A pathfinder on the way back to Jesus
After 34 years in ministry, the longest serving Apostle currently in ministry will take his retirement: Rudolf Kainz—a man of humbleness as well as clear words, filled with vision and initiative, but above all, well-practised in the love of Jesus—will be discharged from active ministry on 15 March in Schaffhausen.
It was when he served along during his last major divine service that his unassuming humbleness was best documented. “Anyone who carries the nature of Jesus within himself should at some point make the experience that others tell him, ‘You know something? That is just typical of Jesus!’” he stated during the Chief Apostle’s visit in Luxembourg in January 2015. “Now, if someone were to tell me, ‘That is just typical Kainz behaviour,’ I would have missed the mark.”
“Making it palatable to become like Jesus “
Rudolf Kainz was born on 25 December 1947 in Linz, Austria. “I grew up in a sheltered childhood home, and thus became familiar with all the things that comprise New Apostolic life already as a child.” After completing his schooling he studied business administration and psychology. As a civil servant in scientific research, he trained teachers for business academies.
He received his first ordained ministry—that of a Sub-deacon—in January 1968. Just thirteen years later, Chief Apostle Hans Urwyler ordained him an Apostle. “Bearing this office,” wrote Rudolf Kainz on one occasion, “means loving, serving, helping, and comforting. It means sacrificing one’s life for one’s neighbour, glorifying Jesus, and thereby making it ‘palatable’ for believing people to become like, and live as, Jesus.”
A pleasure to listen to, and a pleasure to read
There was hardly ever a divine service in which Apostle Kainz did not put the focus squarely on the example of Christ. And people were happy to listen to him speak: during his time in ministry he was called up to serve an impressive total of five times at the Pentecost divine service, the high feast of the New Apostolic Church.
Nor was there ever a written article in which Apostle Kainz failed to put the focus on the example of Christ: “There is another way, if we learn from Jesus” or “Back to Jesus”—these were just some sample titles of articles he wrote for the “Our Family” magazine. And people were happy to read his articles. So it was that the Bischoff Publishers approached him with the request that he write a book. The result—entitled “Hallowed be Your name”—is a collection of his reflections on the Lord’s Prayer.
Vision and openness
The Apostle’s letter he wrote in the year 2003—entitled “The work of God needs a renaissance”—caused quite a stir. Following up on a reference to this effect from a Chief Apostle service on Pentecost 2001, Rudolf Kainz established a Work Group in Austria and presented its first findings on how to revive certain values—a drive that did not necessarily suit everyone!
It was in this context that Apostle Kainz not only demonstrated his courage to speak in no uncertain terms, but also his vision, as we can clearly see in hindsight: in 2003 he posed the question of what our concept of church entailed. In 2011, the New Apostolic Church published its new concept of church, according to which we no longer see ourselves as the sole representative of the church of Christ, but rather as part of the church of Christ. In 2003 he posed questions about how members should coexist in their congregations. In 2007 the Church published its “Vision and Mission” statements, which describe the Church as a place “in which people feel at home”. In 2003 he posed the question of reconciliation in the face of conflicts that span the generations. In 2014 the New Apostolic Church and the United Apostolic Church signed a common Statement of Reconciliation.
For all his straightforwardness in matters of faith, Rudolf Kainz, the minister, always remained warm, loving, and humble. And so it is that the many personal tributes that will be paid on the occasion of his retirement will not necessarily please him…