A steadily growing flock is gently tended

Some people grow with the tasks they are assigned. And sometimes an entrusted assignment grows under the activity of a particular person. One of these people was District Apostle Hermann Dietrich Magney. He was born 140 years ago today.

It was the daughter of the later Apostle Heinrich Bornemann who had the dream: she saw her father planting a tree which grew quickly and bore a great deal of fruit. Hovering above the tree were an eagle and an angel, and a lion was resting at the foot of the tree. "Then it must be God's will for Dortmund to become an Apostle district." That was how Heinrich Bornemann explained the dream. However, it would still take nearly another three decades for these words to become reality.

Following the call

In that same year, a young man was ordained a Sub-deacon: Hermann Dietrich Magney, born 14 January 1875 near Iserlohn (Westphalia), as the second of five siblings. He became acquainted with the New Apostolic Church as a fourteen-year-old and was sealed two years later by Apostle Friedrich Menkhoff.

In 1898 Apostle Hermann Niehaus ordained the dedicated minister a Priest, and commissioned him to move to Dortmund to care for the small group of members living there at the time. Hermann Dietrich Magney heeded the call of God and built up his livelihood: he established a shoe repair shop, married, and became the father of seven children.

Growing with the congregatio

Under his activity, the congregation in Dortmund grew rapidly. In 1905 already, an independent Elder district had to be established for the area. And this district was placed under the care of a newly ordained District Elder: Hermann Dietrich Magney.

This project also grew under his activity. By 1923 the number of congregations and members had grown so much that the Dortmund region received its own Apostle, namely its previous District Elder. When Chief Apostle Niehaus retired in 1930, he transferred the entire district of Bielefeld to the care of a new District Apostle: the hitherto Apostle Magney.

"Tend the sheep of Christ gently"—such was the motto by which District Apostle Magney always worked. "Carry one another on hands of prayer," he appealed to the members. And the demand he placed on himself: "Carry, carry, and keep on carrying."

Between here and the beyond

It was under the ruins of a church building that District Apostle Magney met his death. In the night of 5 May 1943, bombers destroyed the church along with the adjacent residence. Six people lost their lives. "Just get the others out from under the rubble." Even these, his last words, were for the benefit of those entrusted to his care.

There once existed a picture of this ruined site, which especially moved Chief Apostle Hans Urwyler in his time. "You can still see the altar backdrop, and from one side to the other, a large arc remained intact," he described it nearly perfectly some 40 years later in Dortmund. He then went on to say what the picture represented to him: "This is the great bow of God's love that stretches from here into the beyond. And it is under this bow, on earth, that the altar stands."

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Andreas Rother, Alfred Krempf
14.03.2015