New Apostolic Church
Overview
The New Apostolic Church (NAC) is a chiliastic
Millennialism
Millennialism , or chiliasm in Greek, is a belief held by some Christian denominations that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which "Christ will reign" for 1000 years prior to the final judgment and future eternal state...

 church, converted to Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 as a free church
Free church
The term "free church" refers to a Christian denomination that is intrinsically separated from government . A free church does not define government policy, nor have governments define church policy or theology, nor seeks or receives government endorsement or funding for its general mission...

 from the Catholic Apostolic Church
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

. The church has existed since 1879 in Germany and since 1897 in the Netherlands. It came about from the schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

  in 1863, when it demerged from the Catholic Apostolic Church, which itself started in the 1830s as a renewal movement in, among others, the Anglican Church and Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

.

Premillennialism
Premillennialism
Premillennialism in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Jesus will literally and physically be on the earth for his millennial reign, at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration...

 and the Second Coming of Christ are at the forefront of the New Apostolic doctrines.
Encyclopedia
The New Apostolic Church (NAC) is a chiliastic
Millennialism
Millennialism , or chiliasm in Greek, is a belief held by some Christian denominations that there will be a Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which "Christ will reign" for 1000 years prior to the final judgment and future eternal state...

 church, converted to Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 as a free church
Free church
The term "free church" refers to a Christian denomination that is intrinsically separated from government . A free church does not define government policy, nor have governments define church policy or theology, nor seeks or receives government endorsement or funding for its general mission...

 from the Catholic Apostolic Church
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

. The church has existed since 1879 in Germany and since 1897 in the Netherlands. It came about from the schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

  in 1863, when it demerged from the Catholic Apostolic Church, which itself started in the 1830s as a renewal movement in, among others, the Anglican Church and Church of Scotland
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland, known informally by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is a Presbyterian church, decisively shaped by the Scottish Reformation....

.

Premillennialism
Premillennialism
Premillennialism in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Jesus will literally and physically be on the earth for his millennial reign, at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’ physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration...

 and the Second Coming of Christ are at the forefront of the New Apostolic doctrines. Most of its doctrines are akin to mainstream Christianity and, especially its liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

, to Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, whereas its hierarchy and organisation could be compared with the Roman Catholic Church.

The church considers itself to be the re-established continuation of the Early Church and that its leaders are the successors of the twelve apostles
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

. This doctrine resembles Restorationism in some aspects.

The official abbreviation in English-speaking countries is NAC (for New Apostolic Church), whereas it is NAK in German (Neuapostolische Kirche), ENA in French (Église Néo Apostolique), and INA in Portuguese (Igreja Nova Apostólica) and Spanish (Iglesia Nueva Apostólica).

The Catholic Apostolic Church

In England in 1832, John Bate Cardale
John Bate Cardale
John Bate Cardale was the first apostle of the Catholic Apostolic Church.J. B. Cardale was born in London on 7 November 1802, as the eldest of five children. In 1815 he entered Rugby School and in 1818 joined his father's law firm, though he would have preferred to take holy orders...

 was called, through prophecies
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

, as the first apostle of the second sending. Eleven more men from various Christian denominations, social positions and religious training were called to the newly founded apostle ministry from then until 1835. After a long period of combined preparation, these apostles started to travel around the world, preaching the gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

. The main point of their gospel was that the Church had deviated from its origins; only through restoring the Universal Church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

 to its perfect state could the return of Christ be ensured. They were convinced that the restoration of the apostles' ministry was necessary to achieve that perfect condition.

After the death of three apostles in 1855, the apostolate declared that there was no reason to call new apostles. During a meeting at Albury in 1860, the German Prophet Heinrich Geyer called two evangelists to be apostles. After deliberation, the apostles rejected this calling, explained the callings of substitutes as coadjutors
Coadjutor bishop
A coadjutor bishop is a bishop in the Roman Catholic or Anglican churches who is designated to assist the diocesan bishop in the administration of the diocese, almost as co-bishop of the diocese...

 to the remaining apostles and affirmed that no further callings to the apostolate would be accepted.

Break from the Catholic Apostolic Church

Later, on 10 October 1862, while traveling with the Apostle Woodhouse in Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

, the Prophet Geyer called Rudolf Rosochaki to be an apostle while staying in his home. As callings in private were no longer accepted by the English apostles, Rosochaki was told to wait patiently until God would confirm his calling in the presence of witnesses. In December, Geyer informed Angel (Bishop) F.W. Schwartz, of the Hamburg congregation, that Rosochaki had been called and Angel Schwartz then invited both of them to Hamburg. In the afternoon service of 4 January 1863, Schwartz asked the men to describe what had happened and Schwartz, along with most of the congregation, accepted this calling of Rosochaki to the apostolate.

A few days later Apostle Rosochaki became doubtful of the divine origin of his calling as an Apostle after meeting with some of the other apostles. Eventually, he subordinated himself once more to Apostle Woodhouse and left the schismatics, returning to the Catholic Apostolic congregation on 17 January 1863. On 26 January 1863 Angel Schwartz met with Apostle Woodhouse and Archangel Rothe in Berlin and expressed his belief in the need to continue the Apostle ministry. Therefore, on 6 February 1863 Apostle Woodhouse informed the Hamburg congregation, in writing, of its expulsion from the Catholic Apostolic Church
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

. This is commonly known as the "Hamburg Schism". The Hamburg congregation, along with Prophet Geyer, split off to form the Allgemeine Apostolische Mission (General Apostolic Congregation) in 1863, and shortly thereafter the Dutch
Dutch people
The Dutch people are an ethnic group native to the Netherlands. They share a common culture and speak the Dutch language. Dutch people and their descendants are found in migrant communities worldwide, notably in Suriname, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United...

 branch of the Restored Apostolic Mission Church
Restored Apostolic Mission Church
The Restored Apostolic Mission Church was a bible-believing, chiliastic church society in the Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and Australia. It came forth from the Catholic Apostolic Congregation at Hamburg that separated itself from the mother-church in 1863...

, at first known as Apostolische Zending and officially registered as Hersteld Apostolische Zendingkerk (HAZK) in 1893. Today, 4 January 1863 is considered the date on which the New Apostolic Church was established.

As Rosochaki had returned to the Catholic Apostolic Church, this left the newly independent Hamburg congregation without apostolic authority: no more believers could be sealed; no ministers could be ordained. On 12 April 1863, a deacon delivered a prophecy calling Priest Carl Louis Preuss as an Apostle. Prophet Heinrich Geyer confirmed this calling a little later. On 25 May 1863, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz was also called as an Apostle through many prophetically gifted members in the congregation, and also through Prophet Geyer. Thus began the work of the Apostles of the New Order, with German "apostles" spreading "the word" around the world.

The First Schism

The Prophet Geyer initiated the first schism in the new body for the same reason as the schism from the English Apostles and as for leaving the Catholic Apostolic congregations, namely Apostles not validating the Prophet's call for an Apostle. Friction existed between the Prophet Geyer and Apostle Preuss concerning whether Prophets or Apostles had higher authority, and when Apostle Preuss died on 25 July 1878, open conflict broke out. Geyer had already called the coal dealer Johannes F.L. Gueldner as an apostle in a private meeting four months before apostle Preuss' death. Apostle Preuss had refused to recognize this calling and, on his deathbed, designated Elder Wichmann as his successor. However, he was not able to stop Geyer because "the word of a prophet carried more weight in those days than the word of the Lord".

Geyer called Gueldner again as an apostle, and as the successor of Preuss, in a service on 4 August 1878. The majority of the Hamburg congregation protested, Wichmann stepped up to the altar and, without much ado, relieved Geyer from his ministry. The ensuing tumult led to a flurry of apostle callings. Wichmann's wife, supported by her son, called him an apostle through prophecy. A maid called her master as an apostle, also by prophecy. Other prophetic people called a fourth person as an apostle. The result of this chaos was that none of those who were called could prevail. Wichmann told Geyer that he had to leave, so Geyer left the church with his followers, taking their vestments and several sacramental items with them. A successor for Preuss was not selected at this time (this happened later in 1880). Going by a prophecy, the remaining Hamburg congregation gave themselves under the care of Apostle Menkhoff but the congregation had suffered severe losses from the schism.

Geyer and his followers founded a new congregation in Hamburg named Apostolische Mission (Apostolic Mission). They built a chapel and "served" together with Gueldner, also in Silesia. His congregation never gained any importance, and wasted away after his death in 1896. The remainder of the Hamburg congregation adopted the name Allgemeine Christliche Apostolische Mission (General Christian Apostolic Mission).

The Chief Apostle Office established

After the death of Apostle H.F. Schwartz, the remaining active Apostles of the New Order formed a central, ruling ministry in the form of the "Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

" in either 1895, 1896 or 1897, and designated Friedrich Krebs to this office. It is important to note that this office did not exist before Schwartz's death. He had been an Angel (Bishop) in the Catholic Apostolic Church, which was opposed to designating any one person as head of the church, citing that Christ is the head of the Christian Church. In contrast, the role of the Chief Apostle ministry was not intended to usurp the leadership of Christ, but more realistically aimed to continue the succession of Simon Peter, as Christ's immediate subordinate on Earth.

In 1895, there were only six active Apostles, three in Europe and one each in South Africa, Australia, and Indonesia. With the establishment of a higher Apostolic office, the Chief Apostle appointed all subsequent Apostles as opposed to prophetic calling, which had been fundamental since the formation of the Catholic Apostolic Church. By 1899, the traditional limit of twelve apostles had been discarded and more men were ordained as Apostles. Parallel to the progress of the New Apostolic denomination, schisms occurred on several occasions elsewhere in the world. The reasons for those divisions were different but mainly related to disputes regarding the central ministry of the Chief Apostle.

Development during the 20th century

In August 1906, Chief Apostle Niehaus ordained Apostle Helper Johann Gottfried Bischoff as District Apostle of the Middle Germany
Middle Germany
Central Germany is an economic and cultural region in Germany. Its exact borders depend on context, but it is often defined as being a region within the federal states of Saxony, Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt, or a smaller part of this region .The name dates from the German Empire, when the region...

 and Württemberg
Württemberg
Württemberg , formerly known as Wirtemberg or Wurtemberg, is an area and a former state in southwestern Germany, including parts of the regions Swabia and Franconia....

 district, replacing the late Apostle Ruff. He also renamed the Neuapostolische Gemeinde (New Apostolic Congregation) as Neuapostolische Kirche (New Apostolic Church) and created a public corporation for it. He ordained numerous young ministers and regularly convened conferences of apostles. He founded the periodical church publication Apostolisches Sonntagsblatt (Apostolic Sunday Paper), later Neuapostolische Rundschau (New Apostolic Review), in 1907 as an additional weekly publication to go along with Der Herold and Wächterstimme von Ephraim (Watchman's Voice of Ephraim). In 1908 he issued the Allgemeinen Hausregeln (General House Rules) and in 1916 he wrote the first textbook about the New Apostolic faith Fragen  &  Antworten (Questions &  Answers). This book still exists in its revised 1992 version, but will be replaced by the new catechism.

As the first of the Chief Apostles, Apostle Niehaus and Apostle Carl August Brückner visited United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 congregations on 19 August 19, 1909. The outbreak of war in 1914
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 brought high exposure to the church. The soldiers at the frontlines were administered the Holy Communion by field post as bread hosts with three drops of wine on them. This practice was established in every congregation in 1917 and remains to this day. While the Holy Communion had originally been celebrated separately with bread and wine, the current practice uses unleavened bread wafers which are manufactured with three drops of wine trickled onto each.

The name Neuapostolische Kirche (New Apostolic Church) came into use in North America as early as 1918. A variety of names had been used there previously, including German Apostolic Church and Apostolic Church. This name was uniformly adopted in Germany in the late 1920s as well.

A cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

 materialized around the Chief Apostle and became apparent at his birthday celebrations. On the occasion of his 80th birthday, and the sixty year anniversary of the church ministry, a book with the name Der Grösste unter ihnen (The greatest among them) was published by the other apostles. On 25 January 1930, the day before his 25 year anniversary as Chief Apostle, he fell down the stairs in an accident and was pressed to give up his duties. He remained diligent but was finally retired by the council of apostles on 21 September 1930. He died on 23 August 1932 at the age of 84 years. The members of the church called him "Vater Niehaus" (Father).

In 1905, Chief Apostle Niehaus oversaw six Apostle Districts with 488 congregations. At the end of his tenure, there were twelve European Apostle Districts with about 1,600 congregations and further 200 congregations overseas. The New Apostolic Church in Germany counted 138,000 members in 1925.

The initially deep ecumenical conviction, which was cultivated in the Catholic Apostolic Church
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

 and then by Heinrich Geyer, had declined over time due to heavy conflicts with other Christian denominations, perhaps because the theologian education
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 of ministers in the Catholic Apostolic Church may have been lacking (only a few had been Catholic Apostolic ministers before), or there may have been rejection by the national church
National church
National church is a concept of a Christian church associated with a specific ethnic group or nation state. The idea was notably discussed during the 19th century, during the emergence of modern nationalism....

es.

The lower social classes, from which important ministers were drawn, were essential for the growth of the church. Nationalistic appeals can be found in hymnaries and theological scriptures from that time. Also, significantly for that period, the church's structure became increasingly hierarchical. The most charismatic element of the Catholic Apostolic Church, prophecies, became rarer (the last oral lore dates from the 1980s) and the Prophet Ministry disappeared. In fact, a total reform of the evangelical pattern can be observed and which became apparent by expelling Catholic Apostolic influences.

Setbacks in Nazi Germany

The New Apostolic Church, like many other small organizations and societies, had to accept compromises with the National Socialist
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 regime to avoid being prohibited or persecuted. Even though the Christian faith and basic principles of the New Apostolic Church fundamentally contradicted the world view of National Socialism, the church was not prohibited, unlike a number of other religious communities or sects. The extent which National Socialist views and attitudes were spread within the church, and whether this happened out of fear of reprisals or one's own expulsion, is today still a controversial subject between the church and its critics.

All the New Apostolic congregations were prohibited in 1933. Then-Chief Apostle Bischoff tried to establish relations with the National Socialist regime in order to have the prohibitions removed. As a result, Mr Müller-Scheid, regional head administrator for Hessen-Nassau
Nassau, Germany
Nassau is a town located in the German Land of Rhineland-Palatinate. It lies in the Lahn River valley between the cities of Bad Ems and Limburg an der Lahn. Nassau is the seat of the Verbandsgemeinde of Nassau. The town is on the German-Dutch holiday road, the Orange Route...

 in the Reich Ministry for Propaganda, and assistant of Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

, wrote a recommendation letter for Chief Apostle Bischoff, "Friedrich Bischoff is a party comrade, known to me for years, and politically and humanly utterly reliable" (translation).

On 21 March 1933, Bischoff preached that the Führer sent by God had now come, and he let the text of that speech be sent to the Reich Chancellery
Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945...

. On 25 April 1933, in a circular letter to the ministers, Bischoff explained that, regarding believers' application for membership, it would be good "to submit personal data of such persons to the responsible chapter of the NSDAP for a verification" and not complete their admission into the church until a declaration of non-objection was received from the NSDAP. The Hebrew word "Zion" was removed from the title of the church publication.

Racist and political phrases found their way into church publications from a travelogue by Bischoff, "Blacks and Jews are climbing the social ladder up and up, with their cheap manpower they also dislodge the better salaried white from positions which should appertain to the white only... The coloured element has proceeded to attack... Validly, we have denied everything we have been offered in cinemas, theatres and literature as a product of a Jewish-Marxist clique" (translation), and later in the same year, "It is true, the white has been able to preserve a certain dominance, but it has begun to totter and it is going to totter ever more, the more influence the Jew wins; it is his goal namely, to split all the nations, to hold them down, and to exploit them" (translation).

Despite the National Socialist propaganda which the church was made to spread, some sources tell of converted Jews in the congregations being helped by the New Apostolic Christians. Although many of the Apostles joined the NSDAP for reasons of fear, there were a few Apostles and District Apostles who publicly expressed their adverse attitude toward the regime.

According to Nazi requirements, all divine services had to be concluded with a "Heil Hitler". Some ministers' congregation chiefs did not obey those orders, especially in rural areas. This led to several congregations being closed repeatedly over time. According to church accounts, prohibitions were cancelled partially, with hardship. This became apparent by other measures adopted. The Nazis burdened the New Apostolic Church with inordinately high duties, suppressed youth care, arbitrarily rejected purchases of land and establishment of chapels, did not allow collection of offerings and prohibited the release of church publications as well as printing of bibles and hymnaries.

This attitude was explained in 1996 by Chief Apostle Richard Fehr, while church spokesman Peter Johanning elaborated on it in 2003. Johanning gave an account of a Jugendfreund article of July 1933, in which "allegiance" was already invoked shortly after Hitler's seizure of power. By referencing Sir 10 EU, that text legitimized the relation of church and state, "It may be regarded as naive today, but age back then revealed different reasonings".

At that time ministers of the church were actually implored by church guidelines to abstain from political representation. "This avowal for non-political work of the church" signalled "the purposeful idea of the church administration to abstain unambiguously from any political representation, even though here and there the reality looked different". Furthermore, the spokesman described Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr was the seventh Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church from 22 May 1988 to 15 May 2005.-Life:...

's explanations concerning this issue, regarding the church administration's adaptation as on purpose "in order to perform more preaching of the Gospel".

"Botschaft" by Chief Apostle Bischoff

On Christmas Day 1951, during service in Giessen, Germany, Chief Apostle J.G. Bischoff delivered his "Botschaft" ("message"), announcing that the Lord had made known to him that he would not die before the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 of Jesus Christ, during which the chosen people
Chosen people
Throughout history and even today various groups of people have considered themselves as chosen by a deity for some purpose such as to act as the deity's agent on earth. In monotheistic faiths, like Abrahamic religions, references to God are used in constructs such as "God's Chosen People"...

 were to be taken into His kingdom (the First Resurrection). In 1954, this teaching became the church's official dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

. Those ministers, especially the apostles, who did not preach this message lost their positions and were excommunicated from the New Apostolic Church. Approximately one quarter of apostles active during this time resigned or retired early, several schisming to form their own denomination. The most important "victim" of this policy was Peter Kuhlen, who had been ordained in 1948 as the successor to J.G. Bischoff. The impact of this message varied regionally; all of the Apostles active in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 resigned or retired (1954), both Apostles in South America resigned (1957), several apostles in Europe (1954–55) resigned, but no schism formed in North America. When Chief Apostle Bischoff died on 7 July 1960, his dogma about Christ's return had not been fulfilled. In the service on 10 July 1960, Walter Schmidt was introduced as the new Chief Apostle and, during that service, the admonition to the members was to answer external critics with silence regarding the Bischoff Prophecy.

Even today, the church administration has not renounced the "Botschaft", but has set it at liberty for every church member to make his/her own opinion. According to Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber
Wilhelm Leber
Wilhelm Leber is a German mathematician and minister in the New Apostolic Church.-Life:Wilhelm Leber was born in Herford in Westphalia. In 1975 he earned his doctorate in mathematics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main with a dissertation entitled Konvergenzbegriffe für...

 it is "no dogma anymore". The excommunicated ministers and members have not been reinstated.

The first official removal of all exclusions, apology for opponents of the Botschaft prophecy—not for the prophecy itself—and attempted rapprochements regarding the prophecy were started in 2005 and 2006, in Switzerland and Saarland
Saarland
Saarland is one of the sixteen states of Germany. The capital is Saarbrücken. It has an area of 2570 km² and 1,045,000 inhabitants. In both area and population, it is the smallest state in Germany other than the city-states...

. Since then members of Apostolische Gemeinde des Saarlandes have been visiting New Apostolic divine services. Until end or 2007 the NAC and United Apostolic Church
United Apostolic Church
The member churches of the United Apostolic Church are independent communities in the tradition of the catholic-apostolic revival movement which started at the beginning of the 19th century in England and Scotland....

 (UAC) were reviewing common historical topics, supported and encouraged by liberal members. On December 4th, 2007 the NAC held a broadcasted information evening where the German apostles were blamed to be the only guilty persons for the circumstances and splits in 1955. As a result the talks were suspended by the UAC.

Beliefs

The New Apostolic Church sees itself as the re-established worker of salvation and continuation of the first Apostolic Church
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

, thus constituting the true congregation established by Jesus Christ. New Apostolic Christians believe in the Triune God: God the Father, the Creator
Creator deity
A creator deity is a deity responsible for the creation of the world . In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator deity, while polytheistic traditions may or may not have creator deities...

 of the world; the Son, Jesus Christ the Son of Man
Son of man
The phrase son of man is a primarily Semitic idiom that originated in Ancient Mesopotamia, used to denote humanity or self. The phrase is also used in Judaism and Christianity. The phrase used in the Greek, translated as Son of man is ὁ υἱὸς τοὺ ἀνθρώπου...

, personified God, redeemer
Redeemer (Christianity)
In Christian theology, Jesus is sometimes referred to as a Redeemer. This refers to the salvation he is believed to have accomplished, and is based on the metaphor of redemption, or "buying back". Although the New Testament does not use the title "Redeemer", the word "redemption" is used in several...

 and Head of the Church
Head of the Church
Head of the Church is a title given in the New Testament to Jesus. Roman Catholic theology will commonly distinguish between Visible Head and Invisible Head in order to allow the term to apply to human leadership in the Church.-New Testament:...

; and the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

, who guides the church by His revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

s, gives knowledge to the believers and acts universally. In this, NAC hardly differs from other Trinitarian churches.

The religion accepts the Apostles' Creed, believes in the sacramental nature of Holy Communion and baptism, considers the Bible as the authority of the Word of God, the next coming of Christ and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

According to French Bishop Jean Vernette
Jean Vernette
Jean Vernette , was a French priest of the diocese of Montauban. In 1973, he was appointed national secretary of the French episcopate for the study of cults and new religious movements. He published several books on cults and new therapies...

, the New Apostolic members are "strict millenarists", but sociologist Gilles Séraphin stated their millenarism is less pronounced than that of Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 and Adventists, and that this is a "église de Réveil", which retains a Pentecostal look from its origins.

Questions and Answers is the name of the New Apostolic Church's catechism
Catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

. Available for decades, it was most recently revised in 1992.

Bible

In the New Apostolic Church the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 is granted a high authority, because its writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

. The English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 congregations have officially used the New King James Version
New King James Version
The New King James Version is a modern translation of the Bible published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. The New Testament was published in 1979. The Psalms in 1980. The full Bible was published in 1982. It took a total of 7 years to complete...

 since 1998. It is the duty of the Apostles to watch over the regular exegesis. The apostles interpret the Bible in the same way as Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 and Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, except for their interpretation of Holy Sealing
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Christian theology is a term describing baptism in or with the Spirit of God...

 and beliefs about the departed
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

.

The District Apostles' meeting from 22–24 September 2004 in Nice
Nice
Nice is the fifth most populous city in France, after Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Toulouse, with a population of 348,721 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of more than 955,000 on an area of...

 emphasised again that the Holy Scripture is recognised and regarded as the doctrinal basis of the NAC. In particular, the statements of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, especially the gospel of Jesus and the epistles of the Apostles, are of definitive importance. Individual Biblical books and passages, along with statements of Apostles and ministers of the New Apostolic Church, must have grounding in the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine and its proclamation must not contradict the fundamental statements of the gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

.

The church regards the basis of this faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 as being found in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, including the Apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

. In 2005, a District Apostles Meeting declared that "the Apocrypha are just as binding for the faith and doctrine of the New Apostolic Church as the other writings of the Old Testament" (see official statement here).

Sacraments

The New Apostolic Church knows three sacraments:

Holy Baptism with water

The Holy Baptism with water
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 is part of the spiritual rebirth, and a prerequisite for receiving the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 in the Church. Both children and adults can be baptised. A person baptised as a child will later confess the baptism, at the age of 14–16, by confirmation. The baptism can be performed by priestly ministries.

Holy Baptism is taught to be the first and fundamental act of grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

 of the Triune God, bestowed on a person believing in Christ. The act of this sacrament includes the remission of the original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

. In this respect, the candidate for baptism has a share in Christ's merit, and experiences his first close relationship with God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. The person becomes a (visible) Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 and is thus adopted into the fellowship of those who believe in Jesus Christ and avow themselves to him. Baptisms performed by other Christian churches are recognised as long as they were performed with water and performed in the triune name of God
Trinitarian formula
The trinitarian formula is the phrase "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" , or words to that form and effect referring to the three persons of the Christian Trinity.- Biblical origin :...

.

Holy Communion

The sacrament of Holy Communion is celebrated "as a feast of joy and thankfulness" in every service. The Church teaches that this commemorates the sacrificial death of Christ, Son of God, who allowed himself to be crucified for the sins of mankind despite his innocence. Holy Communion preserves the eternal life
Eternal Life
"Eternal Life" is a song composed by Jeff Buckley and is track #9 on his album Grace. It also has a video. It is believed to have been influenced by a long-time love for Led Zeppelin's music and a wish to emulate them in this song...

 of the soul and accords it the security of remaining in the fellowship of life with its redeemer Jesus Christ. For the New Apostolic Church, the "body and blood" of Jesus are dispensed as bread and wine in the form of a consecrated wafer. By partaking of it in faith, an individual assimilates the nature of Jesus and receives "strength from God". The Holy Communion is available not only for members but also baptised members of the Church and those who have been invited as guests. Priestly ministries direct the Holy Communion.

Holy Sealing

Holy Sealing
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Christian theology is a term describing baptism in or with the Spirit of God...

 is the dispensing of the Holy Spirit. By this act the believer is filled with Holy Spirit as a strength of God, not as the third person of the Triune God. It is carried about through prayer and laying on of hands of an apostle, provided that the believer has been first baptised with water.

The Holy Baptism with water and the Holy Sealing together constitute the rebirth out of water and Spirit; by this the "childhood in God" is attained. As a child of God the believer is granted the opportunity to participate in the Second Coming of Christ. From this moment on the believer is an adherent of the New Apostolic Church. The Holy Sealing is also dispensed to children whereby the parents must profess their faith in the doctrine of Jesus and the apostles.

The church interprets the sacrament for example with the biblical text of 8:14–17 and .

Because Holy Sealing is an institutional manner of giving the Holy Spirit, conducted by the apostles of Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

, New Apostolic Church considers the "childhood in God" possible for other Christians as well referring to the overall acting of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8, Romans 18:7, 1. John 4:2).

Second Coming of Christ and eschatology

NAC represents the most frequent form of premillenialism. The Church teaches that the Second Coming
Second Coming
In Christian doctrine, the Second Coming of Christ, the Second Advent, or the Parousia, is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from Heaven, where he sits at the Right Hand of God, to Earth. This prophecy is found in the canonical gospels and in most Christian and Islamic eschatologies...

 of Jesus Christ is imminent, and the goal of faith is to be worthy to be the Bride of Christ when He returns.

Eschatology
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

 in the New Apostolic Church has been refined recently to this end-time sequence:
  1. The completion of the true body of Christ
    Body of Christ
    In Christian theology, the term Body of Christ has two separate connotations: it may refer to Jesus's statement about the Eucharist at the Last Supper that "This is my body" in , or the explicit usage of the term by the Apostle Paul in to refer to the Christian Church.Although in general usage the...

     (Invisible church
    Invisible church
    The invisible church or church invisible is a theological concept of an "invisible" body of the elect who are known only to God, in contrast to the "visible church"—that is, the institutional body on earth which preaches the gospel and administers the sacraments...

    )
  2. The return of Jesus Christ and the rapture of His bride
    Rapture
    The rapture is a reference to the "being caught up" referred to in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, when the "dead in Christ" and "we who are alive and remain" will be caught up in the clouds to meet "the Lord"....

  3. The marriage of the Lamb and, simultaneously, the great tribulation on earth – Steps 2 and 3 build the First Resurrection as written in the Bible
  4. The return and Jesus Christ and His congregation to the Earth
  5. The binding of Satan
    Satan
    Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...

  6. The resurrection
    Resurrection
    Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

     of the witnesses of Christ from the time of the great tribulation (martyr
    Martyr
    A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

    s)
  7. The establishment of the thousand-year kingdom of peace under the unrestricted rule of Jesus Christ
  8. The Last Judgment
    Last Judgment
    The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

  9. The new creation

Apostle ministry and exclusivism

The spiritual leaders of the New Apostolic Church are called Apostles. They are considered to be indispensable to preparing their members for the goal of faith. This goal is to be led into eternal community with God at the Second Coming of Christ. It takes center stage of a New Apostolic Christian's faith.

The Apostles of the New Apostolic Church consider themselves as successors of the first Apostles during Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

, who had been sent by Jesus Christ. In their tradition, they act as missionaries, who go to all men to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to prepare them for the Second Coming of Christ and eternal life. According to the NAC, the apostles are the only ones on earth who have the mission to forgive sins and baptise with the Holy Spirit. It is also a duty of the apostles, and all the ministers of the NAC, to affirm corporate feeling within the church and to support the members with pastoral care.

The New Apostolic Church teaches that Apostles are necessary for salvation. That means that God has re-established the apostle ministry in order to collect all the Christians for the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, the expression "necessary for salvation" indicates the plan of God that the apostle ministry must act on earth until His son returns. The question, Who will attend the Second Coming of Christ? is not answered with it. Because the Holy Spirit acts in other churches as well, God alone forgives sins, and may find His "Children
Divine filiation
Divine filiation is a Christian concept of becoming a "child of God". The concept implicates a share in the life and role of Jesus Christ. Divine filiation refers to the relationship between Jesus and God, specifically as the second person of the Trinity, "God the Son"...

" without Holy Sealing. The NAC considers the affiliation of non-members to the Second Coming of Christ to be possible.

The NAC also claims they would not contradict other churches who teach that final salvation is granted on day of Last Judgement. The NAC sees the period of activity of the apostles to reach to the Second Coming of Christ, but no further. By Last Judgement, there will be no visible church, but the faith in Christ will be the sole element. Thus the NAC denies any claim of absoluteness or religious totalitarianism
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

.

Faith on beyond and afterlife

A distinctive and controversial feature of the New Apostolic Church is its doctrine about the dead
Intermediate state
In Christian eschatology, the intermediate state or interim state refers to a person's "intermediate" existence between one's death and one's resurrection from the dead...

. A special divine service of remembrance and intercession
Intercession
Intercession is the act of interceding between two parties. In both Christian and Islamic religious usage, it is a prayer to God on behalf of others....

 in prayer takes place three times annually. In such divine services the apostles also administer the sacraments to a living subsidiary minister. Regarding this, New Apostolic Christians refer to several biblical texts such as .
There are no limitations to whom in the beyond may be baptised by apostles.

The Holy Communion is administered each Sunday in divine services held by a District Apostle or the Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

. It is possible for the dead to find grace before God and have their sins forgiven. It is also possible, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that the dead can find faith. Just as it is possible to be saved without finding the New Apostolic faith, the dead can be saved another way by Christ's grace, therefore without help of Apostles. The New Apostolic Church clearly states that most questions regarding this issue cannot be fully answered.

Moral conduct

The behaviour of New Apostolic Christians in their personal environment is marked by the wish to lead their lives according to God's will. This means to treat everybody with respect and to be helpful. The Second Coming of Christ is the main component of New Apostolic faith and life. Other significant elements are missionary work for Jesus Christ, open confession to the New Apostolic Church and love for one's fellow human beings.

The New Apostolic Church emphasises the personal accountability of its members for their actions. The individual is responsible to God for his behaviour. The gospel of Christ, and the system of values inherent in the Ten Commandments provide clear orientation in this respect. However, the church itself is politically neutral and independent. It is financed by the voluntary donations of its members.

New Apostolic Creed

This is the New Apostolic Creed circa 2010:
# Article
1 "I believe in God the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth".
2 "I believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, entered the realm of the dead, rose again from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven. He is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, from where He will return".
3 "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the one, holy, universal, and apostolic church, the community of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, and life everlasting".
4 "I believe that the Lord Jesus rules His Church and thereto sent His Apostles, and until His return, still sends them with the commission to teach, to forgive sins in His name and to baptise with water and Holy Spirit".
5 "I believe that those designated by God for a ministry are ordained only by Apostles, and that authority, blessing, and sanctification for their ministration come forth out of the apostle ministry".
6 "I believe that the Holy Baptism with water is the first step to a renewal of a human being in the Holy Spirit, and that the person baptised is adopted into the fellowship of those who believe in Jesus Christ and profess Him as their Lord".
7 "I believe that Holy Communion was instituted by the Lord Himself in memory of the once brought, fully valid sacrifice, and bitter suffering and death of Christ. The worthy partaking of Holy Communion establishes our fellowship with Jesus Christ, our Lord. It is celebrated with unleavened bread and wine; both must be consecrated and dispensed by a minister authorised by an Apostle".
8 "I believe that those baptised with water must, through an Apostle, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to attain the childhood in God and thereby the prerequisite for becoming a firstling".
9 "I believe that the Lord Jesus will return as surely as He ascended into heaven and that He will take to Himself the firstfruits of the dead and living who have hoped for and were prepared for His coming; that after the marriage in heaven
He will return to earth with them, to establish His kingdom of peace and that they will reign with Him as a royal priesthood. After the conclusion of the kingdom of peace, He will hold the Last Judgment. Then God will create a new heaven and a new earth and dwell with His people".
10 "I believe that I am obliged to obey the worldly authorities provided no godly laws are thereby transgressed".

Current changes

Committees (project groups) within the NAC meet from time to time, under the authority of the Chief Apostle, to discuss and revise some fundamental or exclusive views of the church concerning authority, historical or linguistic background. They frequently cite examples of the regular activity of large churches. This has led to corrections and clear distinctions to previous doctrines. The Chief Apostle describes these corrections as "focusing", because the church believes in a constant act of the Holy Spirit, who gives knowledge.

Blood transfusion, organ donation, stem-cell research

The New Apostolic Church does not have any objections to blood
Blood transfusion
Blood transfusion is the process of receiving blood products into one's circulation intravenously. Transfusions are used in a variety of medical conditions to replace lost components of the blood...

 or organ donation
Organ donation
Organ donation is the donation of biological tissue or an organ of the human body, from a living or dead person to a living recipient in need of a transplantation. Transplantable organs and tissues are removed in a surgical procedure following a determination, based on the donor's medical and...

, provided that either the donor consents or that brain death
Brain death
Brain death is the irreversible end of all brain activity due to total necrosis of the cerebral neurons following loss of brain oxygenation. It should not be confused with a persistent vegetative state...

 has already taken place.

The Church regards fertilisation
Fertilisation
Fertilisation is the fusion of gametes to produce a new organism. In animals, the process involves the fusion of an ovum with a sperm, which eventually leads to the development of an embryo...

 as the beginning of life. Each embryo
Embryo
An embryo is a multicellular diploid eukaryote in its earliest stage of development, from the time of first cell division until birth, hatching, or germination...

 is said to deserve urgent protection whether inside or outside the womb; it is not suitable material for research or destruction. However, the Church approves research with adult stem cells.

Concubinage

Concubinage
Concubinage
Concubinage is the state of a woman or man in an ongoing, usually matrimonially oriented, relationship with somebody to whom they cannot be married, often because of a difference in social status or economic condition.-Concubinage:...

, or a so-called trial marriage, is not approved by the New Apostolic Church if it consists of a couple living together in intimate relations in a common domicile, without having been married, without Church blessing and without intending to marry eventually. The Church recommends marriage and emphasises the importance of the marriage blessing for living together. Members in concubinage are not permitted to practice a ministerial or teaching function unless they intend to marry. Such lifestyle is not considered exemplary to others.

Ecumenism

The New Apostolic Church tries to be open toward the ecumenical movement. Contacts on local and institutional levels serve principally to enable better mutual acquaintance and to dismantle prejudices. Due to differences in doctrinal statements, it is not possible for the Church to participate in ecumenical divine services or acts of blessing. The New Apostolic Church has reinforced its efforts to cultivate good, neighbourly relationships with other churches and denominations. This occurs primarily through invitations to both the community and church congregations for special events and through combined benefit events for charitable purposes. Whether this may lead to membership status in the ecumenical movement cannot be determined at this time.

Evolution and evolutionary theory

The New Apostolic Church does not consider the broad theory of evolution to be a suitable explanation for the creation of life, because this theory does not take into consideration the presence of God as the Creator
Creator deity
A creator deity is a deity responsible for the creation of the world . In monotheism, the single God is often also the creator deity, while polytheistic traditions may or may not have creator deities...

. However the Church does not consider scientific insights on evolution to be in contradiction to the statements of the Bible.

The Church is careful to distinguish between evolutionary theory and evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 itself. While the theory in scientific terms does describe the laws according to which evolution takes place, it does not give any explanation as to the origin of the creation. By contrast, evolution — the continuing development within the living and the inanimate world — occurs according to the divinely prescribed laws of nature and does not contradict the statements of the Holy Scripture.

Homosexuality

The Church does not approve of homosexuality on a biblical basis, but it does offer tolerance. It is solely for God to determine whether, and to what extent, a person who is absolutely confirmed in his or her homosexual disposition acquires guilt before God through the practice of his or her homosexuality. In this regard, the Church expressly states that sexual disposition has no relevance in the pastoral care. Believers who are practicing homosexuals, or living in a homosexual partnership, are barred from performing ministerial and teaching duties in the Church because of the general intolerance towards homosexuals.

The Church published an official statement on sexual conduct in January 2005, and has issued several other written publications about the ideal lifestyle.

Suicide

According to the understanding of the Holy Scriptures, suicide is sin, because life is a gift of God. No human being has the right to take his or her own life, or that of any other human being. Likewise, no one has the right to condemn someone who has committed suicide. Only God is able to see all the factors involved, and He can also be gracious to such a soul according to His will.

Divine service, practices and pastoral work

Church activities are mainly focused on divine services and pastoral care of the membership. In addition, the New Apostolic Church engages in charitable activities within the bounds of its limited resources. If, in individual cases, help is urgently required, it is given directly and according to the need.

Liturgy

The liturgy of the New Apostolic Church was originally consistent with the liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

, which contained strong elements of the Roman Catholic and Anglican rite
Rite
A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:* rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, baptism, or graduation....

. This lasted until 1885, when emphasis of the divine services
Church service
In Christianity, a church service is a term used to describe a formalized period of communal worship, often but not exclusively occurring on Sunday, or Saturday in the case of those churches practicing seventh-day Sabbatarianism. The church service is the gathering together of Christians to be...

 shifted towards the liturgy of the word under the influence of Dutch Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

. Today, only a few aspects of the Catholic Apostolic tradition remain in the New Apostolic liturgy. The Holy Communion was originally commemorated only on Sunday and ecclesiastical holidays, but in 1998 this changed to include divine services during the rest of the week.

The Church does not use its own publications during services and members are discouraged from bringing their Bible, as they could be distracted from the sermons. Internal circulars and documents explaining the church's guidelines, which come from the Chief Apostle and are considered to have the same authority as the Biblical epistles, are supposed to provide the correct meanings of the Bible. They are not available to ordinary members, only to elders. According to religious anthropologist Thomas Kirsch, elders are seen as the "source of denominational knowledge", and members are connected to their religion's headquarters "through chains of referentiality in the form of textual quotations".

The remission of sins (absolution
Absolution
Absolution is a traditional theological term for the forgiveness experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This concept is found in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Anglican churches, and most Lutheran churches....

) is conducted in every single divine service, in the name of Jesus, by an apostle or by a lower minister under order of the apostle. Mistakenly, many New Apostolic Christians assume that absolution belongs to the sacrament of Holy Communion or is even a sacrament on its own. Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

 Leber
Wilhelm Leber
Wilhelm Leber is a German mathematician and minister in the New Apostolic Church.-Life:Wilhelm Leber was born in Herford in Westphalia. In 1975 he earned his doctorate in mathematics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main with a dissertation entitled Konvergenzbegriffe für...

 clearly stated in 2009 that this special mission of absolution is bound to the apostle ministry, but not that other Christians or human beings would have no access to God's forgiveness. The forgiveness of sins, with or without absolution, is eventually a sovereign decision of God himself.

This is the outline of a New Apostolic divine service:
  • Before the divine service:
    • Musical contributions are played (e.g. organ or instrumental music, choral singing)
    • Announcements may be read to the congregation by a minister
    • Brief silence for inner preparation of each participant
    • The participants begin to sing the Opening Hymn. Meanwhile, the ministers leave the vestry and enter the church hall, heading towards the altar. The officiant leading that particular divine service stands behind the altar

  • During the divine service:
    • Free prayer by the officiant
    • The officiant reads out the biblical word for the sermon
    • Choir, musicians or the participants sing
    • Sermon of the officiant
    • Further musical contribution
    • Other ministers chosen by the officiant preach

  • Celebration of Holy Communion:
    • The Lord's Prayer
      Lord's Prayer
      The Lord's Prayer is a central prayer in Christianity. In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, it appears in two forms: in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the discourse on ostentation in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Gospel of Luke, which records Jesus being approached by "one of his...

       is prayed by all participants
    • Absolution – forgiveness of sins by officiant
    • Officiant's constituted prayer of intercession
    • The officiant consecrates the wafer (hosts consisting of bread and wine) and gives them to the ministers
      • possibly afterwards:
        • Holy Baptism with water
        • Holy Sealing
        • Adoption (of a baptised Christian)
        • Confirmation (Act of blessing – usually on Easter Day or Palm Sunday)

    • The ministers give the hosts to the participants, while the sitting ones are singing the Communion Hymn. Further Hymn or choral singing possibly afterwards
    • In divine services of apostles only: Giving Holy Communion to chosen ministers assistant for the departed.
      • Acts of blessing possibly afterwards (e.g. marriage ceremony, wedding anniverary, ordination or retirement of a minister)

  • Close:
    • Prayer of thanks by the officiant
    • Benediction and the participants sing the Threefold Amen
    • Possible administrative announcements with regard to deadlines by a minister
    • Musical contribution

Sermon

The New Apostolic ministers preach without a manuscript. They prepare themselves for the sermon with the small Divine Service Guide publication released monthly by the church administration. The Guide was reformatted in December 2007 to give the officiant a structured introduction to the subject matter along with background knowledge about the biblical word
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, historical knowledge
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, cross-references, additional sources and so on. The contents of one topic may be spread across several divine services within a month so that each divine service can cover a subtopic and build upon the main topic, in order to teach and guide the listeners better.

A theological
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 education is not necessary to hold a New Apostolic ministry. Continuing the tradition of Apostle Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 is believed to act through the ministers during the sermon, but the Church does not consider the ministers to be infallible. One criticism has been that ministers under stress preach habitual content and verbiage between sermons. Also, ministers with insufficient instruction in New Apostolic theology and doctrines have accidentally preached false teachings, leading to misunderstandings. The Church has counteracted this with numerous seminars, and it requests that ministers of each congregation coordinate their sermon topics together.

Attendance

Anywhere from 20 to 100% of the officially registered members of the Church attend the divine services
Church service
In Christianity, a church service is a term used to describe a formalized period of communal worship, often but not exclusively occurring on Sunday, or Saturday in the case of those churches practicing seventh-day Sabbatarianism. The church service is the gathering together of Christians to be...

 regularly. While attendance statistics in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 are declining, in Eastern and Western Europe, South America and Africa attendance numbers are relatively high. Regular participants frequently engage in church life and stand out due to their feelings of togetherness. A particular care exists for children, youth, and seniors. The Church culture tends towards formal dress and appearance, although as in other denominations this has lost significance over time.

Church music

The choir
Choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 of each congregation meets for regular choir rehearsal whenever possible, as do the various orchestras and instrumental groups. Music is promoted to a great extent in the New Apostolic Church.

The cultural life of the NAC has continued to develop, just as it has opened to the public. In addition to traditional church choirs, which are sometimes known among other denominations due to their quality, there are progressive music groups and ensembles which also perform publicly. Musical works of the nineteenth century or later are an essential part of the church's music literature.

Portions of the New Apostolic music literature have been revised and supplemented by literature from other Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 churches. Most of the hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

s in the New Apostolic songbook are also sung in the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 or Protestant Churches. A new songbook, which replaced the one from 1925, has been used since Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

 2005 in the Germanic countries and since September 2008 in the Anglophone
English-speaking world
The English-speaking world consists of those countries or regions that use the English language to one degree or another. For more information, please see:Lists:* List of countries by English-speaking population...

 countries.

Fellowship

The church and delegates of other denominations regard the communal fellowship of the New Apostolic Christians as one of their biggest strengths. `We stick together. We help each other, we are on first-name terms with each other, we all know each other. If one of us builds a garage, we muck in. We are a little family.` says Andreas Fincke, former religious scholar of the Protestant Church of Berlin. Many New Apostolic Christians have deep friendships within their congregation or district.

Emblem

The emblem of the church portrays a white Latin cross, hovering above stylised waves on blue background. The sun rises at the horizon of those waves, symbolised by 10 rays. There is no definite interpretation of its meaning. According to Peter Johanning, spokesman of the church, the various elements can be interpreted as Crucifixion of Jesus Christ (cross), Holy Baptism (water) and as Holy Sealing
Baptism with the Holy Spirit
Baptism with the Holy Spirit in Christian theology is a term describing baptism in or with the Spirit of God...

 (sun), referring to the three sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s of the church. Sunrise or sunset in the emblem could also be regarded as the immediate Second Coming of Christ. The first official emblem was created by Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

 Schmidt in 1968 and can still be found on many church buildings. It was changed to a more modern appearance by Chief Apostle Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr was the seventh Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church from 22 May 1988 to 15 May 2005.-Life:...

 in 1995.

Organization

As was the case with the Early Christian Church, the church ministers have no theological training. In addition to their family, professional and social obligations, they perform their pastoral duties in an honorary capacity. One of their most important duties is to give pastoral care
Pastoral care
Pastoral care is the ministry of care and counseling provided by pastors, chaplains and other religious leaders to members of their church or congregation, or to persons of all faiths and none within institutional settings. This can range anywhere from home visitation to formal counseling provided...

 to the believers assigned to them.

The NAC does not perform ordination of women
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

. Regardless, many women teach in the Sunday Pre-School, Sunday School
Sunday school
Sunday school is the generic name for many different types of religious education pursued on Sundays by various denominations.-England:The first Sunday school may have been opened in 1751 in St. Mary's Church, Nottingham. Another early start was made by Hannah Ball, a native of High Wycombe in...

 and Confirmation School, provide other religious education
Religious education
In secular usage, religious education is the teaching of a particular religion and its varied aspects —its beliefs, doctrines, rituals, customs, rites, and personal roles...

 and hold leading positions in administrative duties and in music. Some congregations and districts have women who have a similar role to a deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

. At the end of his term, Chief Apostle Richard Fehr said that he considered the potential ordination of women as deaconesses, and the apostles are still considering the issue.

To become a minister, a male member of a congregation must accept an offer of ordination from a senior minister. It is the desire of the Church for these candidates to be elected with the assistance of prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

. This happens with the higher ministers, although ministries like priests or deacons are given to those with adequate circumstances (time, job, etc.). If the candidate accepts, an apostle will ordain him during a divine service. Apostles and also bishops, if possible, are ordained by the Chief Apostle.

The congregations are the centre of religious life. They are in the care of Shepherds, Evangelists or Priests commissioned by the Apostles. The Rector
Rector
The word rector has a number of different meanings; it is widely used to refer to an academic, religious or political administrator...

s of the congregations are assisted by Priests, and Deacons.

If a minister spreads teachings which are clearly against New Apostolic doctrines or canonical
Canonical
Canonical is an adjective derived from canon. Canon comes from the greek word κανών kanon, "rule" or "measuring stick" , and is used in various meanings....

 Christian interpretation of the bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 he may be suspended temporarily, or be released from his ministry. A minister may also ask for time off or resign from his ministry voluntarily.

Political neutrality:

The New Apostolic Church abstains from all political statements. It expects its members to fulfill the laws and the civil obligations of their countries as long as divine laws are not transgressed. The church attaches importance to open and trusting relations with governments, authorities and the general public. New Apostolic Christians are free to engage in public life.

Hierarchy

The ministries in the NAC are hierarchical. The highest minister present in a congregation conducts the service. The different ministries are:

Apostles:
Chief Apostle : The Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

 is the head of the church. His position is equivalent to the one Apostle Peter had 2,000 years ago in the circle of the Apostles. Traditionally only the Chief Apostle appoints new apostles although at times of necessity, such as during World War II, he can commission an apostle to ordain other apostles. The Chief Apostle is only the head of the church here on earth; Jesus Christ is the head of all souls. Wilhelm Leber
Wilhelm Leber
Wilhelm Leber is a German mathematician and minister in the New Apostolic Church.-Life:Wilhelm Leber was born in Herford in Westphalia. In 1975 he earned his doctorate in mathematics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main with a dissertation entitled Konvergenzbegriffe für...

 is the current Chief Apostle.
District Apostles : Those working closest to the Chief Apostle are the District Apostles. They are the heads of the different regional churches and are assisted by other Apostles. Together with the Chief Apostle, they provide global unity in church doctrine and in pastoral care. District Apostles can serve Holy Communion to the departed, as well as baptise and seal the departed.
Apostles : The apostle ministry is a very important ministry in the NAC. Only apostles can carry out the gift of the Holy Spirit and ordain new ministries. Presently there are 360 or more working apostles worldwide. Apostles can also assist their District Apostle in the commission of District Apostle Helper. District Apostle Helpers can serve Holy Communion to the departed, as well as baptise and seal the departed.


Priests:
The different priestly ministries work in the local congregations and have responsibility for the direct spiritual care of the congregations. Priestly ministries can carry out Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. The ministries that are considered priestly are as follows:
Bishops : A bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

 works in several church districts, often directly supporting the apostle working in his district.
District Elders : District Elders are mostly leaders of a regional church district. Some districts are too small to warrant this ministry.
District Evangelists : District Evangelists support the District Elders.
Shepherds : A shepherd
Pastoral
The adjective pastoral refers to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life in an...

 works locally, usually leading a large congregation.
Evangelists : An evangelist
Evangelism
Evangelism refers to the practice of relaying information about a particular set of beliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. The term is often used in reference to Christianity....

 works locally, leading a congregation. The evangelist ministry is charged with testimony of the faith. They are usually for newly built congregations and are responsible for testifying the faith to non-members and members alike.
Priests : Priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

s have direct responsibility for the spiritual care of the members. Several priests can belong to one congregation, depending on the local need. Priests, or higher ministries, can be commissioned to care for a congregation as the Rector. Priests conduct services unless a higher ministry is present. Priests are often switched around to conduct divine service in nearby congregations.


Deacons:
Deacons : The deacon ministry is a local ministry. A Deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

 generally works in his home congregation to support the priests. If a priest is unavailable, a Deacon will hold a divine service without the act of communion. Deacons are also allowed to participate in a service along with the priests.

Previously, there was a Sub-Deacon ministry. However, over time, the responsibilities of Deacons and Sub-Deacons began to overlap. After a District Apostles Meeting, it was decided that, as of 1 January 2002, no more Sub-Deacons would be ordained.

Structure

The international office of the New Apostolic Church is located in Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

, Switzerland, and is the seat of the New Apostolic Church International Apostle Unity (NAKI). The members of NAKI are the Chief Apostle, the District Apostles and the Apostles and the worldwide church is led from there. The church is divided into several regional churches (districts), covering entire countries or continents. Depending on national laws, the District Apostles are the heads of the regional churches (often incorporated) and have sole fiscal authority for their district. The NAC is financed by voluntary gifts from the church members and does not collect taxes. Money received is used for building maintenance, social aid and aid for the developing countries. The church is politically neutral and expects its members to comply with local laws.

The Chief Apostle and the District Apostles meet regularly to consult each other on church matters of international significance. Every three years all Apostles gather for an international general assembly.

Finances

The international church is financed by allocations from District Apostle areas, and arranges for financially weak areas to receive aid from financially strong ones. The lion's share of earnings are used for construction and maintenance of church buildings, which are maintained by District Apostle areas. A considerable part of the budget is also spent on missionary work. The church aims to manage its affairs with as little administration as possible. All financial records are publicly available upon request and are published on church websites and in Our Family, the official magazine of the Church. Bookkeeping and accounting requirements are largely handled by independent Certified Public Accountants.

Pastoral and organisational duties in the congregations are carried out in an honorary capacity. All acts and blessings performed by the Church, e.g. baptisms, wedding ceremonies or funeral services are carried out free of charge. Generally Bishops and Apostles are the only ministers employed full-time by the church with their salary coming from offerings and authorised by accountants.

Church Institutions

In keeping with the needs of the congregations, there are a great many other services provided. It is important for church activities to cater to the needs of children (Sunday Pre-school, Sunday School and religious instruction), youth (youth evenings, youth services, youth events) and senior citizens (senior events). Thus, fellowship is cultivated and the bonds between members of the Church strengthened.

Publisher

Friedrich Bischoff, son of Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

 Johann Gottfried Bischoff, founded the Friedrich Bischoff Verlag Gmbh in the 1930s. The company is located in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and attached to NAC Southern Germany. Considered a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 publisher, it publishes three church-internal magazines for the NAC:

Our Family has an international circulation of 350,000 copies. It is released twice a month in German, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese and Indonesian and once a month in another 21 languages. The content includes accounts of the Chief Apostle's divine services or travelogues, religious or historical background knowledge, stories about different congregations and advertisements. Our Family has had a German web presence since 2008.

We Children has an international total circulation of 18,000 and is released twice a month in German, English, French, Russian, Portuguese and Dutch. It covers topics about "Christians and the Bible". The magazine contains children's magazine material such as reading texts, pictures to colour, handicrafts instructions, brainteasers and public activities.

Spirit is a magazine particularly for young New Apostolic Christians. Current issues are discussed and examined for religious and critical purposes. The magazine also publishes many accounts of other denominations. It has a German web presence.

Children

There are many opportunities for children within the Church. They usually pass through several stages of education. In Sunday Pre-School (5 and younger) and Sunday School (6–10 years old) children are introduced to the general Christian faith and Bible stories. After this, children continue to Religious Education, which covers Christian and denominational history. Finally, children attend the Confirmation School, which explains New Apostolic belief in detail. A 14 or 15 year old youth can be confirmed with the blessing of the Church. During these years, children are provided with many educational materials including a bible. There are many children's activities besides Church education, one of the better examples being the famous Cape Town Children's Choir.

Children celebrate the Holy Communion just as adults do. However, in some congregations appointed "priests for children" give them the sacred wafer in a separate room after a little explanation of the process.

Youth

The New Apostolic Church conducts annual national youth days with a special divine service. Stadiums, conference halls or similar venues are used for these events. Youth days are usually split into two main parts. A divine service is held for the youth in the morning by the District Apostle or Chief Apostle followed by a common lunch and afternoon program. There are choirs, orchestra or bands playing music. Religious issues are presented in the form of movies, theatre pieces or workshops. Many organisers are making heavier use of youth opinions and suggestions about church matters.

A special youth day for the whole of Europe, European Youth Day 2009, took place in May 2009 in the LTU Arena
LTU Arena
Esprit Arena is a multi-functional football stadium in Düsseldorf, Germany. The stadium holds 54,600 and has a closable roof. The special heating system allows comfortable events at the height of winter.- History :...

 in Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf is the capital city of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and centre of the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.Düsseldorf is an important international business and financial centre and renowned for its fashion and trade fairs. Located centrally within the European Megalopolis, the...

, Germany.

Various youth activities take place within each district, namely monthly divine services, local or regional youth hours, choir rehearsal, sporting events and leisure activities. Many youth organise their own activity groups for photography, journalism, ecumenism, etc. There are also many youth websites for the New Apostolic Church.

Host Bakery

The main bakery is located in Bielefeld
Bielefeld
Bielefeld is an independent city in the Ostwestfalen-Lippe Region in the north-east of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With a population of 323,000, it is also the most populous city in the Regierungsbezirk Detmold...

, Germany. One host is produced every 1.5 seconds, thus almost 130,000 hosts can be produced per day. In 2007, 230 million hosts were delivered to 50 countries in Europe, the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 and a few in Asia and Africa. The bakery was founded in 1925 by a New Apostolic master baker
Baker
A baker is someone who bakes and sells bread, Cakes and similar foods may also be produced, as the traditional boundaries between what is produced by a baker as opposed to a pastry chef have blurred in recent decades...

 named Pflug from Herne, Germany
Herne, Germany
Herne is a city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is located in the Ruhr area directly between the cities of Bochum and Gelsenkirchen.- History :Like most other cities in the region Herne was a tiny village until the 19th century...

.

Chief Apostle Niehaus had the first hosts produced for New Apostolic Christians at the front lines during World War I. Before this, Holy Communion had been celebrated according to the Catholic Apostolic
Catholic Apostolic Church
The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

 custom, with a piece of bread and a draught from a special wine jar.

A further host bakery was built in Cape Town
Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...

, South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

 in 2003. It supplies the southern states in Africa with hosts, producing 240,000 of them per day.

Charitable work

Charitable and social work is growing in significance, including donations of food, medicine and clothing. Ministers hand on many donations. In poor countries and regions, Kindergartens, schools, orphanage
Orphanage
An orphanage is a residential institution devoted to the care of orphans – children whose parents are deceased or otherwise unable or unwilling to care for them...

s, hospitals, retirement homes and clinics receive financial support. One such example is the "Amazing Grace" children's homes in South Africa. The church also supports interdenominational missionary and charitable organisations. The head office of NAK-karitativ, association for relief projects of the church, is located in Dortmund
Dortmund
Dortmund is a city in Germany. It is located in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia, in the Ruhr area. Its population of 585,045 makes it the 7th largest city in Germany and the 34th largest in the European Union....

, Germany. It is officially valued as an exemplary social organization.

Regenbogen-NAK

An initiative group called Regenbogen-NAK (Rainbow-NAC in English) was founded in 1999 by homosexual and transsexual believers of the NAC. The main issues are the particular problems which affect them in public and in the church. The committee for special affairs of the church holds a dialog with the German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 and Swiss representatives.
This does not mean that this group forms part of the NAC.

nacworld

"nacworld" is the social networking website of the New Apostolic Church International, and enables Christians from all over the world to come into contact. It is geared towards members of the New Apostolic Church. Members of other churches or religious communities are also welcome to join, and the site is open to all who are interested. nacworld can be used in German, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Dutch. An nacworld account is free of charge. There are no premium features, and nacworld has no income from advertising or sponsorship.

Historical development

Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

 Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr
Richard Fehr was the seventh Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church from 22 May 1988 to 15 May 2005.-Life:...

 (1988–2005) founded the "Ecumenism Project Group" in 1999 to represent the Church among other Christian denominations, establish contacts with other denominations and churches and involve the NAC in common activities and affairs. The church administration may consider changing some rather exclusive ecumenical
Ecumenism
Ecumenism or oecumenism mainly refers to initiatives aimed at greater Christian unity or cooperation. It is used predominantly by and with reference to Christian denominations and Christian Churches separated by doctrine, history, and practice...

 doctrines, but they also have to maintain their own profile.

In 1963, the World Council of Churches
World Council of Churches
The World Council of Churches is a worldwide fellowship of 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service. It is a Christian ecumenical organization that is based in the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva, Switzerland...

 asked Chief Apostle Schmidt to send some deputies to a session in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, Switzerland. He declined the offer because the ecumenical movement of that time was not politically neutral and also because he feared the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 would have too much control. Later on, he explained publicly that participating in ecumenism would have triggered conflicts and criticism
Criticism
Criticism is the judgement of the merits and faults of the work or actions of an individual or group by another . To criticize does not necessarily imply to find fault, but the word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection against prejudice, or a disapproval.Another meaning of...

 between the church and larger denominations.

An interest in ecumenism only came about when Chief Apostle Hans Urwyler
Hans Urwyler
Hans Urwyler was the sixth Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church.- Life :...

 sought to contact other Apostolic Denominations. In 2000, Richard Fehr called an Apostolic Council which embraced discussion about common social and religious topics and interests. A general rapprochement between Apostolic denominations has been underway since 2005. This brought about some conflicts, but both sides want to continue and strive for reconciliation. All official "excommunications" of excluded members have now been cancelled.

In 1994 the church refused an ecumenical offer of Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen (English: Consortium of Christian Churches) with the justification that the ecumenical way of Christian unity would not be an appropriate way of religious life according to the sense and goals of Jesus Christ.

The recently founded "Ecumenism Project Group" has officially contacted other churches and has reached amicable relations with various congregations. The first dialogues were held in Southern Germany
Southern Germany
The term Southern Germany is used to describe a region in the south of Germany. There is no specific boundary to the region, but it usually includes all of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, and the southern part of Hesse...

, where the New Apostolic congregations in Memmingen
Memmingen
Memmingen is a town in the Bavarian administrative region of Swabia in Germany. It is the central economic, educational and administrative centre in the Danube-Iller region. To the west the town is flanked by the Iller, the river that marks the Baden-Württemberg border...

 and Aschaffenburg
Aschaffenburg
Aschaffenburg is a city in northwest Bavaria, Germany. The town of Aschaffenburg is not considered part of the district of Aschaffenburg, but is the administrative seat.Aschaffenburg is known as the Tor zum Spessart or "gate to the Spessart"...

 have joined the ecumenical institution Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen. The New Apostolic district Thun
Thun
Thun is a municipality in the administrative district of Thun in the canton of Bern in Switzerland with about 42,136 inhabitants , as of 1 January 2006....

, Switzerland is also a guest member. The leaders of this institution published a brochure about the New Apostolic Church in April 2008. The church has had discussions with various other churches, particularly with the Protestant Church, Methodists, Seventh-day Adventist Church
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

, Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. Although there are contacts and memberships in local communities there are no such on the regional or even national level in Germany where there is a strong opposition because of fundamental theological issues (services for the dead, exclusivity and nature of the church, the apostle ministry etc.).

Ecumenical efforts are also underway in the USA, Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. The NAC is regarded as one of the national churches in Argentina. The District Apostles Freund and Barnes had meetings with deputies of other churches, leading to good results. The District Apostle of the USA, Leonard Kolb, stated in an interview that New Apostolic Christians can learn a lot from other churches and that he will seek more ecumenical contacts.

Current standing

The New Apostolic Church is not currently a member of the World Council of Churches.

The New Apostolic Church allows all people, no matter their denomination, to participate in the Holy Communion. It also allows New Apostolic Christians to participate in the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 of another church. The New Apostolic Christians pray the New King James Version
New King James Version
The New King James Version is a modern translation of the Bible published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. The New Testament was published in 1979. The Psalms in 1980. The full Bible was published in 1982. It took a total of 7 years to complete...

 of the Our Father
Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer is a central prayer in Christianity. In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, it appears in two forms: in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the discourse on ostentation in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Gospel of Luke, which records Jesus being approached by "one of his...

, since Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

 2008. This is very similar to most other churches.

The New Apostolic baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 is recognised by Protestant churches and the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, because it is carried out in the name of the Triune God. Also the NAC recognizes every baptism which is carried out in the name of the Triune God and with water. This means that the NAC does not recognise baptism by Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

 or Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

. After noting this doctrinal change, Martin Baumann said the NAC seems to be becoming a free Church.

The Church does not attend ecumenical divine services because the church administration regard acts of blessing as "not sharable". But they regard prayers or greetings at the altar as possible (e.g. during a wedding). If a New Apostolic Christian marries another Christian in their church, the blessing of that church is fully recognised. The New Apostolic Church lends its buildings to other denominations and makes the buildings available for public events. They also try to sell unused churches to religious organisations. The New Apostolic Church is considered modern and progressive
Progressive Christianity
Progressive Christianity is the name given to a movement within contemporary Christianity characterized by willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity with a strong emphasis on social justice or care for the poor and the oppressed and environmental stewardship of the Earth...

 in comparison with other free churches or religious groups.

The New Apostolic Church believes in the Universal action of the Holy Spirit (Christian church), given the fact that elements of truth can be found in other Christian churches.

On 24 October 2005 Chief Apostle Leber encouraged ministers to engage in ecumenism, which means approaching one another and talking together.

Membership

Current membership

In 2006, the New Apostolic Church claimed to have about 10.8 million members worldwide, thus being by far the largest Catholic Apostolic movement. The church's origins are in Europe, where about 519,000 New Apostolic Christians live. Almost 385,000 believers live in the origin country Germany and more than 5,200 in Austria. The church established itself in Switzerland in 1895 by founding the community of Zurich-Hauttingen. In 2009, Switzerland had 35,000 New Apostolic Church members in 218 communities. Membership in Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 is slightly decreasing due to obsolescence and emigration, whereas in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 it is growing.

The largest number of New Apostolic Christians live in Africa. Nearly 3 million are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and roughly 12% of the inhabitants of Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 are New Apostolic. The Church also maintains high membership in Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

, Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Tanzania
Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

, Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

, Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

.

Nearly 1.5 million members live in Asia. The New Apostolic faith initially was brought by European emigrants to Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, where 20,000 believers live today. From the beginning of the 1970s, missionaries of the Church spread their faith in other countries as well. Most Asian believers live in India (920,000) and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 (200,000). About 25,000 believers live in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, and 15,000 in Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

The New Apostolic Church in North America was built by German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 ministers in the 1870s who had emigrated to the United States or Canada. The church has grown in the United States, counting 35,000 members in the country in 1994. The church has grown from its beginnings, especially among the population of German immigrants.

Some German ministers emigrated to Southern Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 in the 1920s, where they evangelised to other European emigrants. Most of the more than 200,000 believers in Argentina today are a result of this. There are 60,000 believers living in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 and 35,000 in Peru
Peru
Peru , officially the Republic of Peru , is a country in western South America. It is bordered on the north by Ecuador and Colombia, on the east by Brazil, on the southeast by Bolivia, on the south by Chile, and on the west by the Pacific Ocean....

.

There are 360 apostles of the church more than the half living in Africa.
  • Out of 11,239,935 believers...:
    • 77.9% live in Africa.
    • 12.8% live in Asia.
    • 4.4% live in Europe.
    • 3.6% live in South America.
    • 0.9% live in Australia and Oceania
      Oceania
      Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

      .
    • 0.4% live in North America.

  • Membership in Anglophone countries:
    • Great Britain, 2,722 (2005)
    • USA, 37,514 (2005)
    • Canada, 13,315 (2007)
    • Australia, more than 100,000 (2008)
    • South Africa
      South Africa
      The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

      , 440,000 (2008)

Chronology of worldwide membership

There are the numbers of believers between 1960–2007:
Year Worldwide Africa America Asia Australia Europe
1960 524,341 97,370 46,047 3,443 1,199 376,282
1970 744,194 168,303 85,861 6,569 1,870 481,591
1980 1,758,525 519,595 146,354 592,840 27,841 471,895
1990 5,936,610 3,193,905 298,104 1,897,694 59,923 486,984
2000 9,913,250 7,375,139 403,892 1,517,030 87,040 530,149
2001 10,117,444 7,652,065 412,041 1,435,360 89,144 525,163
2002 10,387,378 7,912,428 419,533 1,441,545 91,118 522,754
2003 10,624,911 8,132,225 429,372 1,449,210 92,827 521,227
2004 10,811,754 8,308,006 438,789 1,451,237 94,615 519,107
2007 11,239,935 8,758,430 461,233 1,436,190 103,567 480,515*


(*)The decrease of membership in Europe 2007 refers to a revision of the NAC computer network's (IAKOP) numbers.

Sociological profile

According to a survey led in 2008 by Namini and Murken, the high amount (43%) of young NAC members under 15 who had lost their fathers could be explained by the theology of the father and the figure of the Chief Apostle
Chief Apostle
The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

 at the top of the hierarchy.

Controversies

The NAC was very introverted until recently and has had strict guidelines, so recently it has had to face sharp criticism. Many aspects of this criticism have been shown, through multiple professional assessments, to derive from the "ancient" period, i.e. from the 1960s to the 1990s. The opening process of ecumenism has led the church to change many doctrines and guidelines, some drastically, making the church look more modern today in comparison to other churches.

Former criticism

By the 1990s, the church was fighting the following controversies which made them look like a sect in public.

Resting upon the statement that only direct discipleship leads to eternal life, the Primitive Church established a system of obedience toward Jesus' apostles just after Jesus' death. The strict thought of obedience toward the apostle ministry is intended to continue this tradition. The social instruction strictly to obey a predecessor was so distinct that members had to obtain information from their "leaders". That information bound them, if only unconsciously, so that the ministers controlled the lives of many members, telling them that their information matched God's will.

A new generation of free thinkers appeared in Europe in the 1950s, but that development passed by the church. This was partly because the church publicly withdraw into a hedgehog-like defensive position through fear of attacks from other churches, and thus social change became impossible. That dictatorial hierarchy remained until the 1980s and the ecumenical opening. The linking of obedience in faith to participation in the Second Coming of Christ was often strongly criticised.

From the beginning of the 20th century until the ecumenical opening under Chief Apostle Hans Urwyler, some common prohibitions from ministers became known internally as "rules" e.g.: Having a television; Going to discos, cinemas or sporting events; Growing a beard or long hair for men; Women wearing jeans or shorts during church attendance; Making a journey outside the church or marrying someone from outside the church, from "the World". Ministers often threatened members that if they did not follow these rules they would not get to participate in the Second Coming of Christ. Although the majority ignored those rules from the beginning, it resulted in psychological problems for others even under Chief Apostle Richard Fehr.

Numerous former members, especially in Germany, criticised the Church for confining women to roles such as church cleaning, parental tasks such as Sunday school, and choir participation. Recently, New Apostolic woman have been granted much greater importance. Women in several congregations have partly taken over the tasks of deacons or administrators. Although women cannot be ordained ministers, this point of criticism is no longer topical. Some critics charge that there were ministers who held out the prospect of divine blessing to donors, while threatening to deny blessing to those who did not donate.

However, the death of Chief Apostle Bischoff triggered a slow but continual change, which brought, among other things, the term "self-reliance" – every single believer is personally responsible for the salvation of his soul – by Chief Apostle Urwyler in 1986. This has led to contacts with other churches, especially religious groups who split from NAC because of the "Botschaft". The spectrum has broadened in the last ten years and made it apparent there is a conservative wing and a liberal wing among the church members.

The French Commission on Cults registered the New Apostolic Church as a cult
Cult
The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

 in its reports in 1995 and 1999 (see Groups referred to as cults in government documents). In 1997, the Belgian parliamentary commission established a list of 189 movements, including the New Apostolic Church. In its report of 2001, the Mission Interministérielle de Lutte contre les Sectes
MIVILUDES
MIVILUDES , a French government agency, has the task of:* observing and analyzing movements perceived as constituting a threat to public order or that violate French law*...

 did not agree with the official recognition of the New Apostolic Church in 1984 in New-Caledonia.
Historical events

Many former members criticise the behaviour of the church at the time of the "Botschaft" as the most controversial subject in New Apostolic history. Furthermore, the official political attitude toward the regimes of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and in the German Democratic Republic
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 (GDR) are heavily questioned, which seems to be a result of ignorance. Independent historians from various Apostolic churches investigated these topics, providing reliable and objective results.
Criticism from other churches

The Protestant and Roman Catholic churches criticise the following doctrinal points, which have not yet been rejected: the assertion that the New Apostolic apostle ministry corresponds with that of the Primitive Church, and the doctrine that genuine kinship to God can only be received by the New Apostolic apostle ministry.

The beliefs about the dead also cause trouble, but the NAC has a chance to explain that via ecumenical approaches. Another criticism is that the hierarchy of the church has no theological education. Religious scholar Georg Schmid considers the NAC sermons as monotone with little depth and virtually no exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

 or theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

.

The important role of the Chief Apostle, frequently identified with Christ, is often criticised by mainstream Christianity. For example, in a hymnal published by the Church in 1933, 106 songs out of 200 were devoted to the apostle.
Handling of criticism

Siegfried Dannwolf, former member from Germany, describes in his book Gottes verlorene Kinder how he was defamed with lies and misrepresentations in his congregation after he left the church. "Even my wife didn't believe me anymore. That figures, says Dannwolf. The problem goes beyond the family, marriages break up. I haven't had any contact with my parents for years. Further possible mental consecutive symptoms of membership in the NAC and individual difficulties of quitting are described by Olaf Stoffel in his book Angeklagt.

Such negative experiences with its ministers are lamentable exceptions for the New Apostolic Church. "Aside from the fact that such cases occur in every church, in the NAC they are relatively seldom when faced with its large membership", said a commissioner of the Protestant Church in Germany.

"It is quite a difference, whether a tree withers at the roots and thus is the entire tree lost, or whether some branches which have withered break away from the tree", commented Chief Apostle Schmidt the importance of single critics who have left the church.

This is also confirmed by the cult commissioner of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Freiburg, Albert Lampe. He sees no comparison with dangerous groups such as Scientology
Scientology
Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science fiction and fantasy author L. Ron Hubbard , starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics...

, because "for this, there are too many New Apostolic Christians leading a normal life and not standing in absolute dependence".

Chief Apostle Leber explained at a news conference, what adjustments he would undertake and how he would take criticism, "In the past individual persons or groups have spread a vehement temper against the church. The peak of that criticism of former members was over long ago. (...) But we have learned as well to be able to take criticism. This must be learned, this is a process as well". On the point "readiness to engage in dialogue" he said, "If there are factual requests, I will always espouse that answers are given. For this, I will always be on hand. But if frontiers of fair contact were trespassed or polemical arguments appear, a continuation of the dialogue would make no sense then".

Splinter groups

After Apostle Preuss' death in 1878, a dispute over succession caused a separation between the majority of Hamburg's congregation with Prophet Heinrich Geyer and Apostle Johannn Friedrich Gueldner on one side (still under the name Allgemeine christliche apostolische Mission) and the Apostles Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff, Eduard Wichmann, and Fritz Krebs on the other.

The second schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 occurred with the HAZK in 1897 in the Netherlands due to the introduction of the office of the Chief Apostle. by The group following the Chief Apostle adopted the name Hersteld Apostolische Zendinggemeente in de Eenheid der Apostelen (HAZEA) after the schism of 1897 and continued to use it until the 1960s.

Niemeyer and later Carl Georg Klibbe began to criticize the worshipping of Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus' person, resulting in Niehaus' announcement of Wilhelm Schlaphoff as Klibbe's replacement in 1913. Another point of view says this was a misunderstanding. The ship on which Klibbe was believed to be traveling, after a conference of apostles, sank. He was believed to have drowned, although he had actually chosen another ship. Nevertheless, Schlaphoff declined to resign his Apostle Ministry

After his exclusion, Klibbe went on working under the name New Apostolic Church. In 1926, an agreement was reached between the followers of Klibbe and Schlaphoff. As part of the settlement, Klibbe renamed the church he had founded in 1889 as Old Apostolic Church
Old Apostolic Church
The Old Apostolic Church is a Christian religious community, with historical roots in the Catholic Apostolic Church and the New Apostolic Church...

 of Africa. According to court papers filed, the Klibbe group became independent from the New Apostolic Church in 1915. At the time of Klibbe's death in 1931 the Old Apostolic Church had more than 1 million adherents.

On 10 October 1920 Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus appointed Apostle J. G. Bischoff as Chief Apostle Helper and on 14 December 1924 he assigned Bischoff to succeed him, even though the Saxon Apostle Carl August Brueckner had already been declared as his successor. After 1914, Niehaus was led more and more by emotions, dreams and visions. Brueckner became the focus for all those who criticised the spiritual views of the Chief Apostle and the worshipping of his person. The different opinions led to the exclusion of Apostle Brueckner and several thousand believers in 1921. The excluded founded the Reformiert-Apostolischer Gemeindebund. A further schism occurred when the Australian Apostle Hermann Niemeyer was excluded from the church on his way home after a conference of apostles. Like Brueckner, he had opposed the claim to power of the Chief Apostle. After his return he founded the Apostolic Church of Queensland
Apostolic Church of Queensland
The Apostolic Church of Queensland is an Australian church which has its roots in the restoration movement of the Catholic Apostolic Church of the early 19th century. It was founded 1883 in Queensland, Australia by H. F...

. As a reaction to these crisis-hit times, Niehaus had all of the Apostles cast a vote of confidence in him and gathered them in his own association, the Apostelkollegium der Neuapostolischen Gemeinden Deutschland.

Other splits of the New Apostolic Church occurred in Switzerland Vereinigung Apostolischer Christen , South Africa (again) Apostle Unity and the Netherlands (again) Apostolische Geloofsgemeenschap in 1954, and in West-Germany Apostolische Gemeinschaft and Apostolische Gemeinde des Saarlandes in 1955 due to a 1951 teaching of the then-Chief Apostle Johann Gottfried Bischoff. This teaching presumed that he would not die before Jesus Christ returned to take the predestined into his kingdom (First Resurrection). In 1954 this teaching, called "The Botschaft", became an official dogma
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers...

. Those ministers, especially the apostles who declined to preach this, even after several interlocutions, lost their offices and were excluded from the New Apostolic Church. Chief Apostle Bischoff died in 1960 without his prophecy being fulfilled. but there was no restoration of the excommunicated ministers. The various communities and congregations like the Apostolic Church of Queensland
Apostolic Church of Queensland
The Apostolic Church of Queensland is an Australian church which has its roots in the restoration movement of the Catholic Apostolic Church of the early 19th century. It was founded 1883 in Queensland, Australia by H. F...

 or the Apostolic Church of South Africa - Apostle Unity
Apostolic Church of South Africa - Apostle Unity
The Apostolic Church is the South African branch of the United Apostolic Church. It has roots in the Catholic Apostolic Church in the early 19th century. It was founded in 1955 as a schism of the New Apostolic Church...

 which evolved out of these conflicts in different countries merged in 1956 as the "United Apostolic Church
United Apostolic Church
The member churches of the United Apostolic Church are independent communities in the tradition of the catholic-apostolic revival movement which started at the beginning of the 19th century in England and Scotland....

".

Another, earlier, split was the break with the Apostelamt Juda in 1902, from which the Apostelamt Jesu Christi emerged.

On May 1, 2005 a document of the first steps of reconciliation was signed by the Swiss New Apostolic Church and the United Apostolic Church
United Apostolic Church
The member churches of the United Apostolic Church are independent communities in the tradition of the catholic-apostolic revival movement which started at the beginning of the 19th century in England and Scotland....

 in Switzerland (Vereinigung Apostolischer Christen).

Publications by NAC

  • New Acts of the Apostles NAKI Verlag Friedrich Bischoff Frankfort am Main 1985
  • History of the New Apostolic Church G. Rockenfelder, editor Verlag Friedrich Bischoff Frankfort am Main 1970
  • Questions and Answers concerning the New Apostolic Faith NAKI Verlag Friedrich Bischoff Frankfort am Main [ed unknown]
  • History of the Kingdom of God v. I & v. II Apostles College of the New Apostolic Church, Verlag Friedrich Bischoff Frankfort am Main 1971 (vI) 1973 (vII)

See also

  • Twelve Apostles
  • Chief Apostle
    Chief Apostle
    The Chief Apostle is the highest minister in the New Apostolic Church, and has existed since 1896.-History:The term "Chief Apostle" was first used officially to describe Jesus Christ in the New Covenant Scriptures, Book of Hebrews, Chapter 3, verse 1, where he is also called the High Priest...

  • Religion in Germany
    Religion in Germany
    Christianity is the largest religion in Germany with 54,765,265 adherents as of the end of 2006, down to 51.5 million adherents as of 2008. The second largest religion is Islam with 3.3 million adherents followed by Buddhism and Judaism...

  • Apostolic Church of South Africa - Apostle Unity
    Apostolic Church of South Africa - Apostle Unity
    The Apostolic Church is the South African branch of the United Apostolic Church. It has roots in the Catholic Apostolic Church in the early 19th century. It was founded in 1955 as a schism of the New Apostolic Church...

  • United Apostolic Church
    United Apostolic Church
    The member churches of the United Apostolic Church are independent communities in the tradition of the catholic-apostolic revival movement which started at the beginning of the 19th century in England and Scotland....

  • Old Apostolic Church
    Old Apostolic Church
    The Old Apostolic Church is a Christian religious community, with historical roots in the Catholic Apostolic Church and the New Apostolic Church...

  • Catholic Apostolic Church
    Catholic Apostolic Church
    The Catholic Apostolic Church was a religious movement which originated in England around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. While often referred to as Irvingism, it was neither actually founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The Catholic Apostolic Church was organised in...

  • Apostolic Church of Queensland
    Apostolic Church of Queensland
    The Apostolic Church of Queensland is an Australian church which has its roots in the restoration movement of the Catholic Apostolic Church of the early 19th century. It was founded 1883 in Queensland, Australia by H. F...


Official New Apostolic Church sites


Unaffiliated sites

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