Angklung sounds in a skyscraper
Cultural diversity is a hallmark of the District Church South-East Asia. And this applies to confirmation as well. How do they celebrate in Hong Kong, Indonesia, or the Philippines?
High above the ground, and probably closer to heaven than any other New Apostolic congregation in the world, is the place where Ivory and Ivana Lam celebrated their confirmation. The chapel is found on the 20th floor of a typical Hong Kong high-rise. District Apostle Urs Hebeisen had announced his visit to the congregation in Hong Kong on 10 April.
Multicultural and musical
The congregation is as multicultural as it is musical. Two femals choirs—one from the Philippines and one from Indonesia—enhanced the divine service. And even in Hong Kong they could not be without the angklung on this special day. The father of the confirmands, District Evangelist Illex Lam, expressed his gratitude by playing a song on his Erhu—a so-called Chinese violin—a two-stringed bowed musical instrument. And the two girls, true to their generation, sang a country song accompanied by guitar. Afterwards the congregation stayed together for a fellowship with sumptuous food.
Between Easter and Pentecost
Hong Kong is just one example of the diversity in the District Church of South-East Asia. The biggest cultural diversity is found in Indonesia and the Philippines, two countries in which about 800 girls and boys assumed the responsibility for their life of faith this year.
Divine services for confirmation can take place on any of the Sundays after Easter and before Pentecost—in accordance with the standards set by the international Church. Young men and women between the ages of 14 and 16 who are members of the Church are admitted to confirmation.
At minimum, a condensed course
While the Church in Indonesia has the manpower to follow a proper curriculum in preparation for confirmation, the congregations in some parts of the Philippines lack teachers. Some areas in Indonesia even hold so-called reflection nights for the confirmands and their parents on the evening before their confirmation.
To make up for possible deficits resulting from a lack of opportunity and teachers, confirmation camps are organized in the Philippines. These sessions last half a day and cover the most important topics: the vow, the creed, the vision and mission of the Church, and its core values and self-image are reviewed in detail.
Maturing with the preparations
In some areas, the Apostles set aside one Sunday for a combined service in which confirmation is celebrated. Celebrations after the divine service, such as a big family dinner, are not common, and neither is gift-giving. Here and there a congregation might organize a fellowship after the confirmation service.
And what is left of this day? A conscious and deliberate approach to their faith and a deeper relationship to God—Ivory and Ivana Lam from Hong Kong declare unanimously. And a wish, as formulated by Nadia Wahyuningtyas from Jakarta, who says that she wants to be active and joyful in her faith both “within the Church and in everyday life”.