Apostolic Church (denomination)

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This article is about the Christian Church denomination formed in 1916. For the wider meanings of Apostolic Church within Christianity, see Christian Church. For other denominations of a similar name, see Apostolic Church.
The Apostolic Church
Apostolic Church Logo.JPG
Logo of the Apostolic Church (in the UK)
Classification Protestant
Orientation Evangelical; Pentecostal
Origin 1916
Ammanford, Wales
Members 6,000,000 (1999)

The Apostolic Church is a Pentecostal Christian denomination which can trace its origins back to the 1904–1905 Welsh Revival. Despite the relatively recent origin of the denomination, the church seeks to stand for first-century Christianity in its faith, practices, and government.[1]

The purpose of the denomination is summed up by one prominent Apostolic writer as:

"to make known world-wide the forgiveness of sins through the atoning death of Christ; the baptism in water by immersion; the baptism of the Holy Ghost with signs following; the nine gifts of the Holy Ghost; the five gifts of our Ascended Lord; and the vision referred to in the New Testament as 'the Church which is His Body'."[1]

The worldwide vision of the church is evidenced by a strong missionary concern. The movement, which commenced in Welsh-speaking villages of south Wales had, by the end of the 20th century, grown to over six million members in more than 70 nations.[2] The largest national church is the Apostolic Church of Nigeria, with over 4.5 million members and a national convention centre that seats over 100,000.[3]

Church history[edit]

The Apostolic Temple, Pen-y-groes
The Apostolic Church School of Ministry, Pen-y-groes

On 5 November 1909, William Oliver Hutchinson started a Pentecostal Church in Britain at the Emmanuel Mission Hall in Bournemouth in Dorset. It soon became the headquarters of a large network of Pentecostal assemblies, known as Apostolic Faith Church.

Rev Daniel Powell Williams[4] became an Apostle in the rebirth of the movement.[which?] On 8 January 1916, Williams and a number of the Welsh assemblies broke away creating the Apostolic Church in Wales (ACW).[5] Since 1916, the two groups have developed along very different doctrinal paths.

In 1917 a second group centred on Birmingham affiliated to the ACW. The following year the Burning Bush Pentecostal Congregation in Glasgow,[5] came into co-operation with the ACW but remained independent. In the same year, a group using the name "Apostolic Church" in Hereford also came into co-operation with the ACW.[5]

In 1920 Ben Fisher, who was the leader of an independent Pentecostal congregation in Belfast, N.Ireland, invited Williams to minister in his church. The group then affiliated to the ACW becoming their first mission field.

H V Chanter was the leader of the Apostolic Church of God (ACG); a large group of Pentecostal congregations headquartered in Bradford. During 1921, Chanter attended the Christmas convention of the ACW in Pen-y-groes, Carmarthenshire. A prophetic word given in Bradford directed the leaders to invite the Welsh leaders to join them for a meeting. They met 1922, with another wider meeting arranged for Easter. At the Easter convention, leaders from most of the ACW congregations and those affiliated with them met in Bradford.

The 1922 Easter meeting in Bradford was the beginning of the Apostolic Church.[citation needed] Four main groups attended: the Apostolic Church in Wales; the Burning Bush congregation; the Apostolic Church in Hereford; and the Apostolic Church of God. A prophetic word directed them to form administrative union: Pen-y-groes was to be the administrative center; Glasgow, the financial center; and Bradford the missionary center.

Theology[edit]

The Apostolic Church is Trinitarian in its theology (and so is not part of the Oneness Pentecostal Movement which also often uses the term Apostolic Church).

It holds to the Protestant position that justification is by grace alone through faith alone. The soteriology of the Apostolic Church is neither uniformly Reformed nor Arminian. Ecclesiology has taken a prominent place in the theology of the movement. The Church is defined as the Body of Christ and the headship of Christ is given prominence. Christ is seen to express his headship through the ascension ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is the central feature of Apostolic worship and was interpreted by the early leaders of the movement according to the Calvinistic doctrine of the spiritual presence.[6]

Its theological beliefs are summarised in its confession of faith, known as the Tenets, which read as follows:[7]

  1. The one true and living God who eternally exists in three persons in unity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  2. The inherent corruptness of man through the Fall; The necessity of repentance and regeneration by grace and through faith in Christ alone and the eternal separation from God of the finally unrepentant.
  3. The Virgin birth, sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, ascension and continuing intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ; His second coming and millennial reign upon earth.
  4. The Justification and sanctification of believers through the finished work of Christ.
  5. The baptism of the Holy spirit for believers with supernatural signs, empowering the church for its mission in the world.
  6. The gifts of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church and ministry to the world.
  7. The Sacraments of Baptism by immersion and of the Lord's Supper
  8. The divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures.
  9. Christ's leadership of the Church through apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons, for unity, maturity and growth of the church.
  10. The security of the believer as he remains in Christ
  11. The privilege and responsibility of bringing tithes and offerings to the Lord.

The Constitution of the Apostolic Church in the UK states that "These Tenets shall forever be the doctrinal standard of the Apostolic Church and shall not be subject to change in any way whatsoever."[8]

The Apostolic Church in Australia, ACTS Churches in New Zealand, and Ascension Fellowships International in America, all go by a revised set of tenets. The addition of "the resurrection of the believer in an incorruptible body" was a clarification of the Apostolic position due to a theological controversy in New Zealand. The change in order reflects an order more commonly used in evangelical churches.[9]

  1. The one true and living God who eternally exists in three persons in unity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
  2. The Divine inspiration and authority of the Holy Scripture.
  3. The original perfection of creation; the inherent corruptness of humanity through the Fall; the necessity of repentance and regeneration by grace and through faith in Christ alone, and the eternal separation from God of the finally unrepentant.
  4. The virgin Birth, sinless life atoning death, triumphant Resurrection, ascension and continuing intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ, His Second Coming, and eternal Kingdom reign.
  5. The justification and sanctification of believers through the finished work of Christ, their security as they remain in Him, and their future resurrection in an incorruptible body.
  6. The Ordinance of Baptism by immersion, and of the Lord's Supper.
  7. The baptism of the Holy Spirit for believers with supernatural signs, empowering the Church for its mission in the world.
  8. The gifts of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church and ministry to the world.
  9. Christ's leadership of the Church through the ascension ministries of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, for the unity, maturity and growth of the Church.

Annual conference[edit]

Ablaze UK (formerly The International Apostolic Convention) has taken place annually over the first week in August since 1916. Until 2002 it was at Pen-y-groes, Carmarthenshire. From 2003 to 2011 it was held in Swansea, and from 2012 it takes place in Cheltenham.

Colleges[edit]

Pen-y-groes is the site of the Apostolic Church School of Ministry (founded as the Apostolic Church International Bible School in 1933),[10] the oldest Pentecostal college in Great Britain. The College is currently closed and the facilities are now being used by a Korean Church as a Bible College. It has also been used as a rehab centre for Teen Challenge.

There are now also Bible Schools in eleven other countries.[11]

Equippers Network[edit]

Equippers forms a significant network of churches within ACTS Churches NZ (formerly the Apostolic Church Movement of New Zealand). The group is global with individual churches in Germany, New Zealand, Tonga and United Kingdom. The network comes under the Apostleship of Bruce & Helen Monk.

Hymnal[edit]

In the past the standard hymnal of the Apostolic Church has been the Redemption Hymnal.

Ministers[edit]

  • Rev Robert West, founder of the Christian Council of Britain claimed to have been ordained by the church, following completion of his studies at the Church's Pen-y-groes training college.[12] However, the Apostolic Church has expressed no knowledge of Robert West, and has strongly distanced itself from his views.[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Turnbull, Thomas Napier (1959). What God Hath Wrought: A Short History of the Apostolic Church. Bradford: The Puritan Press. p. 11. 
  2. ^ Weeks, Gordon (2003). Chapter Thirty Two: Part of a History of the Apostolic Church 1900–2000. p. 227. 
  3. ^ http://www.thechristiancentre.org.uk/appohist
  4. ^ http://wbo.llgc.org.uk/en/s2-WILL-POW-1882.html
  5. ^ a b c Kay, William K. (2002). "Apostolic Church". In Stanley M. Burgess. The new international dictionary of Pentecostal and charismatic movements. (Rev. and expanded ed.). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House. pp. 322–323. ISBN 0310224810. 
  6. ^ Jonathan Black, 'The Church as Eucharistic Fellowship: A British Apostolic Contribution toward a Pentecostal Ecclesiology', Journal of the European Pentecostal Theological Association, Vol. xxix, No. 2, pp. 78–89
  7. ^ Constitution of the Apostolic Church, 4th Edition (May 2002; Amended May 2008), Chapter 2
  8. ^ Constitution of the Apostolic Church, p.8
  9. ^ http://www.actschurches.com/statement-of-belief/
  10. ^ Weeks, Gordon (2003). Chapter Thirty Two: Part of a History of the Apostolic Church 1900–2000. p. 140. 
  11. ^ Weeks, Gordon (2003). Chapter Thirty Two: Part of a History of the Apostolic Church 1900–2000. p. 228. 
  12. ^ James, Stuart (26 July 2009). "The British National Party (BNP) candidate styles himself as Rev.". Echurch blog. Gloucestershire, United Kingdom: Stuart James. Retrieved 12 April 2012. I can confirm that I was ordained by the Vice President of the Apostolic Church denomination (Rev Williams) as an elder (presbyter) in November 1979 in the presence of the Supervisory Minister (Rev Jack Harris) and in the face of my congregation; the ceremony being held in my first chapel. I subsequently served there as the pastor, having attended the Apostolic Church's Bible College in Penygroes, where they now have a BNP Councillor. At Penygroes I did the two-year course which was crashed into one year. During that pastorate my theology changed to that of Calvinism and I have since then done a lot of ministry amongst the fragmented free churches, where there is little formal hierarchy. These have included the Baptist Union, the Grace Baptists, the Methodist Church, the Church of England, and one Rural Ministries Church, as well as, my own Grace Covenant Fellowship which, until recently, held regular services. 
  13. ^ Bartley, Jonathan (n.d.). "Does any church claim 'Rev' Robert West?". Jonathan Bartley's blog. Ekklesia. Retrieved 12 April 2012. A spokesperson for the [Apostolic] church said; "If this person has had any association with The Apostolic Church in the past the only means by which he can maintain either his membership or office is by attending one of our churches. If he were an active member of the Church his views would not be accepted by the Church and disciplinary action would be undertaken by the Church which strongly distances itself from views such as these." 

External links[edit]