The Catholic Apostolic Body, or Irvingites


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Scope and Content

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.

Administrative / Biographical History

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.

The Catholic Apostolic Body, or Irvingites.

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.

Papers of Father Columba Graham Flegg relating to the Catholic Apostolic Church - Archives Hub

A pulpit on the left side as looking towards the altar would be provided for preaching: At the back of the nave near an entrance a font with a cover would be placed for baptisms. 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. For the service of the church a comprehensive book of liturgies and offices was provided by the apostles. The first impression dates from 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. 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. 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 s 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 s, the clergy of the Church of England were invited to come and see what had been set up, but this too remained fruitless. 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. 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 Communion would be distributed each day after morning prayer, though no consecration would be performed. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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 name was taken directly from the Apostles' Creed as belonging to all Christians and not designating something new.

Breadcrumb Trail

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 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 , 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 ,, in almost congregations worldwide, spread as follows: In , 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 s, 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. After the death of three apostles in 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. After this event another apostle was called in Germany in 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. Schwartz in this schism were excommunicated. This later became the New Apostolic Church. The person called to be an apostle later recanted and was accepted back into his original rank.

Aside from Irving, notable members include Thomas Carlyle , Baron Carlyle of Torthorwald — , who was given responsibility for northern Germany. This is not Thomas Carlyle the essayist — , although Irving knew both men. The immediate Second Coming of Christ was the central aim of the congregations; the restoration of perfect institutions by the Apostles was deemed necessary to preparation of 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.

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.


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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. All ministers in the Catholic Apostolic Church were ordained by an Apostle, or under delegated authority of an Apostle. Thus, following the death of the last of the original Apostles Francis Valentine Woodhouse in , no further ordinations were possible.

Surviving followers of the Catholic Apostolic Church could still meet for Worship and prayer, but they could not continue the elaborate Liturgy that required ordained ministers. Adherents were encouraged to share in the public Worship of other Christian bodies, such as the Church of England.

Many of the Catholic Apostolic buildings were sold-off or leased. The Apostles' Chapel at Albury, Surrey, was simply closed-up, un-used, but maintained. Indeed, during the s the Catholic Apostolic trustees refurbished and re-decorated the un-used chapel at Albury, at substantial expense, presumably in readiness for the anticipated Return of the Lord Jesus. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the movement associated with Edward Irving. For the other main claimant to be the apostolic church, see Eastern Orthodox Church. For the term meaning universal, see Catholic.

For a list of ideas or other organizations labeled Apostolic, see Apostolic disambiguation. The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. October Learn how and when to remove this template message.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Retrieved July 31, Retrieved from " https: Catholic Apostolic Church denominations Irvingism Religious organizations established in establishments in England Adventism Restorationism Christianity. There was a call, however, for liturgical expression of the fullness of the Church's witness. Thus elaborate and beautiful liturgical services were devised, to replace former forms of worship. A large number of clergy were required for each church, organised in four divisions, an 'angel' a role similar to that of a bishop , six elders, seven prophets and at least seven deacons.

A prophetically inspired decision not to replace apostles who died led to a schism in Germany and the eventual formation of a separate body known as 'The New Apostolic Church', which remains in existence today and had a membership of about 8 million worldwide in The deaths of the apostles as the years passed guaranteed the eventual demise of the main body, since they had reserved to themselves the authority to ordain to the traditional major orders: Thus, with the death of the one surviving apostle in , such ordinations ceased and services were curtailed.

The last angel died in and the last priest in All Catholic Apostolic sacramental ministrations therefore ceased from that time. The collection contains the following items used in research on the Catholic Apostolic Church:. By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted. Special conditions apply to photographs. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: There is some original material within the collection. The location of the original material of which there are copies is, in some cases, noted on the copies, or remains unknown. Reverend Columba Graham Flegg. Arrangement The collection contains the following items used in research on the Catholic Apostolic Church: Music, printed, lithographed, copied and manuscript from ; 2 box files of documents, papers, reprints and sermons; 4 lever arch files and 1 blue file of photocopies of articles from books etc.

Phil St Andrews , Stevenson Ph. D ; 2 microfilm theses; Catalogue of the books from the library of the late John William Lister in Dr William's Library, ; 12 document wallets containing printed pamphlets, photostat or photocopy articles, letters, manuscripts, notes, addresses and teaching or sermons, one containing a small amount of original teaching material 2 containing printed pamphlets passed to Rare Books for cataloguing ; 7 envelopes of choral music from the Catholic Apostolic Church in Edinburgh; Card Index box for bibliography of Catholic Apostolic Church.

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