District Apostle Noel Barnes: A man totally anchored in God’s work – “Fearless Barnes”, we thank you!

District Apostle Noel Barnes is currently the most senior district apostle in the world. On Sunday, 18th December 2016, Chief Apostle Jean Luc Schneider will place him into retirement, after having served for 30 years as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Noel Barnes comes from a long lineage of New Apostolic ancestry, as his great-grandfather was New Apostolic too.

It all began in 1907 when humble children of God in Cape Town told their postman, James Henry Barnes, about the New Apostolic doctrine. He was born in 1884. In 1909, Noel Barnes’s grandfather, his wife and children, were sealed. And it was the grandfather’s greatest wish that his father (the great-grandfather of Noel Barnes) —who was very ill at the time—would also turn to this doctrine and accept it. This would send the blessing back-wards as it were, and make it available to the generations before Grandfather James Barnes.

The wishes of the grandfather of District Apostle Barnes were fulfilled when Great-Grandfather Barnes was visited by three men—among them the later Bishop Hollander. Arriving at his bedside they were told, however, that he had gone into a deep coma. “Oh, no,” they exclaimed, “we have come to bring him testimony of the Lord’s work!” They prayed beside his bed, and sang a number of hymns; Great-Grandpa awoke from the coma and lived another three years in which time he became New Apostolic. He had thus become equipped for his confrontation with his ancestors in the eventuality of his entering the beyond.

Noel Barnes’ grandfather, James Henry Barnes; in the meantime had been working zealously in the cause of the Lord. He was ordained as a Bishop in 1935. At that time the apostle district in the Cape was divided into three bishop areas, led by the Bishops R.E. de Vries, Gaugusch and Barnes. Bishop Barnes was regarded as a pioneer of the New Apostolic Church in the Cape Peninsula. He was always very keen to conduct conversations on spiritual matters, and he was also very well disposed to technical progress and its advantages, also in the furtherance of the Church. In 1944 Bishop Barnes retired. From then on he attended the services in the Zonnebloem congregation, then known as Virginia Street. He died in 1966. He had three daughters and three sons.

One of these sons was Aubrey, the father of District Apostle Barnes. He had the good fortune, to have been born into a New Apostolic family. Aubrey Barnes carried various ministries. Until 1974 he was District Elder in Athlone, Silvertown, Garden Village and in Somerset West. Then he was sent by District Apostle Karl Gut to Durban, Natal. He came to the Pietermaritzburg East and Saunders Road districts. The districts in Natal province were restructured by District Apostle Rissik Kitching, and Aubrey Barnes found himself in a new district, in Wentworth. After his ministerial period of some 49 years—thirty as District Elder—he retired in July 1983.

Aubrey Barnes was a schoolteacher for 40 years and the conditions under which he started his profession were not easy. At one stage he was offered a teaching position if he would renounce his faith! Naturally, he could not do such a thing. Being ostracized for one’s faith makes life difficult. He had to take a job as a shop assistant at a much lower salary. He was there for seven years before he could again practice his profession. One day a customer, whom he had often assisted, visited a service which he, then a Priest, held. She was so astounded by what came from this man, whom she knew only as a humble shop assistant, that she wanted to know more about the New Apostolic faith. She became acquainted with the New Apostolic community and a little while later she and her family were sealed in the New Apostolic Church.

Noel Edward Barnes was born on 24 December 1949 in Cape Town, Athlone, the youngest of four children, and sealed on 9 July 1950 by Apostle De Vries. In 1969 he married Hazel Smith. The marriage was blessed with three daughters and one son. Noel Barnes worked for an international oil company in the Department of Finance and Sales. Until his appointment to the pastoral ministry he devoted his time mainly to the promotion of music in the New Apostolic Church. In 2001 his wife died. In August 2003, he married again.


  • 1969/02/23               Sub-Deacon
  • 1971/01/30                 Deacon
  • 1973/04/04                 Priest
  • 1981/11/15                 Shepherd
  • 1982/05/16                 District Evangelist
  • 1984/08/12                 Bishop
  • 1986/06/22                 Apostle
  • 1996/15/12                 District Apostle

During 1999, District Apostle Noel Barnes was commissioned by Chief Apostle Richard Fehr to support the Lord’s work in Mainland China. During this period, substantial contacts were made with the Chinese Ministry of Religious Affairs, the South African Ministry of Foreign and International Relations as well as the Presidency.


District Apostle Barnes with a Chinese Government official in Beijing, China

District Apostle Barnes’s passion and love for music and choir development led him to authorize numerous music exchanges between China and South Africa. This resulted in the choirs of the New Apostolic Church Cape District visiting China, to perform for the benefit of Chinese audiences as well as Government officials in Beijing, China. In addition, various networks between China and South Africa were established and are currently in place. The continued interaction between Chinese and South Africans, resulted in the Chinese government giving approval for Foreign New Apostolic Church members to conduct divine services and host music concerts in China. Over the past seventeen (17) years, since 1999, contact has been maintained with the Chinese networks by New Apostolic Christians, who are currently living in China.

Globalization has resulted in many of the members who used to be cared for by District Apostle Noel Barnes, being spread all over the world. They can be found in countries like China, Japan, Australia, Dubai, Germany, USA, Spain, England, New Zealand, etc.  As New Apostolic Christians here in China, and as part of the legacy of District Apostle Barnes, we reflect upon the many gems and blessings we have been privileged to receive from such an incredible servant of God. District Apostle Barnes’s firm and resolute works of faith and love are evident in all the members that he has cared for. Not only in the congregations in South Africa but everywhere in the world where his members moved to. For this reason, District Apostle Barnes’s contribution to the Lord’s work has not only benefited South Africa, but all countries where these members have been allowed to practice their faith in UNITY with the local population, especially countries like Australia, New Zealand and those in the Middle-East.

District Apostle Barnes is known as a humble but strong servant of God and has left an indelible mark on the hearts of God’s children worldwide. With his ordination as district apostle, Noel Barnes expressed the desire that he wanted to lead “a Happy Bride” home! We are sure that his retirement will not stop the zeal and vigor for God’s work and pray that our Heavenly Father blesses him abundantly with everything that he needs for his soul salvation and worthiness!

We, the New Apostolic Christians in China (NACIC), pay tribute to such a humble and great servant of God and wish him, and his beloved wife, well in his retirement.

Thank you, “FEARLESS“ Barnes! We salute you and will continue to remember you in prayer!

-S –

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