Making music, preaching, and training—with joy
What moves through the heart of the longest-serving Apostle as he looks back over his life—more than half of which he spent in this ministry—just before his retirement? What does he remember when he thinks back on his musical activities and his active missionary work? Answers from an interview with Apostle Rudolf Kainz.
How did you spend your childhood? Where did you go to school and work?
I come from Linz. My father served as a District Elder in the Linz district for over 30 years. My mother was born in Germany, a Braunschweig, and I grew up in a sheltered parental home. From childhood on I was thus familiar with all the things that comprise New Apostolic life. I attended elementary and secondary school and began my studies in business administration at the University of Linz in 1966. After one or two years I changed my major to psychology. Then I spent one year at the business academy in Wels as a teacher for various subjects in the area of economics. Following that I spent some time as a Teaching Assistant at the University of Linz and finally ended up training business academy teachers as a research officer. On 1 January 1981 I was ordained to the Apostle ministry and entered into the full-time employment of the Church.
You have made a lot of Church music in your time. What was your inspiration?
I am a musical layman. In my fifth year of life, I began to take recorder lessons, and two years later, I started taking piano lessons. Starting in my fourteenth year, I had the opportunity to play the harmonium in the congregation of Linz. Every now and again I was also permitted to play the organ for large events, like when the District Apostle or Chief Apostle would hold divine services in the Brucknerhaus in Linz or at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Beginning in my fifteenth year, I served as the youth choir leader. And two or three years later, I was also the choir leader for the congregation of Linz. After that, I even led the district choir. Well, we always tried to make the best of the circumstances and gifts we had available to us.
You were also a song writer?
In Switzerland in 1987/1988 there was a music group called "Hymns and Choirs". And this group, which had been established by Chief Apostle Urwyler, had been assigned the mandate of producing a new hymn book for young people. This red book is still in use under the title "Choir folder 2". We assembled many, many hymns of various different genres and sources, only the majority of the texts were impossible to use. So then the thought came up: "Well, who would like to try his hand as a poet?" In response I tried my best, and so it was that one or the other new text came into being for this "Choir folder 2". The last text was for the European Youth Day. A special song was to be written for this occasion, and it was then set to music by District Elder Tomusch.
As an Apostle, did you serve members in different countries? In what places around the world were you active?
Starting in 1991/1992 I had nine countries to look after. In addition to Austria, these were the Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Hungary. Then in 1987 I began to work very secretly in the Soviet Union, where I later had a section to look after as a result, when this country was divided up and when the Soviet Union became Russia. My working area extended eastward from Moscow to Nizhniy Novgorod, and Tatarstan with the capital of Kazan. Of course, this meant a lot of travelling. On average I would be away from home for at least seven months of the year. And even when I was finally back at home, I was not really at home either.
Is the ministry a burden?
Everyone has to decide for himself ahead of time whether he sees the ministry as a burden or not. But I do believe that it might be possible to motivate those brothers who do not yet bear a ministry a little more. I think this depends first and foremost on the ministers themselves and how they present themselves to the members. For example, if a minister expresses to some young people after the service, "Oh, that was just dreadful! This divine service was really a tough one for me. I am so happy it's over now", then I think any young people who hear things like that will naturally think: "That's terrible!" I certainly would never want to do that. Or at times it also depends on how parents talk about the ministers in front of their children at home. Of course the ministers should not be glorified as gods in black suits. They are human beings and they make mistakes, but they should nevertheless be shown some appreciation and esteem.
In earlier times we used to play divine service as children. We used to imitate all the things that happened in the divine service, and somehow this always brought us joy. At times it even inspired the thought, "Man, when I'm older, I'd like to try that too!" I maintain that the ministers are called. And the ministers feel this call. And it is certainly not wrong when a young brother happens to say, "I would really like to become a Deacon. I would really like to become a Priest one day." This is not a matter of pushing oneself forward or elevating oneself. Rather, if there is a desire, then it should be pursued, naturally at the right time and at a suitable opportunity. Why shouldn't we promote and train the brothers?
How did you train young ministers? What can the Church do?
I also felt a certain responsibility on my end to train newly ordained ministers, especially Priests. We would then have a two-day seminar where we simply practised with the brothers: "How do I work with the Divine Service Guide? How do I prepare myself for the divine services? How do I use the Bible? How am I to interpret the words of Holy Scripture? What other aids can I employ?" That was Part 1. In the second portion, our focus was on pastoral care: how do I care for the members? What do I do if the members are grieving? How do I behave around members who have problems with mental health? For grief counselling and explanations on mental health problems in particular, we would invite specialists to come in.
Why do all that? Naturally there was the responsibility of training the ministers, but I have also told the district leaders again and again, "At some point we will also be retired! And when that happens, we too want to find joy in God's word. And if we do not invest anything into these young brothers now, it would be our own fault if we did not find joy under their serving.
What concrete plans have you made for your retirement?
At the moment I do not have any plans or wishes at all. Naturally that work—which I did with so much joy, and which I am truly thankful to have been permitted to do—is now behind me. When I am later retired, the District Apostle has already told me, I will likely still have seminars to conduct in Romania and Moldova. Especially to introduce the ministers to the Catechism. The one thing to which I am really looking forward is the fact that I will now truly have more time for the family, and I would then really like to concentrate especially on that.
This interview is an abridged version of a longer discussion with Apostle Kainz, which was also published as a video on nacworld.net.