Apostolic Christian Church


Apostolic Christian Church

The Apostolic Christian Church is a religious body in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Japan that originates from the Anabaptist movement.

History

The origins of the Apostolic Christian Church are found in the dramatic conversion experience of Samuel Heinrich Froehlich ["Handbook of Denominations", by Frank S. Mead, Samuel S. Hill, and Craig D. Atwood] (1803-1857) of Switzerland. Froehlich was baptized in 1832 and soon founded the "Evangelical Baptist Church." The first American church was formed in Lewis County, New York in 1847 by Benedict Weyeneth (1819-1887), who had been sent by Froehlich at the request of Joseph Virkler, a Lewis County Mennonite farmer. In 1848 a church was formed in Sardis, Ohio. The church experienced primary growth in the midwest. Though sometimes referred to as the "New Amish", these believers generally called themselves "Evangelical Baptist". In 1917, the church adopted a uniform name - "Apostolic Christian Church".

Though similar in name, the Apostolic Christian Church is not affiliated with the Pentecostal Apostolic Church denomination.

Branches

There are currently at least three main divisions of this church in America. In the early 1900s a disagreement arose over the practice of some European customs (Namely, the wearing of a mustache) and the church split into two bodies (from 1901 to 1911). The change from the use of the German language to the English language in worship services initiated a second schism in 1932.
*The Apostolic Christian Church of America has about 94 congregations in 23 states, including 2 churches in Canada, 4 in Mexico, and 2 in Japan. The total number of members is approximately 13,000. This church has a national Missionary Committee, a World Relief program, a Work Projects program, ten nursing homes for the elderly, a Home for the Handicapped in Morton, Illinois, and a Children's Home in Leo, Indiana. ["Marching to Zion: A History of the Apostolic Christian Church of America", by Perry Klopfenstein]
*The Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarene) has 50 congregations in the United States, with 2756 members, 14 congregations in Canada with about 850 members, 6 congregations in Australia with roughly 200 members, 16 congregations in Argentina with about 1200 members or so, as well as congragations in Brazil and Mexico. They have mission work in New Guinea, Argentina, Paraguay, and Africa. Though the minority of the split, this body remained in fellowship with the European churches. There is also a small congregation of Nazareans in Israel.
*The "German Apostolic Christian Church" has around 8 or 10 churches in Illinois, Kansas, and Oregon with approximately 500 members. There is no recent documentation on this body.
**The "Christian Apostolic Church" was the result of a 1955 schism from the "German Apostolic Christian Church." ["Profiles in Belief: the Religious Bodies in the United States and Canada (Vol. II)", by Arthur Carl Piepkorn] ["Religious Congregations & Membership in the United States, 2000", Glenmary Research Center]

The European bodies have also faced divisions. Although once united throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland, there are now two sides. During the 1980s members were pushing for more liberties, which resulted in a vast majority of churches leaving the more conservative congregations. They formed their own branch and adopted the name "Evangelische Täufergemeinden". They currently have churches in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France. The small fraction that stayed call themselves "Gemeinde Evangelische Taufgesinnter (Nazarener)" with churches in Germany and Austria and about 400 members. The latter maintain strong ties with the rest of the Nazarene congregations.

The remainder of Europe is made up of independent congregations in communion:
*"Nazarenes" - in Sweden, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia
**In Hungary their official name is "Krisztusban Hívő Nazarénusok Gyülekezete" (Congregation of Nazarenes Believing in Christ)

Religious practices

Members seek to obey the Bible, the infallible Word of God. The King James Version of the Bible is the official translation and is used in church services, bible school, and bible studies. Other translations are permitted in personal study, although use of the King James Version is strongly encouraged.

Salvation is obtained by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. A formal conversion process exists within the Apostolic Christian Church. A regular attendee who is not a member is informally referred to as a "friend of the church" or a "friend". The conversion process includes repentance for one's sins, making restitution and confessing sins to God and an Elder of the Church. New converts give a public testimony before baptism, telling the story of one's personal conversion experience. Some Apostolic Christian Churches practice private/closed testimony and public baptism services. Converts typically wear white for the water immersion baptism service and publicly promise to serve God. After the baptism service, there is a laying on of hands (baptism of the Holy Spirit) service performed by church Elders and members joining in prayer.

Worship, doctrine, biblical practices and tradition

Worship

*The King James Version of the Bible is the primary translation used for church services.

*Worship services are held on Sunday while various churches also conduct additional mid-week services.
*Sunday services vary between churches but typically include:
**Public worship service in the morning and afternoon
**Congregational singing
**Churches that are equipped with kitchen facilities typically serve a public lunch during a fellowship hour between Sunday services
**Seating arrangements are not standard between all churches. The predominate arrangement is having separate seating for men and women, depending on the local church practice and the occasion.

*Some congregations conduct Bible studies and classes as part of the routine church schedule. In addition, some local fellowships have outside study groups and classes among members. There is no standard format across all churches.

*Informal attire and modesty are the standard dress code. In the Apostolic Christian Church of America and the Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarean), members are highly discouraged from wearing jewelry, including wedding bands.

*Female members ("sisters") are sometimes expected to wear a Christian headcovering during prayer and worship.

*Within the Apostolic Christian Church of America, singing is a cappella. The Apostolic Christian Churches (Nazarean) often include instrumental accompaniment. The "Zion's Harfe/Harp" is an example of a hymnal used during worship services.

Doctrine

*Church doctrine focuses on Arminianism theology where salvation can be lost and is conditional upon one's faith. [cite web |url=http://www.apostolicchristian.org/faith_statement.php |title=ACC of America Statement of Faith (point #19)] [cite web |url=http://accfoundation.org/statementoffaith.htm |title=ACC Nazarean Statement of Faith (point #16)]

Biblical practices and tradition

*Communion is served throughout the year, most often near Easter. Services are for members only following a period of self-examination, repentance and restitution for sins prior to the service. Communion service includes the blessing and sharing of bread & fruit of the vine (wine or grape juice).

*The Holy Kiss is a traditional greeting used in most Apostolic Christian churches, but it is a fading practice.

*Members who take permanent leave of their local fellowship are encouraged to take membership and continue worshipping with other churches within the denomination.

*Intrareligious marriage and intrafaith marriage is encouraged for all members. In the Apostolic Christian Church of America and the Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarean), dating is not allowed.

*Non-combatant military service, if required. Similar to the Mennonite faith.

*Members object to the taking and swearing of an oath, based on Christ's teachings.

Leadership

*The leadership of an Apostolic Christian church typically consists of the Elder Body and one or more local Elders. Ministers are also considered a part of church leadership.

Elder

*Elders are ordained after much prayer by the local congregation. They are usually selected from the current Ministers serving in the local church. Elders perform both religious rites and also conduct ministerial duties.
*Each individual church has its own elder(s) or if no local elder exists, a "serving" elder from another Apostolic Christian church.
*Elders are ordained locally and serve as volunteers.
**The Elders of each church serve as equal members within the collective "Elder Body" of all elders who make decisions regarding the doctrine of the church-at-large, in accordance with the Bible and the Holy Spirit.

Elder Body

*There are regular meetings of the Elder body where all of the Elders gather together in order to form a more unified whole.

Deacons and Ministers

*Serve as assistants to the elders.
*Ordained locally and serve as volunteers.

External links

* [http://www.apostolicdoctrine.com/ Apostolic Doctrine]
* [http://www.apostolicchristian.org/ Apostolic Christian Church of America]
* [http://www.acorn.net/aacc/ Akron Area Apostolic Christian Church (Nazarean)]
* [http://www.acc-richmond.org/ Apostolic Christian Church of Richmond, VA (Nazarean)]
* [http://www.wclacc.org/ Apostolic Christian Church of Woodcliff Lake, NJ (Nazarean)]
* [http://www.ocfchurch.org/ Ontario Christian Fellowship of Ontario, Ohio (Nazarean)]
* [http://www.pasadenaapostolic.org/ Apostolic Christian Church of Pasadena, California (Nazarean)]
* [http://www.accfoundation.org/ Apostolic Christian Church Foundation (Nazarean)]
* [http://www.accm.org/ Apostolic Christian Church Foundation Missions (Nazarean)]
* [http://www.accmbc.org/ Apostolic Christian Church Mission Board of Canada (Nazarean)]
* [http://etg.ch/ Evangelische Täufergemeinden] - official Web Site "in German"
* [http://www.blufftonyg.com/] - Bluffton Young Group's Website

References

Footnote

# "Froehlich" is for all intents and purposes an anglicization of "Fröhlich", although use of "oe" (or a similar digraph with a smaller "e" atop the "o") to denote the same sound actually predates the use of the umlaut in written German.


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