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New Jerusalem, Church of the

New Jerusalem, Church of the, or New Church, religious body instituted by the followers of Emanuel Swedenborg, who are generally called Swedenborgians. Knowledge of Swedenborg's teachings was spread in England largely by two clergymen, Thomas Hartley and John Clowes, and a printer, Robert Hindmarsh. The first public services of an organized congregation were held (1788) in London. In 1789 a general conference met. In the United States, Swedenborg's teachings were introduced (1784) by James Glen, member of a London society. A New Church society was formed (1792) in Baltimore, and in 1817 a general convention of the New Jerusalem in the United States of America was organized. In polity it is a modified episcopacy, with each society enjoying great freedom in administering its own affairs. A general convention is held annually. The teachings of the church stress individual self-realization through study of Swedenborg's interpretation of the Scriptures. In 1890 a number of members broke their connection with the general convention to form a separate organization, which in 1897 took the name "General Church of the New Jerusalem." This body regarded Swedenborg's theological writings as "the very Word of the Lord revealed at his second coming."

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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