Catholic Apostolic Church

Last updated

Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury, which belongs to the trustees of the Catholic Apostolic Church London July 2015-8.jpg
Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury, which belongs to the trustees of the Catholic Apostolic Church

The Catholic Apostolic Church (CAC), also known as the Irvingian Church, is a Christian denomination and Protestant sect [1] which originated in Scotland around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States. [2] The tradition to which the Catholic Apostolic Church belongs is sometimes referred to as Irvingism or the Irvingian movement after Edward Irving (1792–1834), a clergyman of the Church of Scotland credited with organising the movement.


The church was organised in 1835 with the fourfold ministry of "apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastors". [3]

As a result of schism within the Catholic Apostolic Church, other Irvingian Christian denominations emerged, including the Old Apostolic Church, New Apostolic Church, Reformed Old Apostolic Church and United Apostolic Church; of these, the New Apostolic Church is the largest Irvingian Christian denomination today, with 16 million members. [4] [5]

Irvingism teaches three sacraments: Baptism, Holy Communion and Holy Sealing. [6] [7]


Edward Irving

Edward Irving, also a minister in the Church of Scotland, preached in his church at Regent Square in London on the speedy return of Jesus Christ and the real substance of his human nature.[ citation needed ]

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 the forerunner and prophet of the coming dispensation, not the founder of a new sect; and indeed the only connection which Irving seems to have had with the Catholic Apostolic Church was in fostering spiritual persons who had been driven out of other congregations for the exercise of their spiritual gifts. [8]

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), he restarted meetings in a hired hall in London, and much of his original congregation followed him. Having been expelled from the Church of Scotland, Irving took to preaching in the open air in Islington, until a new church was built for him and his followers in Duncan Street, Islington, funded by Duncan Mackenzie of Barnsbury, a former elder of Irving's London church. [9]

Shortly after Irving's trial and deposition (1831), certain persons were, at some meetings held for prayer, designated as “called to be apostles of the Lord” by certain others claiming prophetic gifts. [8]

Naming of the apostles

In the year 1835, six months after Irving's death, six other people were similarly designated as “called” to complete the number of the “twelve,” who were then formally “separated,” by the pastors of the local congregations to which they belonged, to their higher office in the universal church on 14 July 1835. This separation 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 blessing and intercession on behalf of it.” The twelve were afterwards guided to ordain others—twelve prophets, twelve evangelists, and twelve pastors, “sharing equally with them the one Catholic Episcopate,” and also seven deacons for administering the temporal affairs of the church catholic. [8]

The names of those twelve 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.[ citation needed ]

Structure and ministries

Each congregation was presided over by its “angel” or bishop (who ranks as angel-pastor in the Universal Church); under him are four-and-twenty priests, divided into the four ministries of “elders, prophets, evangelists and pastors,” and with these are the deacons, seven of whom regulate the temporal affairs of the church—besides whom there are also “sub-deacons, acolytes, singers, and door-keepers.” The understanding is that each elder, with his co-presbyters and deacons, shall have charge of 500 adult communicants in his district; but this has been but partially carried into practice. This is the full constitution of each particular church or congregation as founded by the “restored apostles,” each local church thus “reflecting in its government the government of the church catholic by the angel or high priest Jesus Christ, and His forty-eight presbyters in their fourfold ministry (in which apostles and elders always rank first), and under these the deacons of the church catholic.” [8]

The priesthood is supported by tithes; it being deemed a duty on the part of all members of the church who receive yearly incomes to offer a tithe of their increase every week, besides the free-will offering for the support of the place of worship, and for the relief of distress. Each local church sends “a tithe of its tithes” to the “Temple,” by which the ministers of the Universal Church are supported and its administrative expenses defrayed; by these offerings, too, the needs of poorer churches are supplied. [8]

Liturgy and forms of worship

Sources of forms of worship

For the service of the church a comprehensive book of liturgies and offices was provided by the "apostles." It dates from 1842 and is based on the Anglican, Roman and Greek liturgies. Lights, incense, vestments, holy water, chrism, and other adjuncts of worship are in constant use. In 1911, the ceremonial in its completeness could be seen in the church in Gordon Square, London and elsewhere. [8]

The daily worship consists of "matins" with "proposition" (or exposition) of the sacrament at 6 a.m., prayers at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., and "vespers" with "proposition" at 5 p.m. On all Sundays and holy days there is a “solemn celebration of the eucharist” at the high altar; on Sundays this is at 10 a.m. On other days "low celebrations" are held in the side-chapels, which with the chancel in all churches correctly built after apostolic directions are separated or marked off from the nave by open screens with gates. The community has always laid great stress on symbolism, and in the eucharist, while rejecting both transubstantiation and consubstantiation, holds strongly to a real (mystical) presence. It emphasizes also the "phenomena" of Christian experience and deems miracle and mystery to be of the essence of a spirit-filled church. [8]

The services were published as The Liturgy and other Divine Offices of the Church. 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.

The Eucharist, being the memorial sacrifice of Christ, is the central service. The Irvingian Churches teach the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, though they rejected what they saw as the philosophical explanations of the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation as well as Lollardist doctrine of consubstantiation. [10]

Some of the music in the Catholic Apostolic Church is composed by Edmund Hart Turpin, former secretary of the Royal College of Organists.

Special services


Irvingism teaches three sacraments: Baptism, Holy Communion and Holy Sealing. [6] [7]

Prophecy and spiritual gifts

Number of congregations and members

In 1911, the CAC claimed to have among its clergy many of the Roman, Anglican and other churches, the orders of those ordained by Greek, Roman and Anglican bishops being recognized by it with the simple confirmation of an "apostolic act." The community had not changed in 1911 in general constitution or doctrine. At the time, it did not publish statistics, and its growth during late years before 1911 is said to have been more marked in the United States and in certain European countries, such as Germany, than in Great Britain. There are nine congregations enumerated in The Religious Life of London (1904). [8]

The former Catholic Apostolic church in Stockholm, Sweden, built in 1889-90. Since the 1970s, it has served as a Greek Orthodox church. Sankt Georgios grekisk-ortodoxa metropolitkyrka, Stockholm.jpg
The former Catholic Apostolic church in Stockholm, Sweden, built in 1889–90. Since the 1970s, it has served as a Greek Orthodox church.

In the 21st century, of the principal CAC buildings in London, the Catholic Apostolic cathedral, in Gordon Square, survives and has been let for other religious purposes.

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 CAC music.[ citation needed ]

New Apostolic Church

Scheme of several Apostolic churches inside and outside the Netherlands from 1830 until 2005. Click on the image to enlarge. Apostolic.JPG
Scheme of several Apostolic churches inside and outside the Netherlands from 1830 until 2005. Click on the image to enlarge.

After the death of three apostles in 1855 the apostolate declared that there was no reason to call new apostles. Two callings of substitutes 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 F .W. Schwartz, 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.[ citation needed ]

Notable buildings

Former Catholic Apostolic Church, Albury Park, Surrey Former Catholic Apostolic Church, Albury Park, Albury (March 2014) (3).JPG
Former Catholic Apostolic Church, Albury Park, Surrey

Shortage of holy order

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. [12]


A collection of papers related to the Catholic Apostolic Church, compiled by the Cousland family of Glasgow, is held at the Cadbury Research Library, University of Birmingham. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eucharist</span> Christian rite observed by consuming bread and wine

The Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion and the Lord's Supper, is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during a Passover meal, he commanded them to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the blood of my covenant, which is poured out for many".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holy orders</span> Sacraments in some Christian churches

In certain Christian denominations, holy orders are the ordained ministries of bishop, priest (presbyter), and deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Divine Liturgy</span> Rite practiced in Eastern Christian traditions

Divine Liturgy or Holy Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine Rite, developed from the Antiochene Rite of Christian liturgy which is that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox, the Greek Catholic Churches, and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Although the same term is sometimes applied in English to the Eucharistic service of Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, they use in their own language a term meaning "holy offering" or "holy sacrifice". Other churches also treat "Divine Liturgy" simply as one of many names that can be used, but it is not their normal term.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ordination</span> Process by which individuals are consecrated as clergy

Ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart and elevated from the laity class to the clergy, who are thus then authorized to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination vary by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is undergoing the process of ordination is sometimes called an ordinand. The liturgy used at an ordination is sometimes referred to as an ordination.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Confirmation</span> Christian religious practice

In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism, confirmation is seen as the sealing of the covenant created in baptism. Those being confirmed are known as confirmands. For adults, it is an affirmation of belief. It involves laying on of hands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Epiclesis</span> Christian Eucharistic prayer

The epiclesis refers to the invocation of one or several gods. In ancient Greek religion, the epiclesis was the epithet used as the surname given to a deity in religious contexts. The term was borrowed into the Christian tradition, where it designates the part of the Anaphora by which the priest invokes the Holy Spirit upon the Eucharistic bread and wine in some Christian churches. In most Eastern Christian traditions, the Epiclesis comes after the Anamnesis ; in the Western Rite it usually precedes. In the historic practice of the Western Christian Churches, the consecration is effected at the Words of Institution though during the rise of the Liturgical Movement, many denominations introduced an explicit epiclesis in their liturgies.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New Apostolic Church</span> Church that split from the Catholic Apostolic Church

The New Apostolic Church (NAC) is a Christian church that split from the Catholic Apostolic Church during an 1863 schism in Hamburg, Germany.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Restored Apostolic Mission Church</span>

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. By 1969-1971 it had divided into three sections.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Apostolic Church (1916 denomination)</span> Pentecostal Christian denomination

The Apostolic Church is a Christian denomination and Pentecostal movement that emerged from the Welsh Revival of 1904–1905. Although the movement began in the United Kingdom, the largest national Apostolic Church is now the Apostolic Church Nigeria. The term "Apostolic" refers to the role of apostles in the denomination's church government, as well as a desire to emulate 1st century Christianity in its faith, practices, and government.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anaphora (liturgy)</span> Part of liturgy

The Anaphora is the most solemn part of the Divine Liturgy, or the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a thanksgiving prayer by virtue of which the offerings of bread and wine are believed to be consecrated as the body and blood of Christ. This is the usual name for this part of the Liturgy in Greek-speaking Eastern Christianity. In the Eastern Syriac tradition Qudaša is its equivalent. The corresponding part in western Christian liturgy is nowadays most often called the Eucharistic Prayer. The Roman Rite from the 4th century until after Vatican II had a single such prayer, called the Canon of the Mass.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Anglican sacraments</span>

In keeping with its prevailing self-identity as a via media or "middle path" of Western Christianity, Anglican sacramental theology expresses elements in keeping with its status as a church in the catholic tradition and a church of the Reformation. With respect to sacramental theology the Catholic tradition is perhaps most strongly asserted in the importance Anglicanism places on the sacraments as a means of grace, sanctification and forgiveness as expressed in the church's liturgy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mass in the Catholic Church</span> Central liturgical ritual of the Catholic Church

The Mass is the central liturgical service of the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, in which bread and wine are consecrated and become the body and blood of Christ. As defined by the Church at the Council of Trent, in the Mass "the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, is present and offered in an unbloody manner". The Church describes the Mass as the "source and summit of the Christian life", and teaches that the Mass is a sacrifice, in which the sacramental bread and wine, through consecration by an ordained priest, become the sacrificial body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ as the sacrifice on Calvary made truly present once again on the altar. The Catholic Church permits only baptised members in the state of grace to receive Christ in the Eucharist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Divine Service (Lutheran)</span> Lutheran liturgy

The Divine Service is a title given to the Eucharistic liturgy as used in the various Lutheran churches. It has its roots in the Pre-Tridentine Mass as revised by Martin Luther in his Formula missae of 1523 and his Deutsche Messe of 1526. It was further developed through the Kirchenordnungen of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that followed in Luther's tradition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Holy orders in the Catholic Church</span> Ordination of clergy in the Roman Catholic Church

The sacrament of holy orders in the Catholic Church includes three orders: bishops, priests, and deacons, in decreasing order of rank, collectively comprising the clergy. In the phrase "holy orders", the word "holy" means "set apart for a sacred purpose". The word "order" designates an established civil body or corporation with a hierarchy, and ordination means legal incorporation into an order. In context, therefore, a group with a hierarchical structure that is set apart for ministry in the Church.

John Bate Cardale (1802–1877) was an English religious leader, the first apostle of the Catholic Apostolic Church.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Priesthood in the Catholic Church</span> One of the three ordained holy orders of the Catholic Church

The priesthood is the office of the ministers of religion, who have been commissioned ("ordained") with the Holy orders of the Catholic Church. Technically, bishops are a priestly order as well; however, in layman's terms priest refers only to presbyters and pastors. The church's doctrine also sometimes refers to all baptised (lay) members as the "common priesthood", which can be confused with the ministerial priesthood of the consecrated clergy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of the Catholic Church</span>

This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church. Some terms used in everyday English have a different meaning in the context of the Catholic faith, including brother, confession, confirmation, exemption, faithful, father, ordinary, religious, sister, venerable, and vow.

The Liturgy of the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions is a complete text of the Christian Divine Liturgy and found in the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions. It is the oldest known form that can be described as a complete liturgy and can be dated to the second half of the 4th century. It belongs to the Antiochene Rite.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liturgy of Addai and Mari</span> Eucharist liturgy in East Syriac Rite

The Liturgy of Addai and Mari is the Eucharistic liturgy belonging to the East Syriac Rite and was historically used in the Church of the East of the Sasanian (Persian) Empire. This liturgy is traditionally attributed to Saint Addai and Saint Mari. It is currently in regular use in the Assyrian Church of the East of Iraq, the Ancient Church of the East of Iraq, the Syro-Malabar Church of India, and the Chaldean Catholic Church of Iraq. The latter two are Eastern Catholic churches in full communion with the Holy See of Rome.

Edward Wilton Eddis was a poet and prophet in the Catholic Apostolic Church at Westminster, London and co-author of the Hymns for the Use of the Churches, the hymnal of the Catholic Apostolic Church.


  1. "Protestantism - The spread of missions | Britannica". Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  2. "Catholic Apostolic Church". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2007.
  3. Cannon, John (May 21, 2009). A Dictionary of British History. Oxford University Press. p. 127. ISBN   978-0-19-955037-1.
  4. Nyika, Felix Chimera (2008). Restore the Primitive Church Once More: A Survey of Post Reformation Christian Restorationism. Kachere Series. p. 14. In the 1990s the New Apostolic Church had almost 300 apostles with 60,000 congregations comprising 16 million members globally.
  5. Kuligin, Victor (2005). "The New Apostolic Church" (PDF). Africa Journal of Evangelical Theology. 24 (1): 1–18. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 11, 2014.
  6. 1 2 Whalen, William Joseph (1981). Minority Religions in America. Alba House. p. 104. ISBN   978-0-8189-0413-4.
  7. 1 2 Decisions of the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) Federal Republic of Germany. Nomos. 1992. p. 6. ISBN   978-3-8329-2132-3.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Catholic Apostolic Church, The"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 533.
  9. "Islington: Protestant nonconformity Pages 101-115 A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985". British History Online. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  10. Bennett, David Malcolm (November 4, 2014). Edward Irving Reconsidered: The Man, His Controversies, and the Pentecostal Movement. Wipf and Stock Publishers. p. 292. ISBN   978-1-62564-865-5.
  11. Kvarter Trasten-Trädgårdsmästaren (PDF) (survey documentation of the city block "Trasten" in Stockholm) (in Swedish), The City Museum of Stockholm, p. 216
  12. "The church and Its Gordon Square Cathedral: the 'Irvingites' and the Catholic Apostolic Church" by Manfred Henke
  13. "UoB Calmview5: Search results". Retrieved April 15, 2021.

Further reading