The impulse to the prayer movement in the 1820s was given (among others) by the Anglican priest James Haldane Stewart. He made an appeal to this by means of more than half a million pamphlets which were spread throughout Great Britain, the U.S.A. and on the Continent. They longed for renewed spiritual power, as had been visible in the first century after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the young church. This movement was by no means restricted to the British Isles, similar investigations and prayers being offered in France, Germany and elsewhere.
In 1830 prophetic utterances were recorded in Port Glasgow, Scotland among Dissenters and Karlshuld, Bavaria among Roman Catholics. These took the form of prophecy, speaking in tongues and miraculous healing. They were regarded as the answer to the prayers that many had been making. These occurrences spread in Scotland and England where certain ministers allowed their practice, although they were not approved of by existing church authorities; however they died out in Bavaria under the opposition of the responsible clergy.
Edward Irving, also a minister in the Church of Scotland and supporter of Campbell, preached in his church at Regent Square in London the speedy return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the real substance of his human nature (see the article on Edward Irving for details, and the link in "Online Resources" for an example of the attacks on him and the later work). He attracted thousands of listeners, even from the highest circles, and during his summer tours in Scotland (1827, 1828) believers came to listen to him with tens of thousands in attendance.
Irving's relationship to this community was, according to its members, somewhat similar to that of John the Baptist to the early Christian Church, i.e. he was the forerunner of the coming dispensation, not the founder of a new sect. Around him, as well as around other congregations of different origins, coalesced spiritual persons who had been driven out of other parts of the church for the exercise of their spiritual gifts. Shortly after Irving's trial and deposition (1831), he restarted meetings in a hired hall in London, and much of his original congregation followed him. These, over the course of the next two years, accepting the presence of restored Apostles and guided by words of prophecy, saw Edward Irving officially installed as their bishop. This congregation became known as the "Central Church", one of seven that were defined in London as forming a pattern of the whole Christian Church.
The names of the apostles were: J. B. Cardale, H. Drummond, H. King-Church, S. Perceval, N. Armstrong, F. V. Woodhouse, H. Dalton, J. O. Tudor, T. Carlyle, F. Sitwell, W. Dow, and D. Mackenzie. The following account has been given of their antecedents by one who knew them personally:
Classed by their religious position, eight of them were members of the Church of England; three of the Church of Scotland; and one of the Independents. Classed by their occupations and social positions, three were clergymen, three were members of the bar, three belonged to the gentry, two of them being members of Parliament; and of the remaining three, one was an artist, one a merchant, and one held the post of Keeper of the Tower. Some of them were of the highest standing socially and politically, some of them of great ability as scholars and theologians; and all of them men of unblemished character, soundness in the faith, and abundant zeal in all Christian labors.
The twelve apostles were afterwards guided to ordain twelve prophets, twelve evangelists, and twelve pastors, and also seven deacons for administering the temporal affairs of the Catholic church. These, together with the seven congregations in London, the coadjutors of the Apostles, and certain bishops specially designated throughout the world, formed what was known as the "Universal Church". The seat of the Apostolic College was at Albury, near Guildford. They retired there immediately after their separation to set in order the worship and prepare a "Testimony" of their work. This was presented to the spiritual and temporal rulers in all parts of Christendom in 1836, beginning with an appeal to the bishops of the Anglican church in England, then in a more comprehensive form to the Pope and other leaders in Christendom, including the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, the Tsar of Russia, the Kings of France, Prussia, Denmark, and Sweden, as well as King William IV of England. The Apostles declared that the Church was the body of all that had been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, thus laying aside all divisions between nominal Christians, and that the Apostolate had been restored for setting the whole body of Christianity in order to be ready for the Second Coming of Christ; therefore they called upon all the clergy and lay authorities to recognise this and submit. Uniquely among revivals, there was no attempt to form a new sect.
Each apostle would have one coadjutor, who was used to travel through areas of his responsibility and represent the Apostle in conferences.
Three grades of ordained ministry were recognised: Bishop (referred to as "Angel", following the passage in Revelations chapters 2 and 3); Priest; and Deacon. Ministers could be reassigned from one congregation to another by word of prophecy, except for inducted Angels who were considered to be "married" to the congregation of which they had charge. Each rank had different vestments to differentiate their function. It also occurred that people would be called to an office (say, that of priest) but would fulfil a lower rank (say, that of deacon) until it became clear where they would serve. This clarification was either prophetic or practical in character - if a priest was needed somewhere such a person might be asked to take up the role, or a special mission might be accorded.
All grades were allowed to preach sermons and homilies. All sermons were referred to the Apostles, in order to ensure that the teachings were in accordance with the Bible, revealed truth, and the Apostles' doctrine.
The Catholic Apostolic Church had among its clergy many clerics of the Roman, Anglican and other churches, the orders of those ordained by Greek, Roman, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Anglican bishops being recognized by it with the simple confirmation of their ordination through an apostolic act.
Certain Angels were designated as "Archangels", which occurred in two classes: the "metropolitan" archangels, of which there were supposed to be 6 in each tribe (this was never fully implemented throughout the Tribes); and the "universal" archangels, who were called by word of prophecy to the post without being in charge of a "metropolitan congregation"; these last were at the disposition of the Apostles for missions within the Church at large.
All Angels received a (small) salary and were "separated" - that is, they had no other work to support them.
The deacons were not identified by word of prophecy but elected by the congregations. Certain names would be put forward, and each family would have one preference vote.
The fourfold ministry was necessary to perform the full services of the liturgy; four priests, one of each border, had to be present along with the bishop. The border could be defined for any person or minister; thus there were combinations of rank and border in any manner, for instance there were Angel-prophets as the were Angel-evangelists, priest-prophets as well as priest-elders, deacon-pastors as well as deacon-prophets, and so on. Certain of these combinations often implied particular roles, the Angel-Evangelists being particularly responsible for evangelism within their geographical region or tribe, while Angel-prophets were automatically at the disposal of the Apostles in Albury.
The elder was generally in charge of organisation and declaring doctrine. The function of the prophets was to explain Scripture, minister the word of prophecy, and exhort to holiness, as well as to identify spiritual influences and borders (though this last had to be done in special meetings for the purpose and not at any time that pleased the prophet); the evangelist was used to declare the Gospel and explain the Bible teachings; and the pastor was used for the teaching of truth, and the provision of spiritual counsel and comfort to the laity.
This four-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastors was the realisation of St. Paul's definition of the various levels of ministry in his Epistles.
Once a congregation had an angel and the fourfold ministry from local people (not including ministers who had transferred from other congregations), the full services could be held. This was announced by the hanging of seven lamps across the chancel.
Two Acolytes accompanied the Angel during the celebration of the services, as well others who would help robe the ministers beforehand but would not accompany the service.
Deaconesses received blessing from the Angel, but were unordained. They mainly helped the Deacons in their care for the congregations, particularly towards the women.
Lay-assistants were also blessed for various reasons related to church work.
All unordained officers would wear a cassock in church, though they would usually sit with the congregation.
Two underdeacons or lay-assistants would be designated as "scribes", in order to record any words of prophecy and also write down the sermons and homilies as they were preached. After comparing their accounts, the copy would be sent to the Apostles so that they could understand the spiritual state of the congregations. They would also note any prophetic utterances and submit them to the Angel.
Each tribe was under the special charge of an apostle and his co-ministers. The apostles always held the supreme authority, though, as their number dwindled, their coadjutors inherited their responsibilities as long as they lived, and assisted the survivors in the functions of the apostolate. The last apostle, Francis Valentine Woodhouse, died on February 3, 1901.
The central episcopacy of forty-eight was regarded as indicated by prophecy, being foreshown in the forty-eight boards of the Mosaic tabernacle. All of the functions, ordinances, vestments and symbols were thus taken from the Bible and were said to be the fulfilment of how the Primitive Church was originally set up under the first Apostles. All members were expected to be spiritual, there was no limitation of spiritual manifestations to the clergy, and contacts on spiritual matters between the clergy and the laity were encouraged, though only ordained ministers were allowed to preach or take services.
The church was to be laid out in three distinct parts, corresponding to the three divisions of the temple or tabernacle. The nave would be for the congregation, then slightly elevated by a step or two the chancel for the priests and deacons (deacons sitting in cross benches at the entrance and priests along the sides). The third part, slightly elevated again with regard to the chancel and separated from it by a low barrier with a gate, was the sanctuary. Communion would be distributed to the faithful kneeling at this barrier, the ministrant being inside the sanctuary. The sanctuary contained the altar, placed centrally against the wall or dividing partition, and usually elevated on a pedestal.
The altar was usually ornate, with a receptacle (referred to as the "tabernacle") for storage of the Eucharist on top. Either side of the altar would be a lamp, lit during high services. Hanging centrally over the sanctuary would be another lamp, lit when the eucharist was stored in the "tabernacle". If the congregation had the fourfold ministry, the seven lamps, reminiscent of the seven-branched candlestick of the Jewish rituals, would hang over the chancel near the sanctuary. These would be lit in the morning and put out after the evening service. All lamps were oil lamps with wicks and only pure olive oil was used. There would be a special chair or "throne" for the Angel at the end of the chancel on the left; in the middle of the chancel at the same level would be a special kneeler used by the angel during the intercession part of the service; a censer stand stood next to it. Over on the right side of the chancel stood a table of prothesis used for the to-be-consecrated bread and wine for the communion, as well as other offerings as the service demanded. A lectern was provided in the chancel on the right side for the Scripture readings; while at the front of the chancel two further lecterns, on the left and on the right, were used for the Gospel and Epistle readings in the Eucharist service. A pulpit on the left side (as looking towards the altar) would be provided for preaching: sometimes this would be placed adjoining the chancel, sometimes in the nave among the congregation. At the back of the nave near an entrance a font with a cover would be placed for baptisms.
There is no collection during the service, but a trunk with various compartments for the different types of offerings is placed at the entrance to the church. These are generally divided into tithes, general offerings, thank-offerings, offerings for the upkeep of the church, the poor, and support for the universal ministry. Uniquely this trunk was left untouched until the presentation of the offerings during the Eucharist on Sundays, when it would be emptied and counted in a vestry by two deacons during part of the service, before a prayer of dedication to the purposes outlined would be pronounced. Distribution of money to the poor, not just members, was regularly practised.
Following the more or less complete rejection of their Testimony, the Apostles were led to set up congregations to look after those who had accepted them and had been excluded from their habitual places of worship, and to install in them the forms of worship that they had been led to identify. In the 1850s the clergy of the Church of England were invited to come and see what had been set up, but this too remained fruitless. The services were published as "The Liturgy and other Divine Offices of the Church". Although many forms and prayers were taken over from different parts of the Church, many had to be written by the Apostles since they did not exist elsewhere; about two thirds of the Liturgy was original. The Apostle Mr Cardale put together two large volumes of writings about the Liturgy, with references to its history and the reasons for operating in the ways defined, which was published under the title "Readings on the Liturgy".
Each day morning and evening services were held at 6 am and 5 pm. These, together with the Eucharist (11 am on Sundays) and the Forenoon service which immediately preceded it, were considered services of obligation, to be attended as often as other duties allowed. Afternoon services were also instituted. The apostles did not limit the services to these hours and other services could be held with the angel's permission.
There existed full and shorter forms. The full form could only be offered in a church under an inducted angel, where the four ministries had been provided by members of the congregation (rather than ministers co-opted from other congregations).
Each service in the full form started with an act of confession, followed by absolution, reading of the scriptures, anthems, psalms and the recital of the creed. The fourfold ministry would then offer the four Pauline divisions of prayer - supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, with the addition of collects for the seasons and with the Lord's prayer placed in the centre. Following this, the angel would offer a prayer of universal intercession, at which time also incense would be offered. The service would close with an anthem and a universal blessing from the angel. Shorter forms followed almost the same course but without the four divisions of prayer, without incense and in a less elaborate form.
Comprehensive special services were also provided for many other occasions, both public and private, including ordinations, special days of humiliation or rejoicing, blessings for work and visiting the sick. For more information see the liturgy.
Numerous examples of miracles as well as the spiritual gifts described in the Pauline Epistles were recorded. As therein described, the existence of a spiritual gift does not convey any superiority of the person involved but a benefit for the whole church; and each person may exhibit a gift as the Holy Ghost so moves them.
Infant baptism was practised, on the grounds that it was the only gate to eternal life and it seemed wrong to deny this to anyone. The child would receive first communion shortly afterwards, and then again after the age of five about once per year. With the agreement of the responsible minister this would be increased to three times per year at the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost as the child grew up, with communion once per month after the age of fourteen or so. Full communion was entered into in a formal service not long before the laying on of the apostle's hands was to be arranged.
Indeed, sectarianism is wholly rejected: the basic principle is that all who are baptized in the name of the Trinity are Christian and form part of one church. The name was taken directly from the Apostles' Creed as belonging to all Christians and not designating something new.
Inspired by outbreaks of agalliasis (manifestations of the Spirit), and miraculous healing, the numbers of those who accepted the Apostles throughout the world grew at an amazing rate. The majority, after the rejection of the Apostles by the other churches, were cared for in separated congregations with ordained ministries. However, when the last apostle died in 1901 without an appearance of the 'Light of the World', the Catholic Apostolic Church declined; since ordination was only possible with Apostolic consent, no further consecrations to the ministry could be made. External evangelism, common since the beginning in 1835, ceased at the same time, and all services were reduced to a shorter form, even in congregations where the full Ministry was operating.
Estimated membership at the beginning of the 20th century was 200,000, in almost 1000 congregations worldwide, spread as follows: England: 315, Scotland 28, Ireland: 6, Germany: 348, Netherlands: 17, Austria/Hungary: 8, Switzerland: 41, Norway: 10, Sweden: 15, Denmark: 59, Russia, Finland, Poland and the Baltic States: 18, France: 7, Belgium: 3, Italy: 2, USA: 29, Canada: 13, Australia: 15, New Zealand: 5, South Africa: 1.
The last Angel died in 1960 in Siegen, Germany; the last Priest in 1971 in London, England; the last Deacon in 1972 in Melbourne, Australia.
After the death of three apostles in 1855 the apostolate declared that there was no reason to call new apostles. Two callings of substitutes ("Jesus calleth thee Apostolic Messenger. He would use thee Coadjutor for him whom He hath gathered to Himself.") were explained by the apostolate in 1860 as Coadjutors to the remaining apostles. After this event another apostle was called in Germany in 1862 by the prophet Heinrich Geyer. The Apostles did not agree with this calling, and therefore the larger part of the Hamburg congregation who followed their 'angel' F.W. Schwartz in this schism were excommunicated. Out of this sprang the Allgemeine Christliche Apostolische Mission (ACAM) in 1863 and the Dutch branch of the Restored Apostolic Mission Church (at first known as Apostolische Zending, since 1893 officially registered as Hersteld Apostolische Zendingkerk (HAZK)). This later became the New Apostolic Church. The person called to be an apostle later recanted and was accepted back into his original rank.
John S. Davenport explained their theology by saying that the changes which attend the Coming of the Lord will not be such as will attract the attention or the gaze of men.
The pending judgments, such as are announced by the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse - the political, ecclesiastical, and social changes which they involve, will seem to come about as ordinary events in human history, produced by the changes that were working in society.
The rising up of the Antichrist and his full revelation will appear as the outcome of changes of opinion that have been going on for a long time, and will be upon men before they are aware of it.
It is only they who are looking for the Lord's appearing, who have received with faith and reverence the warnings of the great event, who will recognize its tokens and not be taken by surprise.
Grayson Carter, Anglican Evangelicals. Protestant Secessions From the via media, c.1800-1850. Oxford, OUP, 2001. ISPN: 0-19-827008-9