International youth convention planned for 2019
“We can hardly imagine under what horrible circumstances many people have to live!” the Chief Apostle prayed at the beginning of the District Apostles’ conference in Johannesburg in South Africa. Afterwards there was much to discuss and to decide for the District Apostles.
The Chief Apostle asked God for help in a very emotional way—especially for those people forced to live under very difficult circumstances. He mentioned that there are many wars and conflicts in many parts of the world, and prayed especially for the many people who are affected and suffering as a result.
In the spiritual part, Chief Apostle Schneider spoke about the notion of divine election. God, he said, elected mankind so that they could recognize Jesus Christ as the Saviour and bear witness of Him to the world. With respect to ministries there is also a kind of election. “We believe that being designated for a ministry is rooted in the will of God and not in man’s will,” he made clear. He called for humbleness. “The service we render should be characterized by the fear of God. We must be aware that salvation can be received by human beings if they have been elected by God. God Himself calls His elect. Election is a mystery we cannot explain and a gift we cannot bring about through good works.” With reference to Isaiah 41: 8, 10, the Chief Apostle concluded with the following thoughts, “Fear not, church of Christ, do not be afraid, children of God, be not dismayed, servants of God. Jesus stands by His elect!”
International youth convention in Germany
Following the success of the European Youth Day 2009 and the International Church Convention last year, plans are being made for another international event—a worldwide youth convention.
The Ascension weekend of the year 2019 has been designated for this event—Thursday to Sunday, 30 May to 2 June. The event will take place in Düsseldorf in Germany since the exhibition halls in the city offer plenty of room. Invited are all young people between the ages of 14 to 35—irrespective of their marital status. First cautious estimates put the attendance at approximately 32,000.
The city of Düsseldorf offers several benefits. The city is located in the heart of Europe, has good connections and public transportation, excellent intercity railway services, as well as an international airport. Further benefits are that the organizers are familiar with the exhibition halls from the European Youth Day 2009, and the exhibition grounds are situated right next to a covered stadium that seats 45,000 people—a unique constellation, at least in Europe.
Preliminary planning has set the opening divine service for Ascension Day. The opening ceremony is scheduled for Friday. An evening of music will be offered on Saturday and the closing divine service on Sunday. Further details still have to be worked out. A task force has been established who will work closely with the District Apostle Meeting and discuss the preparations.
“Prayers for registered partnerships” was another item on the agenda that the District Apostles ratified. The position of the New Apostolic Church now is as follows: homosexual couples can receive a prayer on their union wherever the law allows for registered partnerships of same-sex couples.
The following conditions have to be fulfilled. The registration of the partnership has to have been legally executed and at least one of the partners has to be New Apostolic. The ceremony always takes place outside of a divine service. The prayer is not to be offered in the context of a divine service, but will, as a rule, take place at the couple’s home. Where this is not possible or desired, church premises may be used. Where there are no such statutory regulations, other conditions apply. The ministers of the Church will receive a handout.
New teaching material
Sunday School, religious and confirmation instruction—the New Apostolic Church is currently moving forward with the religious education of its children. Much of the teaching material has to be adapted to the contents of the Catechism. As previously agreed at another District Apostles’ conference, this cannot be done all at once. The first set of new teaching material that will be published is for Sunday School. There will be four volumes. The English version will become available in the year 2016, and the German version in the year 2017. To date, some 121 of the 144 lessons have been compiled, and 49 lessons are already available as a final layout.
Church strategy: a matter for the boss
The topic of future-oriented strategic measures is one that is close to the Chief Apostle’s heart. Last year, for example, he commissioned the international working group Church Strategy to assess what a New Apostolic congregation requires absolutely in view of our vision and mission, and to review this in all District Apostle Areas.
Such topics of future relevance are on the agenda of the District Apostle Meeting on a regular basis. Following the wish of the Chief Apostle, this will be even more so the case in future. The Church Strategy working group will be dissolved, and the Co-ordination Group, which is chaired by the Chief Apostle, will assume these tasks directly. The advantage is that these strategic issues will always be on the agenda and will therefore be handled in a fast and efficient way in the international as well as continental District Apostle conferences.
New District Apostle in South America
Chief Apostle Schneider also informed the District Apostles of the upcoming retirement of District Apostle Norberto Passsuni. This will take place in a divine service in Buenos Aires on 25 October 2015. Norberto Passuni has been responsible for the New Apostolic Church in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay since the year 2008. District Apostle Enrique Eduardo Minio (55) will succeed him as District Apostle.