“We are not going to turn our Church upside-down!”
The New Apostolic Church’s concept of ministry is taking shape: Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained some of the key points today at a divine service for ministers that was transmitted throughout Europe—and also provided an outlook on open questions.
“The development of the concept of ministry is an extremely important matter for the global Church,” emphasised the Church leader during the video transmission from Nuremberg, Germany. “As Chief Apostle it is a sacred duty for me to steer the decision-making process and ensure that these resolutions can unfold in blessing for the global Church.”
Resolutions passed: ministry and leadership function
In an approximately fifteen-minute announcement following the divine service, he explained the most recent resolutions of the District Apostle Meeting International:
- in principle, leadership functions among the ministers will no longer be conferred by ordination, but by appointment.
- services that can be exercised independently of a ministry will in future be conferred by assignment.
- divine services will no longer automatically be officiated by the highest ranking priestly minister.
Next on the list: the priestly ministry
“The distinction between spiritual ministry and leadership function will also have implications for the priestly ministry,” emphasised the Chief Apostle. At present, this level of ministry is very hierarchically structured. “But fundamentally, all priestly ministries, from Priest to Bishop, have the same ministerial authority.”
The question arises as to whether the present structure is still appropriate to the current needs of the Church. “It is my conviction that we need clearly defined responsibilities, firmly delineated tasks, and—above all—greater flexibility!”
“One thing I would already like to make clear ahead of time: those ordinations that have been performed to date are and remain fully valid!” he said, leaving no room for doubt. “We are not going to turn our Church upside-down!”
An open question: the ordination of women
Beyond that, there are still many aspects to clarify, said the Chief Apostle, before going on to discuss a matter that has come up again and again, namely the question of whether women can bear a ministry. “I promise that we will also answer this question—along with all other questions that remain open at present.”
However, when it comes to the work on the New Apostolic concept of ministry, it is neither a question of paving the way for the ordination of women, nor of barring the way. “Our intention is to clearly and understandably define the ministries and ministerial structure, the various services, and leadership function.” Only once these elements have been clarified will other questions be addressed.
A request: time for the sake of unity
“I can understand that impatience may arise here and there. I am also aware that the expectations are very different,” added the Chief Apostle. “But I insist that we do a thorough job in this matter. This will naturally require some time, but it is indispensable for the unity of the Church.”
His conclusion: “Be assured, dear brothers and sisters, that we, the Chief Apostle and the District Apostles, are aware of our responsibility toward God and the Church. We inquire into the will of God, and it is our desire to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit.”