Wednesday, September 17, 2014  | 
The Apostolic Church in Italy

ItalyThe first known contact of the Apostolic Church in Italy seems to have been in 1909 when a British man, baptized with the Holy Spirit, visited Florence and preached on the Baptism by Fire. Two faithful believers were baptized and the Lord started to move through them- and then through other new converts. By 1921 there were a few followers in Civitavecchia and then in Rome.

In 1926 the British Apostolic Missionary Committee commenced contact with the workers in Italy. By Feb.1927, there was also an Apostolic group in Grosseto (Tuscany); this was growing and by 1929 Ps. A. del Rosso (from Civitavecchia) asked for a co-worker, Ps George Evans was sent out. Ps. G. Evans and his wife were stationed in Grosseto, Ps. A. del Rosso moved to the work in Rome, Montalcino and Naples. Construction of a church building commenced in Grosseto in 1929, dedicated in 1930.

In 1933 Ps. William Roger Thomas was sent, by the Apostolic Church, from Swansea, Wales, Great Britain, to Grosseto, Italy. WRT was born on 26.7.09, in Plasmarl, Swansea. He was one of 9 children. His mum Rachel, was a faithful member in the Apostolic church in the Swansea area. It was through his mum that WRT came to know the Lord. By the time he was 20 years old he was active for the Lord on a full-time basis in an evangelistic band; they would travel around Britain opening new Apostolic groups. At 23 years old he was called prophetically to go to Italy. He left the UK in Jan.1933, and went to live in Grosseto, initially as a guest of Ps. G. Evans. He immediately set to work to learn the Italian language. In three months, with God's help, he was preaching in Italian.

In 1934 Ps G. Evans and his wife left Italy to work elsewhere. WRT then went to live in Civitavecchia for a few months, after that he moved back to Grosseto to work in the Apostolic church there. The Lord blessed. Soon a Marshal of the Carabinieri (Guido Ulivagnoli) was saved. On 27.7.1935 Ps A. del Rosso was obliged by the Italian authorities to write to WRT to order him to close the Apostolic church in Grosseto, and to use the building only as a personal study office. Fascism was getting stronger, opposition to Evangelical Christian work had grown stronger between 1934 and 1937, and soon both WRT and Guido Ulivagnoli, who by now was a dedicated Pastor, had been insulted, called spies, spat at, and had been arrested several times – later released for lack of any blame - other than preaching Christ. Within that period some local people collected a petition to close the church and succeeded. There was also a prophecy at that time: the Lord said,” Those who have done this have prepared their own end with their own hands.” Within six months from then there were three important funerals in the city, all three persons had been involved in the closure of our church in Grosseto. The church members still met secretly for worship in each other's homes. At this time the group in Grosseto became separated from the one in Civitavecchia.

At the end of 1936 WRT had been called back to Britain, he married the girl he had loved since before going out to Italy in 1933, and went back to Grosseto with Lillian in early 1937. Church meetings were still being held in the members homes. One night in May 1940, through a prophecy by a church member called Corinna, WRT was told: “I am telling you, my servant Thomas; go home, prepare your suitcases and return to your own country, I will bring you back here in the future, but it will not be forever.” He obeyed by faith. By now they had two little girls (Valeria Lillian, and Violetta Soave G.). They made a few quick arrangements for the things they had to leave behind and left Ps. Guido Ulivagnoli in charge of the assembly, they packed some things and took the next train towards the northern Italian border. By midday the Fascist Police were at our home in Grosseto to arrest them. The Lord had protected His own! They were stopped in Ventimiglia, and told they wouldn't be allowed to proceed out of the country because of the commencing war, and because they had British passports; if they had not been able to get out they would have been interned and the little girls placed in an orphanage. They went back as far as Verona for the night, and they prayed. They following morning they tried to pass the Border again. This time there was a different guard on duty, he said, “I'm not supposed to let you pass through, but I have little children myself, go on quickly!” They thanked God as they walked through the part of “no-man's land” and out of Italy. They travelled by train to Paris, God had arranged for the son of the British Consul in Paris to be in their same compartment, he took them as guests to his home, Lillian said it was great to be able to bath the children for the first time in three days! Eventually they reached Callais, but more difficulties arose and they had to travel down the coast and stay the night before finding a boat crossing to Britain. By the grace of God they got through safely.

During the war WRT served as a Pastor in Blackburn, where his twin daughters (Joan Rachel, and Beryl Elizabeth) were born, then he volunteered to cover a vacant pastorate in Dover, near the English channel, for two months, he stayed there for six months. Dover was being heavily bombed everyday, life there was very stressful. God protected him and the church members through those difficult months. We then moved to another Apostolic church in Ebbw Vale. At the end of the war WRT went back to Grosseto to prepare for the transfer of his family back to Italy. It was 1946, he went to Civitavecchia to try to find the church members. He was given a jeep and military driver, probably because he had on his visiting card the words: “Correspondent of the Apostolic Herald.” They must have thought he was a war journalist. On one of his postcards he wrote, “There is much destruction, one cannot recognize the roads.” In Grosseto the Apostolic group had been in the good care of Ps. Ulivagnoli, and under God's protection. On one occasion at Easter in 1944, a prophetic word had encouraged the church members to go out into the countryside to praise the Lord. While they were away Grosseto was heavily bombed leaving many dead. The church was preserved. The little pedal, collapsible organ had been wrapped in tarpaulin and buried in a member's garden in Poggione. When the Alliance Forces reached Grosseto in 1944, the church was re-opened, the organ was brought back and put to use once again to praise the Lord. Eventually in 1948, WRT brought his family back to Italy. A fifth baby was born in February 1949, a son, William John. It was a cold winter, we had no proper heating. He died on his sixth day and was buried in the Grosseto cemetery. The Lord had told WRT that he would have a son who would serve the Lord in Italy. A few years passed before Andrew was born in 1952. In 1948 a new group was opened in “Casermone” near Grosseto, this was an abandoned military settlement, many of the people who had lost their homes in the bombing had settled there. In the group there was a man: Tobia Ciampelli, his wife Nerina was ill with tuberculosis. After prayer God miraculously healed Nerina and many of the people living there came to know the Lord – leaving their previous local church empty. In a short time the Apostolic members in the area went from 200 to 400. The newly saved members spread the seed and the church grew to what it is today. The local authorities still opposed the church for some time, but after a while they realized that the people were becoming more peaceful so they didn't oppose as much as previously. Soon there were Apostolic groups in
Roccastrada, Arcidosso, Castiglione della Pescaia, Batignano, Ribolla, Montepescali Scalo, Torniella, Montecatini Terme, Pistoia, Le Grazie, Sticcianese, Campagnatico, Matera, and many, many more by today in 2008.

While this work was spreading, there were also contacts from the very north to the south of Italy, in Sicily, and as the Bible teaching was becoming solid in all the groups, WRT moved from Grosseto to Rome where he would be more centrally placed. While he was living in Rome, he decided to write books that would explain the Biblical doctrines that would be of use to any growing Bible based church. He then wrote “The Paraclete”, on the Holy Spirit,
“The Emmanuel”, on the Lord Jesus, our Saviour, “On Ephesians”, and many more.

Click HERE for more information on these books.

ItalyThe first known contact of the Apostolic Church in Italy seems to have been in 1909 when a British man, baptized with the Holy Spirit, visited Florence and preached on the Baptism by Fire. Two faithful believers were baptized and the Lord started to move through them- and then through other new converts. By 1921 there were a few followers in Civitavecchia and then in Rome.

In 1926 the British Apostolic Missionary Committee commenced contact with the workers in Italy. By Feb.1927, there was also an Apostolic group in Grosseto (Tuscany); this was growing and by 1929 Ps. A. del Rosso (from Civitavecchia) asked for a co-worker, Ps George Evans was sent out. Ps. G. Evans and his wife were stationed in Grosseto, Ps. A. del Rosso moved to the work in Rome, Montalcino and Naples. Construction of a church building commenced in Grosseto in 1929, dedicated in 1930.

In 1933 Ps. William Roger Thomas was sent, by the Apostolic Church, from Swansea, Wales, Great Britain, to Grosseto, Italy. WRT was born on 26.7.09, in Plasmarl, Swansea. He was one of 9 children. His mum Rachel, was a faithful member in the Apostolic church in the Swansea area. It was through his mum that WRT came to know the Lord. By the time he was 20 years old he was active for the Lord on a full-time basis in an evangelistic band; they would travel around Britain opening new Apostolic groups. At 23 years old he was called prophetically to go to Italy. He left the UK in Jan.1933, and went to live in Grosseto, initially as a guest of Ps. G. Evans. He immediately set to work to learn the Italian language. In three months, with God's help, he was preaching in Italian.

In 1934 Ps G. Evans and his wife left Italy to work elsewhere. WRT then went to live in Civitavecchia for a few months, after that he moved back to Grosseto to work in the Apostolic church there. The Lord blessed. Soon a Marshal of the Carabinieri (Guido Ulivagnoli) was saved. On 27.7.1935 Ps A. del Rosso was obliged by the Italian authorities to write to WRT to order him to close the Apostolic church in Grosseto, and to use the building only as a personal study office. Fascism was getting stronger, opposition to Evangelical Christian work had grown stronger between 1934 and 1937, and soon both WRT and Guido Ulivagnoli, who by now was a dedicated Pastor, had been insulted, called spies, spat at, and had been arrested several times – later released for lack of any blame - other than preaching Christ. Within that period some local people collected a petition to close the church and succeeded. There was also a prophecy at that time: the Lord said,” Those who have done this have prepared their own end with their own hands.” Within six months from then there were three important funerals in the city, all three persons had been involved in the closure of our church in Grosseto. The church members still met secretly for worship in each other's homes. At this time the group in Grosseto became separated from the one in Civitavecchia.

At the end of 1936 WRT had been called back to Britain, he married the girl he had loved since before going out to Italy in 1933, and went back to Grosseto with Lillian in early 1937. Church meetings were still being held in the members homes. One night in May 1940, through a prophecy by a church member called Corinna, WRT was told: “I am telling you, my servant Thomas; go home, prepare your suitcases and return to your own country, I will bring you back here in the future, but it will not be forever.” He obeyed by faith. By now they had two little girls (Valeria Lillian, and Violetta Soave G.). They made a few quick arrangements for the things they had to leave behind and left Ps. Guido Ulivagnoli in charge of the assembly, they packed some things and took the next train towards the northern Italian border. By midday the Fascist Police were at our home in Grosseto to arrest them. The Lord had protected His own! They were stopped in Ventimiglia, and told they wouldn't be allowed to proceed out of the country because of the commencing war, and because they had British passports; if they had not been able to get out they would have been interned and the little girls placed in an orphanage. They went back as far as Verona for the night, and they prayed. They following morning they tried to pass the Border again. This time there was a different guard on duty, he said, “I'm not supposed to let you pass through, but I have little children myself, go on quickly!” They thanked God as they walked through the part of “no-man's land” and out of Italy. They travelled by train to Paris, God had arranged for the son of the British Consul in Paris to be in their same compartment, he took them as guests to his home, Lillian said it was great to be able to bath the children for the first time in three days! Eventually they reached Callais, but more difficulties arose and they had to travel down the coast and stay the night before finding a boat crossing to Britain. By the grace of God they got through safely.

During the war WRT served as a Pastor in Blackburn, where his twin daughters (Joan Rachel, and Beryl Elizabeth) were born, then he volunteered to cover a vacant pastorate in Dover, near the English channel, for two months, he stayed there for six months. Dover was being heavily bombed everyday, life there was very stressful. God protected him and the church members through those difficult months. We then moved to another Apostolic church in Ebbw Vale. At the end of the war WRT went back to Grosseto to prepare for the transfer of his family back to Italy. It was 1946, he went to Civitavecchia to try to find the church members. He was given a jeep and military driver, probably because he had on his visiting card the words: “Correspondent of the Apostolic Herald.” They must have thought he was a war journalist. On one of his postcards he wrote, “There is much destruction, one cannot recognize the roads.” In Grosseto the Apostolic group had been in the good care of Ps. Ulivagnoli, and under God's protection. On one occasion at Easter in 1944, a prophetic word had encouraged the church members to go out into the countryside to praise the Lord. While they were away Grosseto was heavily bombed leaving many dead. The church was preserved. The little pedal, collapsible organ had been wrapped in tarpaulin and buried in a member's garden in Poggione. When the Alliance Forces reached Grosseto in 1944, the church was re-opened, the organ was brought back and put to use once again to praise the Lord. Eventually in 1948, WRT brought his family back to Italy. A fifth baby was born in February 1949, a son, William John. It was a cold winter, we had no proper heating. He died on his sixth day and was buried in the Grosseto cemetery. The Lord had told WRT that he would have a son who would serve the Lord in Italy. A few years passed before Andrew was born in 1952. In 1948 a new group was opened in “Casermone” near Grosseto, this was an abandoned military settlement, many of the people who had lost their homes in the bombing had settled there. In the group there was a man: Tobia Ciampelli, his wife Nerina was ill with tuberculosis. After prayer God miraculously healed Nerina and many of the people living there came to know the Lord – leaving their previous local church empty. In a short time the Apostolic members in the area went from 200 to 400. The newly saved members spread the seed and the church grew to what it is today. The local authorities still opposed the church for some time, but after a while they realized that the people were becoming more peaceful so they didn't oppose as much as previously. Soon there were Apostolic groups in
Roccastrada, Arcidosso, Castiglione della Pescaia, Batignano, Ribolla, Montepescali Scalo, Torniella, Montecatini Terme, Pistoia, Le Grazie, Sticcianese, Campagnatico, Matera, and many, many more by today in 2008.

While this work was spreading, there were also contacts from the very north to the south of Italy, in Sicily, and as the Bible teaching was becoming solid in all the groups, WRT moved from Grosseto to Rome where he would be more centrally placed. While he was living in Rome, he decided to write books that would explain the Biblical doctrines that would be of use to any growing Bible based church. He then wrote “The Paraclete”, on the Holy Spirit,
“The Emmanuel”, on the Lord Jesus, our Saviour, “On Ephesians”, and many more.

Click HERE for more information on these books.

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