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
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...


The goal of their faith is the reconciliation of mankind with God and the union with Jesus Christ at his return. They want to spread and promote the Christian faith on the basis of the Holy Scripture
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...



Nine churches are members of the United Apostolic Church, which was founded in Düsseldorf, Germany in 1956:
  • 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...

    • United Apostolic Church (India)
    • United Apostolic Church (Philippines)
    • Unity Apostles Church (Kenya)
    • Unity Apostles Church (New Zealand)
  • 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...

  • Apostolische Gemeinschaft (Germany)
  • Gemeente van Apostolische Christenen (Netherlands)
  • Igreja Evangélica Apostólica (Brazil)
  • Union des Chrétiens Apostoliques (France)
  • Vereinigung Apostolischer Christen (Switzerland)

Since 1994 the Apostolische Gemeinschaft in Germany incorporates also the Reformiert-Apostolischer Gemeindebund of the former German Democratic Republic.

The United Apostolic Churches are currently led by ten apostles:
  • Apostle Groß, Knauth, Lieberth, Loose - Germany
  • Apostle Den Haan - Netherlands
  • Apostle Schaeffer - France
  • Apostle Baltisberger - Switzerland
  • Apostle Erasmus - South Africa
  • Apostle Flor and Dargusch - Australia

From 1 June 2007 on Ap. Schaeffer from France is also spiritually responsible for the German congregations in the Saarland, however they still belong to the German organisation. Small congregations in Sao Paolo, Brazil; Los Angeles, USA and Buenos Aires, Argentina do not exist any more. The Philippine congregations were founded and are administered by the Australian apostles. In London, Great Britain a new congregation of immigrated South Africans has been founded recently. After the sudden death of Apostle Vanathaian of India in 2005 these congregations were closed and the members were asked to join other Christian denominations. From 2010 on the Australian church took over the administrative structure and the remaining people and re-started the mission work. From Australia on also mission work is done in Pakistan, Japan and Canada.

The European member churches are very close in theological and organizational matters. There are more or less loose contacts as well as theological differences to the churches in Australia and South Africa.


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

One of the most important circles was that of the London banker and member of parliament Henry Drummond (1786-1860)
Henry Drummond (1786-1860)
Henry Drummond , English banker, politician and writer, best known as one of the founders of the Catholic Apostolic or Irvingite Church, was born at The Grange, near Northington, Hampshire....

. In 1826 he invited about 30 clergymen and laymen for a conference in Albury Park, in order to clear various interpretations of prophecies concerning the apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

 under the influence of prayer and Bible study. They also contacted faithful Christians in Scotland, where it was reported that people had experienced prophecy, speaking in tongues and miraculous healing. The focus of these revelations was the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

When some members of the Albury-circle were excommunicated from their churches, they gathered in new congregations which were later called 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...

. They believed in the imminence of 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 Christ, in preparation for which they resolved to re-establish the early-Church offices of apostles, prophets, etc. Besides enthusiasm, the new congregations looked for order, too. Through the prophecy of members, apostles were called forth and, after further callings, some men were sent to various ministries. The first "apostle" (J. B. Cardale) was called in 1832. He became the principal liturgist and "Pillar of Apostles". In 1833 Henry Drummond
Henry Drummond (1786-1860)
Henry Drummond , English banker, politician and writer, best known as one of the founders of the Catholic Apostolic or Irvingite Church, was born at The Grange, near Northington, Hampshire....

 became the second "apostles", and was later assigned responsibility for Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

. Within two years the church's prophets called forth 12 apostles, equivalent to the original 12 apostles 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....

. The full college of 12 held their first council in 1835. During 1837 and 1838, they undertook missionary journeys to mainland Europe, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and the USA.

The new apostles set up a liturgy for their congregations. Their first aim was not the foundation of new congregations but to fight for the unity of all denominations which form the one and only church. Because of excommunications from the established churches, however, new congregations were founded in several countries. In 1836 the apostles wrote a manifest, called the Testimonium, to all church and state leaders of the Christian countries.


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

. Parallel to the progress of the new apostolic denomination there occurred splittings throughout
the world on several occasions.

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

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

The main reason for the great divisions of the New Apostolic Church
New Apostolic Church
The New Apostolic Church is a chiliastic church, converted to Protestantism as a free church from the Catholic Apostolic Church. The church has existed since 1879 in Germany and since 1897 in the Netherlands...

in Switzerland 1954 and West-Germany 1955 was the new teaching in 1951 of the then-reigning Chief Apostle J.G. Bischoff. This teaching presumed that he would not die before Jesus Christ returns and takes the predestined into His kingdom (First Resurrection). In 1954 this teaching became an official dogma
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 offices and were excluded from the New Apostolic Church. In these times about 20.000 members left the church only in Germany; some were expressively excluded, while others left voluntarily. This was about 5-10% of the total NAC membership at this time. Not all of these people joined the UAC churches but lost faith completely or went to other churches. Chief Apostle Bischoff died in 1960, his 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...

 unfulfilled. There has been no rehabilitation of the excommunicated ministers to this day, although there were first steps of reconciliation in Switzerland in 2005.


In the 1950s and early 1960s the teaching and the belief was mainly that of the New Apostolic Church. Starting in the 1970s the member churches of the United Apostolic Church made important new orientations and reforms in structural and in theological questions, respectively concerning the question of church, sacraments and ministries. They tried returning back to the roots of the Catholic-Apostolic Church.

The first sort of catechism of 1956 was completely revised and in 1984 und 1991 a new catechism "Book of Faith" was edited in 2 editions. The parts concerning the sacraments have been updated in July 2005. Also the creed has been changed then again. From 1956 to 1984 a modified new-apostolic creed with 9 articles has been in use. Then it was shortened to six articles and actually the ecumenical version of the Apostles' Creed
Apostles' Creed
The Apostles' Creed , sometimes titled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, a creed or "symbol"...

 is in use, without any specific denominational amendments.

Nature of the Church

The members of the United Apostolic Church consider themselves as a part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Membership is acquired with baptism only and does not depend on the sealing anymore. Baptism of other churches is fully recognized as well as the apostolic baptism is normally recognized as it has been procured in the name of trinity. The European members of the church are highly involved in ecumenical cooperation and try to join ecumenical organisations and institutions locally and regionally.

Understanding of the Apostle's ministry

The word "apostolic" refers to the sending from Jesus Christ, as the word "apostle" comes from the Greek apóstolos, which means "one sent with a message." As one should not understand the word "Catholic" (universal) only in a denominational sense, so it is with the word "apostolic" (sent). Jesus Christ sent his disciples into the world to preach his gospel. "Apostolic" does not mean separation from other denominations, but correlation with the teaching of the apostles (see 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...

, Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...


The United Apostolic Church recogns the ministry of apostle as highest authority of responsibility and teaching. It is not considered as necessary for salvation. This unusual title in free churches does not intend any thinking of exclusivity but only describes a service ordained by Christ. It is not understood as only existing in the own church but potentially everywhere in the church of Christ even if this specific title is not used. All other ministries are supposed to be ordained by Christ directly and do not depend on the apostle's office. The general priesthood of all believers is becoming more and more popular. Besides the apostles there are 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...

s, elders, pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

s, evangelist
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....

s, 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 and 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...

s. In 2003 the European apostles decided on female ordination and in 2004 the first three female deacons were ordained in Germany. Actually there are ten female deacons working in Germany. The one in the Netherlands has been ordained as first female priest within die UAC on July, 29th by apostle Den Haan. On march 1st, 2009 the first German female priest was ordained in Bocholt by apostle Groß. On August, 30th apostle Den Haan ordained the priest Ineke Ras as herder and leader of den Enkhuizen congregation in the Netherlands and meanwhile there are also two female priests working in Germany.


The United Apostolic Church knows and celebrates three sacraments: 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...

, sealing and communion. These three are considered as different images of the one godly salvation.

Baptism is the rite of inition and the participation in the church of Christ. It is considered as rebirth with water and spirit. It is conducted with floating water and children can be baptized on the faith of their parents.

Communion is celebrated in a commemorative sense and as salvation from sin and reconciliation with God.

Sealing is the celebration of 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...

 which came into the world on 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...

. Through this spirit man is able to recognize Christ as his saviour and to grow in faith. It is not conducted on children before their confirmation at the age of 14 anymore. And - as a novelty among apostolic churches - it is not necessarily bound to the office of the apostle.

A monthly magazine, called The Herald is published since 1954, first of the Swiss Vereinigung Apostolischer Christen, nowadays the editorial is with the Apostolische Gemeinschaft in Düsseldorf, Germany. There has been an online version available. From Januar 2010 on the "Herald" is not published any more and a new, coloured, bigger magazine called "Blickpunkt" is edited every two months.


  • Wikipedia Germany
  • Apostolic Church of Queensland, Book of faith
  • Wissen, Volker: Zur Freiheit berufen - Ein Portrait der Vereinigung Apostolischer Gemeinden und ihrer Gliedkirchen, Remscheid 2008 - ISBN 978-3-86870-030-5

External links

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