Old Apostolic Church

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The Old Apostolic Church (OAC) is a church with roots in the Catholic Apostolic Church.


The Old Apostolic Church's roots are found in the Catholic Apostolic Church that was established in 1832 as an outflow of the Albury Movement.[1][pages needed]

Establishment in Africa[edit]

The founder of the Apostolic Church in South Africa, Carl George Klibbe, was born on 24 December 1852 in Pomerania at the Baltic Sea and was a preacher in the Lutheran Church when he had contact with the Apostolic doctrine in a town named Schladen in Germany where he met Heinrich Niemeyer for the first time. It was years later in 1886, after Klibbe moved to Hatton Vale in Queensland, Australia, that he and his family were convinced of this doctrine and sealed by the same person Apostle H. F. Niemeyer.[2][3]

In 1889, Evangelist Carl George Klibbe arrived in South Africa to begin mission work for The Apostolic Church. He was ordained Apostle in 1893 by Apostle H.F. Niemeyer of Australia with the mission from the Apostolate to establish an African branch of the church. At that time the office of Chief Apostle was not yet established and each Apostle functioned independently from one other.

The church was officially registered on 7 December 1910 in terms of the Companies Act of the Transvaal (1909) as The New Apostolic Church (Africa), with Carl George Klibbe as Apostle and Leader, with ultimate authority over the church.

The head office of the church was moved in 1910 from the farm iMvani in the Eastern Cape to Regents Park, Johannesburg.


In 1895, both of the longest-serving apostles, F. W. Schwartz and F. W. Menkhoff, died. A day after Schwartz' death, Fritz Krebs declared himself as the chief apostle and Unity Father. The Dutch church then declared independence from the German branch in 1897. This was followed by a breakaway by some German congregations under Elder Julius Fischer who formed the Apostelampt Juda.

In 1905, Krebs died and was succeeded by Herman Niehaus, whom Krebs had appointed. Niehaus began to rid the German church of all opposing apostles and to sideline foreign apostles.

Apostle H. F. Niemeyer separated himself from the German branch of the church and founded the Apostolic Church of Queensland in 1912.

The South African branch also severed all contact with the German branch and was founded on the same principles as its counterpart the Apostolic Church of Queensland by Apostle Klibbe.

The Old Apostolic Church gave the following reasons for separation from the New Apostolic Church:[citation needed]

  • Niehaus' ban on prophetic gifts (visions, dreams, and prophecies),
  • Niehaus' refusal to appoint Prophets,
  • establishment of the office of Chief Apostle,
  • personality cult that formed around the Chief Apostle, and
  • The rise of German nationalism within the German Church in the lead up to the First World War.

Klibbe's teaching brought him in conflict with the concept of the office and views of the Chief Apostle in the church. Niehaus tried to remove Klibbe from office. Wilhelm Schlaphoff was appointed as counter-apostle by Niehaus. In 1913 Niehaus informed Klibbe that he was excommunicated from the New Apostolic Church, although the South African branch was independent and reaffirmed that independence with a change in the Acts of Association of the church in 1915. For some time, there were two conflicting organizations in South Africa using the name New Apostolic Church; the registered church under the leadership of Klibbe ("The New Apostolic Church") and a breakaway group under the counter-Apostle Schlaphoff ("New Apostolic Church").

In 1926, a settlement were reached between the two churches. The church that was established in 1892 and formally registered in 1910 would change its name to "The Old Apostolic Church" so that Schlaphoff could register the "New Apostolic Church (Africa)".

OAC after Apostle Klibbe[edit]

At the time of Klibbe's death on 22 May 1931, The Old Apostolic Church had more than 1 million adherents. Apostles Ernest Fredrick Willhelm Ninow, Carl Fredrick Willhelm Ninow and William Campbell were appointed by Klibbe as his successors before he died, with EFW Ninow as the Chairman and Leader of the church.[4][5]

Establishment of the OAC in Europe, Australasia, North America and the Middle East[edit]

On 17 August 1997, the first church service was conducted in London. Elder Redman from Cape Town was on a visit to his family when members requested that he conduct a service. This was followed on 2 November 1997 when Apostle GF Campbell held a service where Priest Booyens was ordained as the first priest for the British Isles.

On 25 December 1997, Apostle GJJ Boshoff ordained CWP Human as the first priest for Australia. On 1 January 1998, Human and his family arrived in Brisbane to re-establish the church in Australia.

On 1 August 1999, the first service was held in New Zealand by Priest Sammons.

On 4 June 2000, Brothers Sampson and Ponelis was ordained in Chicago, Illinois as the Priests for Chicago and Minneapolis respectively.

In July to August 2000, the British Isles was visited by Apostles DB Nieuwenhuizen and MM Massinga where Priest Booyens was ordained as Elder and Brothers Burger and Tocknell as Priests.

On 12 November 2000, Priest Ronald Looij was ordained in Potchefstroom as Elder for the Netherlands and Belgium.

In mid-2006 four Apostles (Ingolf Schultz, Jorg Stohwasser, Uwe Jacob and Hans-Georg Richter) and their followers from the German church Apostelamt Jesu Christi joined The Old Apostolic Church. In the beginning of 2007, this German branch of the OAC was registered as Altapostolische Kirch e.v. (Deutschland).[6]

For some years, a relationship was maintained with the German Apostelamt Jesu Christi (AJC), a church with similar views. This relationship was broken when four AJC Apostles and several congregations formed the German branch of The Old Apostolic Church in 2006.

At present, The Old Apostolic Church is estimated to have around 2 million members in Africa. Congregations can be found in South Africa, Eswatini, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, USA, Canada, British Isles, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. The Old Apostolic Church is independent from the New Apostolic Church and the United Apostolic Church,[7] and is not part of the South African Council of Churches or the World Council of Churches, and refuses to become members of these organisations.

Schisms from the OAC[edit]

The following groups broke away from The Old Apostolic Church:



The Old Apostolic Church is a free church. It is intrinsically separated from government (as opposed to a theocracy, or an "established" or state church). The Old Apostolic Church does not define government policy, nor have governments define church policy or theology, nor seek or receive government endorsement or funding for its general mission.

Members of the Old Apostolic Church are not allowed to become registered members of any political parties, stand for election, or openly declare their political views. The OAC do not support any political parties. Members are however allowed to vote according to their conscience.[14]

Officers are strictly forbidden to endorse any political party and may be removed from office if they do endorse any party.[15]

Members must obey all laws of the countries in which they reside, even if the member is to suffer anguish.[16]

The leadership of the Old Apostolic Church did make some submissions to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa), and was the only Apostolic (Irvingist) Church to do so. This submission was not an admission of guilt, and the Church was not accused or found guilty of contravening any laws or international laws. The church policy stipulates that all assistance will be given to government as required by law.[14] The Church has given assistance to the Independent Electoral Commission to provide voting points. This assistance was given only due to the IEC being a State Agency or Department, and not a political entity.

The Old Apostolic Church's view on non-participation in politics has led to three schisms.

  • In 1972 several coloured members formed the Reformed Old Apostolic Church,
  • In 1968 several black members formed the Twelve Apostles Church of Africa.
  • In 1990, VN Vika formed the Foundation of Apostles and Prophets Church after he was expelled for openly endorsing the African National Congress, and inviting them to hold meetings within church property.


The Old Apostolic Church recognises and uses the Authorised King James Version. All Bibles used must be comparable to the Authorised King James Version.[14] The Afrikaanse Ou Vertaling (Hersiene Uitgawe) is used in Afrikaans-speaking congregations. In Germany the 1912 Luther Bible is used.[17]

Before the introduction of the first Bible in Afrikaans in 1933, the Dutch Bible was used mostly among Afrikaans-speaking members.

The Old Apostolic Church Confession of Faith extracts: We believe in the Holy Scriptures, the Old and the New Testament, and in the fulfillment of the promises contained therein[18]

Bibles in use[edit]

The following Bible translations are officially sanctioned by the Conference of Apostles for use in the church:

  • Afrikaans: Bybel in Afrikaans (1933–1957)
  • English: King James Version (1611)
  • English: New King James Version (Thomas Nelson – 1983)
  • Dutch: Staten Generaal (1618 and 1619)
  • German: The Bible in German - Bible text translation by Martin Luther - (1912 and 1984 Revision)
  • Portuguese: The Bible in Portuguese (A Biblia Sagrada; Contendo O Vehlo EO Novo Testamento) 1100 Lisbon, Portugal
  • Sepedi: The Bible in Northern Sotho (1951 and 1986)
  • Sesotho: The Bible in Southern Sotho (Biblele E Halalelang, 1961 and 1983)
  • Setswana: The Bible in Tswana (Baebele E E Boitshepo, 1908–1992)
  • Xitsonga: The Bible in Xitsonga (Bibele Yi NEA; Testamente Ya Khale Ni Le'yint_ha 1929–1987)
  • Xhosa: The Bible in Xhosa (Incwadi Yezibhalo Ezingcwele, 1971)
  • Zulu: The Bible in Zulu (First SA Edition, 1977)

All other Bible translations in other languages may be used, with the permission of the local Forum of Apostles if it compares with the Authorised King James Version.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the novel Roepman by Jan van Tonder and the Afrikaans movie with the same name, Salmon, Erika's boyfriend is an "Old Apostle", and this is a cause of friction between Erika and her father who is a staunch member of the Dutch Reformed Church.[20]


  1. ^ Flegg, Columba Graham (1992). 'Gathered Under Apostles': A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church. Clarendon Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198263357.001.0001.
  2. ^ "A Brief History and Profile of our Church". Apostolic Church of Queensland. Retrieved 19 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Some history things ..." (PDF). Unity Apostles Church of New Zealand. November 2016. pp. 4–7. Retrieved 20 October 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ The Old Apostolic Church: History of the Western Cape District[full citation needed]
  5. ^ Church History of The Old Apostolic Church for the Sunday School[full citation needed]
  6. ^ "+ NAKtuelle News & Termine (Update: 03.12.2013) + (3)". F3.webmart.de. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  7. ^ "Home Page". Oldapostolic.com. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  8. ^ "History". Archived from the original on 5 May 2010. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Martin, Harry. I Tell You The Truth[full citation needed]
  11. ^ The Old Apostolic Church of South Africa v Non-White Old Apostolic Church of Africa 1975 (2) SA 684 (C) at 687 D-E. 4.
  12. ^ Church History of The Old Apostolic Church for Sunday School
  13. ^ "» Our History". Inkonzoyesiseko.co.za. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Old Apostolic Church: Household Rules
  15. ^ Household Rules: 9.7
  16. ^ Old Apostolic Church: Confession of Faith
  17. ^ Old Apostolic Church, Constitution.
  18. ^ The Old Apostolic Church Confession of Faith
  19. ^ Household Rules of the Old Apostolic Church: 9.9
  20. ^ Roepman. Jan van Tonder. Human & Rousseau. ISBN 9780798155342


External links[edit]