Apostolic cessation

Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury, London

Church of Christ the King, Bloomsbury, London

The same walk across Bloomsbury that brought me to Mary Ward House also took me past Gordon Square, where stands the magnificent Church of Christ, Bloomsbury, built 1850-1854 by the sad, unsuccessful John Raphael Rodrigues Brandon (1817-1877) for the Catholic Apostolic Church, a nineteenth-century sect that pinned their faith on prophecy and the imminent expectation of the Second Coming.

Their beliefs were based on an interpretation of the Book of Revelation promoted by Edward Irving (1792-1834).  They were so convinced that the end of the world was nigh that their founding Apostles, appointed by prophecy from a range of existing Christian denominations, saw no need to plan a succession.

Consequently, when the last Apostle died in 1901 it became impossible to ordain further clergy, and after the last priest and deacon died, in 1971 and 1972 respectively, the Church’s elaborate liturgy ceased, and members of the church were encouraged to worship with other established congregations, while the Church itself entered a “Time of Silence”.

A schismatic group, the New Catholic Apostolic Church (established 1863), thrives with some eight million worshippers worldwide.

Brandon’s magnificent cruciform church, was designed as a miniature version of Westminster Abbey though lacking the westernmost two bays of the nave and the planned 300-foot spire.

Originally intended for a staff of sixty-four clergy to manage its elaborate ritual, the building remains in use.  It was a chaplaincy of the universities and colleges of the Anglican diocese of London from 1963 to 1994, and it now accommodates the Euston Church [http://eustonchurch.com] and a congregation of Forward in Faith [http://www.forwardinfaith.com/EnglishChapel.php].

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