11.3.3 The continuation of the Apostle ministry in the New Apostolic Church

The English Apostles were successful in their resistance of an extension of the circle of Apostles and thereby actually the continuation of the church led by Apostles. In opposition to this, the prophet Heinrich Geyer and the leader of the Hamburg congregation, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz (1815-1895), insisted that Rudolf Rosochacky (1815-1895) had received a divine calling. On 10 October 1862, the latter had been called as an Apostle by the prophet Geyer. On 4 January 1863, the Hamburg congregation acknowledged this calling.


Even when Apostle Rosochacky resigned from his ministry shortly thereafter, Geyer, Schwartz, and the Hamburg congregation maintained that a divine calling had indeed been given. On 27 January 1863, Schwartz was removed from his ministry by Apostle Woodhouse and expelled from the Catholic Apostolic Church. The Hamburg congregation was also excommunicated because they followed Schwartz.


Therefore January 1863 marks the beginning of the New Apostolic Church.


Soon after, Priest Carl Wilhelm Louis Preuss (1827-1878) and, a little later, Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz, were called as Apostles. Preuss worked in northern Germany while Schwartz was assigned the Netherlands as his working area. Further callings of Apostles followed shortly thereafter.


The newly formed community called itself the Allgemeine Christliche apostolische Mission ("General Christian Apostolic Mission"). This name, like the designation of the Dutch branch "Restored Apostolic Mission Church", reflected the hope of reaching large parts of Christianity.


In 1872, Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff (1826-1895) was called as an Apostle for Westphalia and the Rhineland.


In 1884, he founded the first Church periodical in Germany, entitled Der Herold. Monatsschrift für wahrheitsliebende Christen ("The Herald, a monthly circular for truth-loving Christians"). Under his influence, Apostle Schwartz, beginning in his working area, did away with liturgical vestments and many elements of the liturgy taken over from the Catholic Apostolic Church. As of 1885, these changes were adopted by all other congregations.


In 1881, Friedrich Krebs (1832-1905) from Braunschweig was called as an Apostle. After the death of Apostles Schwartz and Menkhoff, he took on the function of leader. His most important concern was the oneness among the Apostles. He was the first Chief Apostle in the current sense of the word.


The more the Apostle ministry, with its comprehensive powers, came to the foreground in the Church toward the close of the nineteenth century, the more the significance of the prophets began to diminish. By the end of the 1920s there were no more prophets active in the congregations.


The first decades in the history of the New Apostolic Church served, among other things, to consolidate the congregations and the unity among the Apostles. Beginning in 1897, the Chief Apostle ministry began to crystallise as the leading ministry of the Church. It was occupied by Friedrich Krebs until his death in the year 1905.


Other bearers of the Chief Apostle ministry were:

  • Hermann Niehaus (1848-1932, Chief Apostle from 1905 to 1930),
  • Johann Gottfried Bischoff (1871-1960, Chief Apostle from 1930 to 1960),
  • Walter Schmidt (1891-1981, Chief Apostle from 1960 to 1975),
  • Ernst Streckeisen (1905-1978, Chief Apostle from 1975 to 1978),
  • Hans Urwyler (1925-1994, Chief Apostle from 1978 to 1988),
  • Richard Fehr (born 1939, Chief Apostle from 1988 to 2005),
  • Wilhelm Leber (born 1947, Chief Apostle as of 2005).


It was in the context of believing anticipation of a special ministry in the church that believing men were called to the Apostle ministry in England starting in 1832. (11.3→)


In 1837 the Apostles published the Great Testimony and called upon the clergy of all the churches to subject themselves to the authority of the Apostles. This appeal of the Apostles met with no response, however. (11.3.1→)


In January 1863 the congregation in Hamburg acknowledged the calling of Rudolf Rosochacky as an Apostle. Therefore January 1863 marks the beginning of the New Apostolic Church. (11.3.3→)


As of 1897 the Chief Apostle ministry began to emerge as the leading ministry of the church. (11.3.3→)