministries especially the apostles who did not preach this lost their office and were excluded from the New Apostolic Church. Chief Apostle Bischoff died in 1960, without his dogma being fulfilled. There was no rehabiblitation of the excommunicated ministries to this day.
The various communities and congregations which evolved out of these conflicts in different countries (Australia, Europe, South-Africa) gathered 1956 in the "United Apostolic Church".
Besides mere structural changes the "United Apostolic Church" made important new orientations and reforms also in theological questions, returning back to the roots of the Catholic-Apostolic Church.

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© Vereinigung Apostolischer Christen Schweiz, 18.01.2000