Saturday, 6 August 2016

History - Catholic Apostolic Church

Catholic Apostolic Church (1832 – 1972)

Some OAC members believe the OAC can trace its roots back to the Catholic Apostolic Church. OAC members commonly believe that only an apostle can ordain another apostle. Was the wealthy London banker and Member of Parliament, Henry Drummond* (1786 – 1860) an ordained apostle? Read and decide for yourself.

There was a Protestant religious revival movement during the early 19th century in the United States which began around 1790. This is known as the Second Great Awakening which gained momentum by 1800 and membership rose rapidly after 1820 among Baptist and Methodist congregations.

The First Great Awakening (1730s-1740s) was an evangelical movement that swept Protestant Europe and the British American colonies. The First Great Awakening hardly had any impact on most Anglicans, Lutherans, Quakers, and non-Protestants.

There was an ecumenical prayer movement at the beginning of the 19th century amongst members of the Church of England, Church of Scotland and Anglican Church. In small social circles, theologians and laymen of various churches and social classes would gather which was accompanied by what were regarded as outpourings of “spiritual gifts” throughout Britain.

See also Hazlitt's Spirit of the Age; Coleridge's Notes on English Divines; Carlyle's Miscellanies, and Carlyle's Reminiscences, volume 1 (1881).

The impulse to the prayer movement in the 1820s was given (among others) by the Anglican priest James Haldane Stewart. He made an appeal to this by means of more than half a million pamphlets which were spread throughout the British Isles, the United States and Europe. They longed for renewed spiritual power, as had been visible in the first century after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the young church. This movement was by no means restricted to the British Isles, with similar investigations and prayers being offered in France, Germany and elsewhere.
Portrait of James Haldane Stewart (1778-1854)
In the same period, the Presbyterian John McLeod Campbell preached in Scotland that Christ died, in principle, for all believers and not only for a small group of the elect.

In 1830, “prophetic utterances” were recorded in Port Glasgow, Scotland, among dissenters and Karlshuld, Bavaria, among Roman Catholics. These took the form of “prophecy”, “speaking in tongues” and miraculous healing. They were regarded as the answer to the prayers many had prayed. These occurrences spread in Scotland and England where certain ministers allowed their practice, although they were not approved of by existing church authorities. However, they died out in Bavaria under the opposition of the responsible clergy.

One of these social circles belonged to the wealthy London banker and Member of Parliament, Henry Drummond in Albury Park, his estate in Surrey. Henry Drummond figures significantly in the story of Albury in Victorian times. Twice a Member of Parliament, he was a zealous adherent of Edward Irving:
Sketch of Henry Drummond

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 under the influence of prayer and Bible study. Edward Irving was also invited. 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. In April 1831 Advocate John Bate Cardale's wife, followed by others, began to “prophesy” and "sing in the Spirit". Their Anglican “priest” rejected the authenticity of these “gifts” and Advocate John Bate Cardale stopped attending his regular church and began attending the Caledonian Church in Regent Square, where Edward Irving was more sympathetic and permitted similar manifestations to occur in his church. Edward Irving was excommunicated by the presbytery from the Church of Scotland ministry due to erroneous doctrine concerning the Person and Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ (in one pamphlet he declared Christ’s human nature to be sinful).

Advocate John Bate Cardale acted as Edward Irving's solicitor but was unsuccessful in preventing their expulsion, so finally in October 1832 Edward Irving's congregation moved to a church in Newman Street.
John Bate Cardale

At a prayer meeting in 1832, the banker and Member of Parliament, Henry Drummond named Advocate John Bate Cardale as an “apostle”. Advocate John Bate Cardale was recognized as the first “living apostle” of the movement and he in turn ordained the banker and Member of Parliament, Henry Drummond as the “angel” of the group. The new “apostle” was treated with great honour, receiving a special seat on the gallery and taking precedence over all the other ministries in the church.

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 49 (page 72):
“By whom has the foundation of Jesus Christ been laid in us?”
“Ans. By the Apostle, Thus Apostle Paul testifies to his community…(1 Cor. 3 v. 9-10)”

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 56 (page 77):
“Who ministers us with the Sacrament of the Holy Sealing?”
“Ans. God, who uses the Apostle as His servant (fellow worker)…(1 Cor. 3 v 9)”

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 57 (page 77):
“How is the Sacrament of the Holy Sealing ministered?”
“Ans. Through the laying on of the hands of an Apostle of Jesus Christ. (Refer Act 19 v. 6 and Acts 8 v. 15-17.)”

Does a wealthy London banker and Member of Parliament qualify as an “apostle” of Jesus Christ? Can we really consider Advocate John Bate Cardale to be an “apostle” because a wealthy banker and Member of Parliament “laid hands” on him?

Trying to emulate the early church era, they created a church “government” with “apostles”, “prophets”, “elders”, “evangelists” and “deacons”. Advocate John Bate Cardale became the principal liturgist and "Pillar of Apostles". In 1833 Henry Drummond became the second "living apostle" and was later assigned responsibility for Scotland and Switzerland.

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 40 (page 68):
“Can a church of God be established out of the scriptures?” (Sic)
Ans. No: God Himself has ordained His church through Jesus of Nazareth and the scriptures testify of this church.

From question 40 above it’s obvious that the Albury circle was wasting their time if the church of God had already been ordained.

Portrait of the Albury Park circle

Edward Irving succeeded Henry Drummond as ʺangelʺ of the church and the movement began to grow rapidly. 800 of the church members joined Edward Irving at a new building in Newman Street. The new church community began to call itself the Catholic Apostolic Church, but the members were often popularly referred to as Irvingites.

By July 1835, six months after Edward Irving’s death, six more “living apostles” were ordained so that there were twelve ʺliving apostlesʺ.

From then on the words of these “apostles” were considered to be more authoritative and binding than Scripture. Some of them were of the highest political and social standing. Eight of them were members of the Church of England; three of the Church of Scotland and one of them from the Independents when they held their first council in Albury in 1835.

The names of the “apostles” were John Bate Cardale, Henry Drummond, Henry King-Church, Spencer Perceval, Nicholas Armstrong, Francis Valentine Woodhouse, Henry Dalton, John O. Tudor, Thomas Carlyle, Francis Sitwell, William Dow and Duncan Mackenzie.

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. The Catholic Apostolic Church followed the Nicene Creed which was originally adopted in the city of Nicaea (present day Iznik, Turkey) by the First Council of Nicaea in 325.

The seat of the “Apostolic College” was at Albury, near Guildford. The “apostles” retired there to set in order the worship and prepared and wrote a "Testimony" of their work. This manifest was called the “Testimonium” which was presented to the spiritual and temporal rulers in all parts of Christendom in 1836, beginning with an appeal to the bishops of the Church of England, then in a more comprehensive form to the Pope and other leaders in Christendom, including the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, the Tsar of Russia, the Kings of France, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, as well as King William IV of England. The “apostles” declared that the Church was the body of all that had been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, thus laying aside all divisions between nominal Christians, and that the “apostolate” had been restored for setting the whole body of Christianity in order to be ready for the Second Coming of Christ; therefore, they called upon all the clergy and lay authorities to recognize this and submit.

Because of excommunications from the established churches, new congregations were founded in several countries.

After a long period of combined preparation, these “apostles” started to travel around the world. During 1837 and 1838, they undertook missionary journeys to mainland Europe, Canada, and the USA. The main point of their gospel was that the Church had deviated from its origins and only through restoring the “Universal Church” to its perfect state could the return of Christ be ensured. This is in stark contrast to what the OAC believe today.

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 27 (pages 62-63):
“Has Christ already come, or do we still expect him?” (Sic)
“Ans. (a) Because the world expects that Christ will come on a natural cloud, they still look forward to his coming. From Matt. 16 v. 28, it is however clear, that Christ must already have come…”
“Ans. (b) From 2 Tim. 4 v. 7-8 it is clear that Christ must already have come during Apostle Paul’s life on earth…”
“Ans. (c) For us Christ has come, and we see Him, because it is revealed to us through the Holy Spirit and is our life…”

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 31 (page 65):
“On which clouds will Christ appear?”
“Ans. We must not confuse these clouds with natural clouds... It is the cloud of witnesses… It is the same cloud under which the flock of God was led out of Egypt…”

In 1839, when the “apostles” authority was questioned by some members of the church, “apostle” John Bate Cardale acted decisively: he recalled his fellow “apostles” and discontinued the regular meetings of the Council of the Churches, in which critical voices had been raised. The end of the church's “prophetical” element was underlined by the adoption in 1843 of an elaborate new liturgy. This was mainly the product of “apostle” John Bate Cardale's efforts and it reflected his researches into the Eastern and Catholic offices, as well as the Anglican rites of his upbringing. The church's liturgy was enlarged in 1846 to include the rite of "sealing".

Each “apostle” would have one coadjutor, who was used to travel through areas of his responsibility and represent the “apostle” in conferences.

The ministry was exclusively male, based on their literal interpretation of the headship of the man over the woman as laid down in the book of Genesis. Three grades of ordained ministry were recognized: “bishop”, “priest” and “deacon”.

The Catholic Apostolic Church had among its clergy many clerics of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and other churches. The orders of those ordained by Greek, Roman, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Anglican bishops were recognized by the simple confirmation of their ordination through an “apostolic” act.

A “bishop” was in charge of only one congregation, though others might be under his care until they too could be put under the care of their own “bishop”. A “bishop” was titled "angel" based on their literal interpretation of Revelation 1:20. All local ministers were subject to him, and he was responsible for the welfare of the congregations committed to his charge. All “angels” received a small salary and were "separated"—that is, they had no other work to support them.

The “priesthood” consisted of at least six “priests” per congregation and they would help the “angel” in the services. The six “priests” also known as “elders’ were separated and received an allowance.

The “deaconship” was particularly set up to look after the monetary affairs of the congregation, help the laity with regular visits and advice, and take part in evangelism. Seven were set up in each full congregation for this end, and there would be one helper who was also a “deacon”. The deacons were not separated and each had his own source of income outside of the church. They were not identified by word of “prophecy” but elected by the congregations. Certain names would be put forward, and each family would have one preference vote.

The hierarchy of “angels”, “priests” and “deacons” was not considered sufficient to perfect the “saints” based on their literal interpretation of Ephesians 4:11. These were defined to be four in number as against the interpretation of a fivefold ministry: (apostle or) elder, prophet, evangelist, and pastor (or teacher).

Catechism of the Old Apostolic Church of Africa…Part 2; Question 38 (page 68):
“Who can understand the scriptures?” (Sic)
“Ans. Those whose spiritual eye has been opened by the spirit of God. We read in Luke 24 v. 45, with reference to the Apostles…”

These were referred to as the "border" or "colour" of the ministry and were discerned by “prophecy”. Since these ministries were supposed to indicate something about the fundamental character of the minister personally, the border could not be changed once defined.
Because the fourfold ministry was necessary to perform the full services of the liturgy, four “priests”, one of each border, had to be present along with the “bishop”. The border could be defined for any person or minister; thus, there were combinations of rank and border in any manner. For instance, there were “angel-prophets”, “angel-evangelists”, and “priest-prophets” as well as “priest-elders”, “deacon-pastors”, “deacon-prophets” and so on. Certain of these combinations often implied particular roles. For example, the “angel-evangelists” were particularly responsible for evangelism within their geographical region or tribe while “angel-prophets” were automatically at the disposal of the “apostles” in Albury.

The “elder” was generally in charge of organization and declaring doctrine. The function of the “prophets” was to explain Scripture, minister the word of “prophecy”, and exhort to holiness, as well as to identify spiritual influences and borders. The “evangelist” was used to declare the Gospel and explain the Bible teachings. The “pastor” was used for the teaching of “truth”, the provision of spiritual counsel and comfort to the laity. Once a congregation had an “angel” and the “fourfold ministry” from local people, full services could be held. This was announced by the hanging of seven lamps reminiscent of the seven-branched candlestick of the Jewish rituals, across the pulpit.

There would be “under-deacons” who would help out in the church services like keeping doors, handing out liturgies, and so on while also working with the “deacons” in visiting the congregation. They received a blessing from the local “angel” but were not ordained. Two “under-deacons” would be designated as "scribes" in order to record any words of “prophecy” and also write down the sermons and homilies as they were preached. After comparing their accounts, the copy would be sent to the “apostles” so that they could understand the spiritual state of the congregations. They would also note any prophetic utterances and submit them to the “angel”.

Albury Park

The church building had to be freehold and the title deeds given over to the “apostles” for their perpetual use. The church was to be laid out in three distinct parts, corresponding to the three divisions of the tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem. The main body of the building would be for the congregation. Then slightly elevated from the congregation by a step or two was the pulpit for the “priests” and “deacons”. The third part, slightly elevated again with regard to the pulpit and separated from it by a low barrier with a gate, was the sanctuary. Communion would be distributed to the faithful kneeling at this barrier, the one ministering being inside the sanctuary. The sanctuary contained the altar, placed centrally against the wall or dividing partition, and usually elevated on a pedestal.

The altar was usually ornate, with a receptacle (referred to as the "tabernacle") for storage of the communion bread and wine on top. Either side of the altar would be a lamp, lit during important services. Hanging centrally over the sanctuary would be another lamp, lit when the communion bread and wine was stored in the "tabernacle". Lamps would be lit in the morning and put out after the evening service. All lamps were oil lamps with wicks and only pure olive oil was used. There would be a special chair or "throne" for the “angel” at the end of the pulpit on the left; in the middle of the pulpit at the same level would be a special kneeler used by the “angel” during the intercession part of the service; an incense burning stand stood next to it. Over on the right side of the pulpit stood a table used for the bread and wine for the communion, as well as other offerings as the service demanded. A reading-desk was provided in the pulpit on the right side for the Scripture readings; while at the front of the pulpit two further reading-desks, on the left and on the right, were used for the Gospel and Epistle readings during the communion service. A pulpit on the left side (as looking towards the altar) would be provided for preaching.

The community laid great stress on symbolism and in the communion bread and wine, while rejecting both transubstantiation and consubstantiation, they held strongly to a mystical presence. The communion being the memorial sacrifice of Christ was the central service. The “apostles” insisted that there was a real spiritual presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in this sacrament.

Holy days required special services, in particular the feasts of “christmas”, “easter” and Pentecost. Other major celebrations were “all saints” day, “good Friday” and the eve of Pentecost. Among other feasts were “circumcision”, “presentation”, “ascension”, “all angels”, “advent” as well as the anniversary of the separation of the “apostles”.

The movement spread to Europe and was particularly successful in Germany. 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 and affirmed that no further callings to the apostolate would be accepted.

On October 10th, 1862, Heinrich Geyer called Rudolf Rosochacki to be an “apostle” while staying in his home. On January 4th, 1863, most of the Hamburg congregation accepted the calling of Rudolf Rosochacki to the “apostolate”. A few days later “apostle” Rudolf Rosochacki became doubtful of the divine origin of his calling as an “apostle” after meeting with some of the other “apostles”. After a few weeks Rudolf Rosochacki receded.

On January 26th, 1863 “angel” Friedrich Wilhelm Schwartz met with “apostle” Francis Valentine Woodhouse in Berlin and expressed his belief in the need to continue the “apostle” ministry. On February 6th, 1863 “apostle” Francis Valentine Woodhouse informed the Hamburg congregation in writing of its expulsion from the Catholic Apostolic Church.

The last of the Albury Movement’s twelve “apostles”, Francis Valentine Woodhouse, died on February 3rd, 1901. The last “angel” died in 1960 in Siegen, Germany. The last “priest” died in 1971 in London, England. The last “deacon” died in 1972 in Melbourne, Australia.

The distinguishing feature of the Catholic Apostolic Church was that it was led by “apostles” who believed they could “dispense” the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers through the laying on of their hands. This was to prepare them for the return of Christ which they expected imminently. When their “apostles” started dying out they decided to change their expectation of the future. From then on they began to hope in the imminent rapture of the congregation they had already gathered.

A tree is known by its fruit and false prophets are known by their false prophecies.
Additional notes:

*        The wealthy London banker and Member of Parliament, Henry Drummond (1786 – 1860) is not to be confused with Reverend Henry Drummond (1851 – 1897) who was a Scottish evangelist, writer, scientist and biologist and described by Dwight L. Moody as the “most Christ like man” he had ever met.


  1. The photo that you indicated as the Albury Park Circle is in fact a portrait of the Apostles long after formation of the Church. There is another portrait that depict the Albury Circle. It would also be nice if you could quote your sources.

    1. I thought the picture I placed was obviously a portrait since photography was only commercially introduced in 1839. Thanks for the tip anyway.

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