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.[1] While often referred to as Irvingism or the Irvingian movement, it was neither founded nor anticipated by Edward Irving. The church was organised in 1835 under the lead of self-proclaimed apostles.

Within the movement the Catholic Apostolic Church referred to the very large community of Christians who follow the Nicene Creed. Those outside used the name to refer to the ecumenical prayer movement at its height in the early 19th century, accompanied by what were regarded by the said movement as outpourings of spiritual gifts in Great Britain (and elsewhere, though swiftly repressed by the local church authorities in other countries) including the making of new apostles to be followed, subsidiary to the twelve apostles during the Ministry of Jesus Christ.


Early history

The impulse to the prayer movement in the 1820s was given (among others) by the Anglican priest James Haldane Stewart. He made an appeal to this by means of more than half a million pamphlets which were spread throughout Great Britain, the 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. In the same period, the Presbyterian John McLeod Campbell preached in Scotland, contrary to the prevailing Calvinist orthodoxy, that Christ died for the salvation of all (unlimited atonement) and not only for a small, predetermined group of individuals known as the "elect" (limited atonement).

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.

Edward Irving

Edward Irving, also a minister in the Church of Scotland and supporter of Campbell, preached in his church at Regent Square in London on the speedy return of Jesus Christ and the real substance of his human nature. He attracted thousands of listeners, even from the highest circles, and during his summer tours in Scotland (1827, 1828) believers came to listen to him with tens of thousands in attendance.

Irving's relationship to this community was, according to its members, somewhat similar to that of John the Baptist to the early Christian Church. He was hailed by his followers as the forerunner of a coming dispensation, not the founder of a new sect. Around him, as well as around other congregations of different origins, coalesced persons who had been driven out of other churches, wanting to "exercise their spiritual gifts". Shortly after Irving's trial and deposition (1831),[2] he restarted meetings in a hired hall in London, and much of his original congregation followed him. These, over the course of the next two years, accepting the presence of restored "apostles" and guided by claimed words of prophecy, saw Edward Irving officially installed as their bishop. This congregation became known as the "Central Church", one of seven that were defined in London as forming a pattern of the whole Christian Church.

Separation of the apostles and their "testimony"

Within the congregations mentioned, over the course of a short time, six persons were designated as apostles by certain others who claimed prophetic gifts. In 1835, six months after Irving's death, six others were similarly designated as called to complete the number of the twelve. Since all those so designated were acting to one degree or another in local congregations, they were then formally separated from these duties, by the bishops of the seven congregations, to occupy their higher office in the universal church on 14 July 1835.

The names of those considered new apostles were: John Bate Cardale, Henry Drummond, Henry King-Church, Spencer Perceval, Nicholas Armstrong, Francis Woodhouse (Francis Valentine Woodhouse), Henry Dalton, John Tudor (John O. Tudor), Thomas Carlyle, Francis Sitwell, William Dow and Duncan Mackenzie.

These, together with the seven congregations in London, the coadjutors of the apostles, formed what was known as the "Universal Church". The seat of the apostolic college was at Albury, near Guildford. They retired there immediately after their separation to set in order the worship and prepare a "testimony" of their work. This was presented to the spiritual and temporal rulers in various 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 and Sweden, as well as King William IV of England. The apostles declared that the Christian Church was the body of all that had been baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, thus laying aside all divisions between nominal Christians, and that the apostolate had been restored for setting the whole body of Christianity in order to be ready for the Second Coming of Christ; therefore, they called upon all the clergy and lay authorities to recognise this and submit to their self-appointment as "apostles".

Structure and ministries


The apostles were regarded as the conveyors of the Holy Spirit, the declarers of the mysteries of God, and the authoritative interpreters of prophetic utterance; acting in concert they were the source of doctrine and the demonstrators of the mind of Christ. Their teaching was brought to the people by the evangelists and pastors, and by the ministers of the local churches for those who accepted their ministry.

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

Grades of ministry and ordination

The ministry was exclusively male, on the grounds of the headship of the man over the woman as laid down by God in Genesis. All ministers had to be called by the word of prophecy to their place; this was still elective, in that frequent opportunity was given to present oneself as willing to take on a role in the ministry, and also that any direct call could be refused, though in practice this was extremely rare. All ministers had to be ordained by the apostles or their delegates; after they had been called and responded faithfully, a date would be set for their ordination.

Three grades of ordained ministry were recognised: bishop, priest, and deacon. Ministers could be reassigned from one congregation to another by word of prophecy, except for inducted bishops who were considered to be "married" to the congregation of which they had charge. Each rank had different vestments to differentiate their function. It also occurred that people would be called to an office (say, that of priest) but would fulfil a lower rank (say, that of deacon) until it became clear where they would serve. This clarification was either prophetic or practical in character—if a priest was needed somewhere such a person might be asked to take up the role, or a special mission might be accorded.

All grades were allowed to preach sermons and homilies. All sermons were referred to the apostles in order to ensure that the teachings were in accordance with the Bible, revealed truth, and the apostles' doctrine. The Catholic Apostolic Church had among its clergy many clerics of the Roman 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" (following the passage in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3), defined as "a bishop who has been ordained by an Apostle". All local ministers were subject to him, and he was responsible for the welfare of the congregations committed to his charge. While the angels had full authority within their congregations, it was expected that, having received the apostles, they would acknowledge the apostles' oversight, doctrine and forms of worship. Each angel could have one "help" or "coadjutor" who would also be of the rank of angel.

If an angel had been sent to take charge of a congregation, he could not be inducted until that congregation had accepted him. If the congregation outgrew itself, subsidiary local congregations could be formed each with their angel and ministries. These were limited to four in number (only the church in Berlin had the full complement of four). The angels of the subsidiary congregations were under the charge of the angel of the mother church.

Certain angels were designated as "archangels". There were two classes of archangels: the metropolitan archangels, of which there were supposed to be six in each tribe (this was never fully implemented throughout the tribes); and the universal archangels, who were called by word of prophecy to the post without being in charge of a "metropolitan congregation"; these last were at the disposition of the apostles for missions within the Church at large. All angels received a (small) salary and were "separated"—that is, they had no other work to support them.


The priesthood was fully developed in many congregations. At least six priests were to be found to help the angel in the services, among them each of the four ministries was to be found. There were frequently many more priests than six, and each would have the oversight of particular members or areas. The six priests might also have helpers who were also of the rank of priest. The six priests (known as elders) were separated and received stipends, others might or might not receive stipends.


The diaconate 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. Other deacons not of this seven would aid in looking after the congregation.

The deacons were not separated and each had in general his own source of income outside of the church. Deacons were not identified by word of prophecy but elected by the congregations. Certain names would be put forward and each family would have one preference vote.

Fourfold ministry

The hierarchy of angels, priests and deacons was not considered sufficient to perfect the saints, but the spiritual ministries taken from Ephesians 4:11 were developed for this end. 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). 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 organisation and declaring doctrine. The function of the prophets was to explain Scripture, minister the word of prophecy, and exhort to holiness, as well as to identify spiritual influences and borders (though this last function had to be done in special meetings call for that purpose and not at any time that pleased the prophet). 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 (not including ministers who had transferred from other congregations), the full services could be held. This was announced by the hanging of seven lamps across the chancel.

Laity and other officers

Unordained officers

There would be under-deacons who would help out in the church services (keeping doors, handing out liturgies, and so on) and also work with the deacons in visiting the congregation. They received a blessing from the local angel but were not ordained. They could take certain minor services with license from the presiding minister of the congregation.

Two acolytes accompanied the angel during the celebration of the services and others would help robe the ministers beforehand but would not accompany the service. Deaconesses received blessing from the angel but were unordained. They mainly helped the deacons in their care for the congregations, particularly towards the women. Lay-assistants were also blessed for various reasons related to church work. All unordained officers would wear a cassock in church, though they would usually sit with the congregation.

Two under-deacons or lay-assistants would be designated as "scribes" in order to record any words of prophecy and also write down the sermons and homilies as they were preached. After comparing their accounts, the copy would be sent to the apostles so that they could understand the spiritual state of the congregations. They would also note any prophetic utterances and submit them to the angel.


The congregations were expected to be at least as spiritually endowed as the clergy, and prophetic utterances from the laity were common. Each family or person living alone was under the care of a deacon, deaconess and priest, to whom they could resort if in need of advice or help, temporal as well as spiritual. Members also had access to monetary relief, if in need. Access to ministers was encouraged.


Twelve tribes

For ecclesiastical purposes, the church universal was divided into twelve tribes because Christendom was considered to be divided into twelve portions or tribes, defined according to the prevailing spiritual character of the country and only secondarily geographically. Nineteenth-century political geography was not followed, notably in the recognition of Poland (which at that time did not exist as a country) as a tribe in its own right. Certain countries outside Europe were designated as "suburbs" of a tribe.

Each tribe was under the special charge of an apostle and his co-ministers. The apostles always held the supreme authority, though, as their number dwindled, their coadjutors inherited their responsibilities as long as they lived and assisted the survivors in the functions of the apostolate. The last apostle, Francis Valentine Woodhouse, died on February 3, 1901.

The central episcopacy of forty-eight was regarded as indicated by prophecy, being foreshown in the forty-eight boards of the Mosaic tabernacle. All of the functions, ordinances, vestments and symbols were thus taken from the Bible and were said to be the fulfilment of how the primitive church was originally set up under the first Apostles. All members were expected to be spiritual, there was no limitation of spiritual manifestations to the clergy, and contacts on spiritual matters between the clergy and the laity were encouraged, though only ordained ministers were allowed to preach or take services.

Structure of the local church

Each fully endowed congregation was presided over by its angel or bishop; under him were twenty-four priests, divided variously into the four ministries of elders, prophets, evangelists, and pastors. Six priests were further designated "elders" and aided the bishop in the rule of the local church. With these were the deacons, seven of whom regulated the temporal affairs of the local church, though there could be up to 60 according to the number of people in the congregation. Moreover, there were also underdeacons, deaconesses, acolytes, singers, and doorkeepers, though none of these were ordained.

The understanding was that each elder, with his co-presbyters and deacons, should have charge of 500 adult communicants in his district, making one church have 3000 members, corresponding to the number of converts at the first preaching of the Gospel in Acts. This could be only partially carried into practice.

Layout of churches

Churches were to be built by the means of the local congregation and to their approved designs, though the organisation and layout of the church had to follow the apostles' prescriptions. The church building had to be freehold and the title deeds given over to the apostles for their perpetual use; there was usually a set of trustees in each country for legal reasons.

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 nave would be for the congregation, then slightly elevated by a step or two the chancel for the priests and deacons (deacons sitting in cross benches at the entrance and priests along the sides). The third part, slightly elevated again with regard to the chancel and separated from it by a low barrier with a gate, was the sanctuary. Communion would be distributed to the faithful kneeling at this barrier, the ministrant being inside the sanctuary. The sanctuary contained the altar, placed centrally against the wall or dividing partition, and usually elevated on a pedestal.


The decoration and style varied considerably according to the means of each congregation and the local preferences. The altar was usually ornate, with a receptacle (referred to as the "tabernacle") for storage of the eucharist on top. Either side of the altar would be a lamp, lit during high services. Hanging centrally over the sanctuary would be another lamp, lit when the eucharist was stored in the "tabernacle". If the congregation had the fourfold ministry, the seven lamps, reminiscent of the seven-branched candlestick of the Jewish rituals, would hang over the chancel near the sanctuary. These would be lit in the morning and put out after the evening service. All lamps were oil lamps with wicks and only pure olive oil was used.

There would be a special chair or "throne" for the angel at the end of the chancel on the left; in the middle of the chancel at the same level would be a special kneeler used by the angel during the intercession part of the service; a censer stand stood next to it. Over on the right side of the chancel stood a table of prothesis used for the to-be-consecrated bread and wine for the communion, as well as other offerings as the service demanded. A lectern was provided in the chancel on the right side for the Scripture readings; while at the front of the chancel two further lecterns, on the left and on the right, were used for the Gospel and Epistle readings in the eucharist service. A pulpit on the left side (as looking towards the altar) would be provided for preaching: sometimes this would be placed adjoining the chancel, sometimes in the nave among the congregation. At the back of the nave near an entrance a font with a cover would be placed for baptisms.

Tithes and offerings

The ministry was supported by tithes in addition to the free-will offerings for the support of the place of worship and for the relief of distress. Each local church sent a tithe of its tithes to the apostles, by which the ministers of the Universal Church were supported and its administrative expenses defrayed; by these offerings, too, the needs of poorer churches were supplied.

There was no collection during the service, but a trunk with various compartments for the different types of offerings was placed at the entrance to the church. They were generally divided into tithes, general offerings, thank-offerings, offerings for the upkeep of the church, the poor, and support for the universal ministry. Uniquely this trunk was left untouched until the presentation of the offerings during the Eucharist on Sundays, when it would be emptied and counted in a vestry by two deacons during part of the service, before a prayer of dedication to the purposes outlined would be pronounced. Distribution of money to the poor, not just members, was regularly practised.

Liturgy and forms of worship

For the service of the church a comprehensive book of liturgies and offices was provided by the apostles. The first impression dates from 1842 and includes elements from the Anglican, Roman, and Greek liturgies as well as original work. Lights, incense, vestments, holy water, chrism, and other adjuncts of worship were in constant use. The complete ceremony could be seen in their Central Church (now leased to Forward in Faith and known as Christ the King, Gordon Square) and elsewhere.

The daily worship consisted of matins with proposition (or exposition) of the sacrament at 6 am, prayers at 9 am and 3 pm, and vespers at 5 pm. On all Sundays and holy days there was a solemn celebration of the Eucharist at the high altar; on Sundays this was at 11 am. On other days low celebrations were held, in the side-chapels if the building had them, which with the chancel in all churches correctly built after apostolic directions were separated or marked off from the nave by open screens with gates. The community laid great stress on symbolism, and in the Eucharist, while rejecting both transubstantiation and consubstantiation, held strongly to a real (mystical) presence. It emphasized also the phenomena of Christian experience and deemed miracle and mystery to be of the essence in a spirit-filled church.

Sources of forms of worship

After the Testimony, the apostles were directed to travel through Christendom, to visit all parts of Christianity and Christian worship, and search for the correct forms; the form and content of worship was not to be the result of arbitrary choice but defined by interpreting the Bible. Particular emphasis was laid on the relationship between the rites under the Jewish law as laid down in Leviticus and the liturgy of the church. The apostles brought these back after one or two years to Albury and the worship was set in order as a result. The forms of worship and the liturgy developed until the 1860s as special services were added.

Following the more or less complete rejection of their Testimony, the apostles were led to set up congregations to look after those who had accepted them and had been excluded from their habitual places of worship and to install in them the forms of worship that they had been led to identify. In the 1850s, the clergy of the Church of England were invited to come and see what had been set up, but this too remained fruitless. The services were published as The Liturgy and other Divine Offices of the Church. Although many forms and prayers were taken over from different parts of the Church, many had to be written by the apostles since they did not exist elsewhere; about two-thirds of the liturgy was original. Apostle Cardale put together two large volumes of writings about the liturgy, with references to its history and the reasons for operating in the ways defined, which was published under the title Readings on the Liturgy.

Main services

The Eucharist, being the memorial sacrifice of Christ, was the central service. The Apostles rejected transubstantiation as well as consubstantiation while insisting on the real spiritual presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament. Communion was taken in both kinds. Children were also admitted to communion from time to time, and more frequently until admitted to full communion, which generally occurred between the ages of 18 and 20. Communion would be distributed each day after morning prayer, though no consecration would be performed.

Each day morning and evening services were held at 6 am and 5 pm. These, together with the Eucharist (11 am on Sundays) and the Forenoon service which immediately preceded it, were considered services of obligation, to be attended as often as other duties allowed. Afternoon services were also instituted. The apostles did not limit the services to these hours and other services could be held with the angel's permission.

There existed full and shorter forms. The full form could only be offered in a church under an inducted angel, where the four ministries had been provided by members of the congregation (rather than ministers co-opted from other congregations).

Each service in the full form started with an act of confession, followed by absolution, reading of the scriptures, anthems, psalms and the recital of the creed. The fourfold ministry would then offer the four Pauline divisions of prayer – supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks, with the addition of collects for the seasons and with the Lord's prayer placed in the centre. Following this, the angel would offer a prayer of universal intercession, at which time also incense would be offered. The service would close with an anthem and a universal blessing from the angel. Shorter forms followed almost the same course but without the four divisions of prayer, without incense and in a less elaborate form. Much of the music in the Catholic Apostolic Church is composed by Edmund Hart Turpin, former secretary of the Royal College of Organists.

Special services

Holy days required special services, in particular the feasts of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost; with other major celebrations at All Saint's day, Good Friday and the eve of Pentecost. Among other feasts were Circumcision, Presentation, Ascension, All Angels, and Advent, as well as the anniversary of the separation of the apostles. Each major feast was followed by an octave of special prayers.

Comprehensive special services were also provided for many other occasions, both public and private, including ordinations, special days of humiliation or rejoicing, blessings for work and visiting the sick. For more information see the liturgy.

Prophecy and spiritual gifts

Prophetic utterances in any church were the responsibility of the angel who would note what had been said and in turn submit words that were found important to the apostles. They would in turn use these words to direct their actions, and some would be circulated to the angels to be read to their congregations. These last were referred to as "words of record". No-one was expected to act immediately upon any word but to wait for it to be ministered to them in the right way.

Numerous examples of miracles as well as the spiritual gifts described in the Pauline Epistles were recorded. As therein described, the existence of a spiritual gift does not convey any superiority of the person involved but a benefit for the whole church; and each person may exhibit a gift as the Holy Ghost so moves them.

Spiritual development

Baptism was not considered the end of spiritual endeavour but the reaching of maturity through the laying on of the apostles hands (known as "sealing"), after acceptance to full communion and the renewal of baptismal vows, was considered necessary to the full development of every person whether woman or man, lay or clergy. Classes were held for younger people and new members, a catechism was written, and regular contacts with the ministers having the care of the family or person was instituted and encouraged.

Infant baptism was practised on the grounds that it was the only gate to eternal life, and it seemed wrong to deny this to anyone. The child would receive first communion shortly afterwards and then again after the age of five about once per year. With the agreement of the responsible minister this would be increased to three times per year at the feasts of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost as the child grew up, with communion once per month after the age of fourteen or so. Full communion was entered into in a formal service not long before the laying on of the apostle's hands was to be arranged.

Number of congregations and members

The existence of apparently separate congregations is understood by the community not as in any sense being a schism or separation from the one Catholic Church, but a separation to a special work of restoration, blessing and intercession on behalf of it on the one hand, and the results of the rejection of the Testimony on the other. In the early days those who accepted the Apostles were told to remain in their congregations and explain their adherence to their ministers. As the nuclei of the first congregations sprang out of the rejection of certain ministers by the churches to which they belonged, so many churches were set up to take care of those who were similarly cast out. Such congregations were established as patterns of the restored worship.

Indeed, sectarianism is wholly rejected: the basic principle is that all who are baptized in the name of the Trinity are Christian and form part of one church. The name was taken directly from the Apostles' Creed as belonging to all Christians and not designating something new.

Inspired by outbreaks of agalliasis (manifestations of the Spirit), and miraculous healing, the numbers of those who accepted the Apostles throughout the world grew at an amazing rate. The majority, after the rejection of the Apostles by the other churches, were cared for in separated congregations with ordained ministries. However, when the last apostle died in 1901 without an appearance of the 'Light of the World', the Catholic Apostolic Church declined; since ordination was only possible with Apostolic consent, no further consecrations to the ministry could be made. External evangelism, common since the beginning in 1835, ceased at the same time, and all services were reduced to a shorter form, even in congregations where the full Ministry was operating.

Estimated membership at the beginning of the 20th century was 200,000, in almost 1000 congregations worldwide, spread as follows: England: 315, Scotland 28, Ireland: 6, Germany: 348, Netherlands: 17, Austria/Hungary: 8, Switzerland: 41, Norway: 10, Sweden: 15, Denmark: 59, Russia, Finland, Poland and the Baltic States: 18, France: 7, Belgium: 3, Italy: 2, US: 29, Canada: 13, Australia: 15, New Zealand: 5, South Africa: 1.

The last Angel died in 1960 in Siegen, Germany; the last Priest in 1971 in London, England; the last Deacon in 1972 in Melbourne, Australia. In 2014, the only active Catholic Apostolic congregation apparently left intact in the British Isles would seem to be the group conducting weekly worship at its large church in Maida Avenue, one of John Loughborough Pearson's last churches, near the Regent's Canal just west of Paddington station in London. The absence of any ordained clergy whose ministry the congregation would accept means that little of the once impressive liturgy can still be employed. The other principal building in London, to all intents and purposes the Catholic Apostolic "cathedral", in Gordon Square, also survives and has been let for other religious purposes since the early 1960s, serving for most of that time as the chaplaincy ("Christ the King") for the University of London, in whose main district it lies. The Apostles' Chapel at Albury, Surrey remains in the care of the Catholic Apostolic trustees but stands unused, though maintained. Of the other buildings once operated in Britain, none appears to survive in its original use; the Liverpool church suffered a devastating arson attack when it was on the brink of creative re-use and was then demolished, despite a campaign to save it; a similar building in Manchester has also not survived. The very distinguished building in Edinburgh, with its fine murals by Phoebe Anna Traquair, happily remains. The Aberdeen church on Justice Mill Lane is now a nightclub.

New Apostolic schism

After the death of three apostles in 1855 the apostolate declared that there was no reason to call new apostles. Two callings of substitutes ("Jesus calleth thee Apostolic Messenger. He would use thee Coadjutor for him whom He hath gathered to Himself.") were explained by the apostolate in 1860 as Coadjutors to the remaining apostles. After this event another apostle was called in Germany in 1862 by the prophet Heinrich Geyer. The Apostles did not agree with this calling, and therefore the larger part of the Hamburg congregation who followed their 'angel' F.W. Schwartz in this schism were excommunicated. Out of this sprang the Allgemeine Christliche Apostolische Mission (ACAM) in 1863 and the Dutch branch of the Restored Apostolic Mission Church (at first known as Apostolische Zending, since 1893 officially registered as Hersteld Apostolische Zendingkerk (HAZK)). This later became the New Apostolic Church. The person called to be an apostle later recanted and was accepted back into his original rank.

Notable members

Aside from Irving, notable members include Thomas Carlyle, Baron Carlyle of Torthorwald (1803–1855), who was given responsibility for northern Germany. (This is not Thomas Carlyle the essayist (1795–1881), although Irving knew both men.). Besides Thomas Carlyle, Edward Wilton Eddis contributed to the Catholic Apostolic Hymnal; Edmund Hart Turpin contributed much to catholic apostolic music.

Theology of the Second Advent

Readiness for an expected immediate Second Coming of Christ was the central aim of the congregations; the restoration of perfect institutions by the Apostles was deemed necessary to prepare the whole church for this event. The doctrines of achievable personal holiness, attainable universal salvation, the true spiritual unity of all baptized persons, living and dead, in the 'Body of Christ', the possibility of rapture without dying, and the necessity of the fourfold ministry directed by Apostles for perfecting the Church as a whole, formed the cornerstones of the theology.

John S. Davenport explained their theology by saying that the changes which attend the Coming of the Lord will not be such as will attract the attention or the gaze of men.

The pending judgments, such as are announced by the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse – the political, ecclesiastical, and social changes which they involve, will seem to come about as ordinary events in human history, produced by the changes that were working in society.

The rising up of the Antichrist and his full revelation will appear as the outcome of changes of opinion that have been going on for a long time, and will be upon men before they are aware of it.

It is only they who are looking for the Lord's appearing, who have received with faith and reverence the warnings of the great event, who will recognize its tokens and not be taken by surprise.

Notable buildings

  • The Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury in Gordon Square, London: a massive Early-English neo-Gothic building constructed 1850–1854, designed by Raphael Brandon.
  • The Apostles' Chapel at Albury, Surrey: a Gothic Revival building in 15th century Gothic style, completed in 1840, designed by William MacIntosh Brookes.
  • Maida Avenue, Paddington, London: built 1891–1894, designed by John Loughborough Pearson.
  • Mansfield Place Church, Edinburgh ("the Scottish Sistine Chapel"): a Scottish neo-Romanseque building completed in 1885, designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. The building is notable for its remarkable ethereal murals (1890s) by Phoebe Anna Traquair, a leading light of the Arts and Crafts Movement. The building was vacated by the Catholic Apostolic Church in 1958. It is in the care of the Mansfield Traquair Trust. It is used as a performance venue and for other functions. Part of the premises serve as offices for the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations.

A 'Time of Silence'

All ministers in the church were ordained by an Apostle, or under delegated authority of an Apostle. Thus, following the death of the last of the Apostles, Francis Valentine Woodhouse, in 1901, the consensus of trustees, who administer the remaining assets, has been that no further ordinations are possible.[4] Over a long period surviving ministers died until, by the mid-20th century, no ordained ministers remained and the sacraments of the church could no longer be celebrated. Surviving followers could still meet for expected worship and prayer, but not with its elaborate liturgy that required ordained ministers. Adherents were encouraged to share in the public worship of catholic-mined Christian communities including many churches in the Church of England. The church entered its present "Time of Silence". Most of its buildings have been sold-off or leased. The central church of Christ the King, London was leased. The Apostles' Chapel at Albury was closed as mentioned above. During the 1980s the trustees refurbished and re-decorated the chapel at expense, presumably in readiness for the anticipated Return of the Lord.


  1. "Catholic Apostolic Church". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2007.
  2. "Edward Irving". Pentecostal Pioneers. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  3. Stockholmskällan: kvarteret Trasten (PDF) (survey documentation of the city block "Trasten" in Stockholm) (in Swedish), The City Museum of Stockholm.
  4. The church and Its Gordon Square Cathedral: the 'Irvingites' and the Catholic Apostolic Church by Manfred Henke

Further reading

  • Carter, Grayson (2001), Anglican Evangelicals. Protestant Secessions From the via media, c. 1800–1850, Oxford: OUP, ISBN 0-19-827008-9.
  • Davenport, Rowland A (1973), Albury Apostles, London.
  • Drummond, AL (1934), Edward Irving and his Circle, London.
  • Flegg, CG (1992), Gathered Under Apostles; A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church, Oxford, ISBN 0-19-826335-X.
  • Miller, Edward (2004) [London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1878], The History and Doctrines of Irvingism or of the so-called Catholic Apostolic Church, I (reprinted ed.), Elibron, ISBN 1-4021-1651-9, archived from the original (hardcover) on March 11, 2005, ISBN 1-4021-1653-5 (Vol. II).
  • Schröter, Johannes Albrecht (1998), Die katholisch-apostolischen Gemeinden in Deutschland und der Fall Geyer [The Catholic-Apostolic Church in Germany and the "Geyer" case] (2 ed.), Marburg, ISBN 3-8288-9014-8.
  • (2001), Bilder zur Geschichte der Katholisch-apostolischen Gemeinden [Images of The History of The Catholic Apostolic Church], Jena: Glaux Verlag Christine Jäger KG, ISBN 3-931743-42-X.
  • Shaw, PE (1946), The Catholic Apostolic Church, sometimes called Irvingite (A Historical Study), New York.


  • Albrecht, L (1955), The work of Apostles in the time of the end (2nd ed.).
  • Cardale, John Bate, The Church and Tabernacle.
  • , Readings on the Liturgy.
  • Norton, Robert, Restoration of Apostles and Prophets, London: Bosworth.
  • Francis Sitwell The Purpose of God in Creation and Redemption (6th ed., 1888)
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