Our denomination was founded in the early 1830's by Samuel Froehlich, a former vicar in the Swiss Reformed Church.
While Froehlich was at the University of Zurich, and later in seminary at the University of Basel, he was swept away by the prevailing rationalistic and liberal philosophies of the professors. His heart became hardened. Yet, the Holy Spirit worked on him through the good example of some true Christian acquaintances. In 1825, he surrendered his life to Jesus, repented of his sins and was born again.
This created a dilemma.
As his faith and understanding of the Bible grew, he increasingly found himself at odds with the state church. He was still wrestling with this when he was ordained, and then assigned, to his first congregation as vicar. His passionate preaching about the need to be born again created a great awakening in his congregation at Leutwil, and spread to neighboring Swiss villages, much to the displeasure of state church authorities.
Despite reprimand from state church leaders, Froehlich would not compromise his biblical convictions. One of the last straws was his rejection of infant baptism. The state church dismissed him in 1831.
Soon thereafter, as led by the Lord, Froehlich began preaching throughout Switzerland and other parts of Europe, drawing souls hungry for the life-changing truths of repentance and conversion through Jesus Christ.
During his missionary journeys, Froehlich associated with Mennonites and other believers who had separated from the state church. Anabaptist beliefs influenced Froehlich’s positions, particularly on military service.
Within 35 years of Froehlich’s first missionary journey, despite intense persecutions, there were 110 congregations throughout Europe where the church was known as Evangelical Baptist.
The faith arrived in America in 1847 and eventually became known here as the Apostolic Christian Church.
Our American beginning was by invitation from a group in another denomination in upstate New York, who wrote to Froehlich asking for help in settling some spiritual disputes. Froehlich commissioned a gifted young elder, Benedict Weyeneth, to make the journey.
Weyeneth’s arrival set off a spark that grew to a blaze. A great number of the people who received him responded to his message of new birth and left to join Froehlich’s church, creating the first base of Apostolic Christian congregations in the U.S.
From there, the church spread further inland, following first river and then railroad routes as members sought out economic opportunity, primarily in the form of available farmland. This resulted in many congregations being established in the fertile Midwest. As immigrants came from Europe (mostly from the Froehlich churches) and new converts were added in the United States, the church flourished. The believers were zealous in living and spreading the Word in America.
From the 1920's on, most of the new churches formed in America were founded in metropolitan areas. This was because many of the church's offspring sought occupational opportunities outside of farming. Thus, today the Apostolic Christian Church consists of a blend of city and rural congregations.
While we recognize Froehlich's work in our founding, we do not give him undue honor. He simply was an instrument God used at that time and place, to preach the Truth. All glory goes to God.