Hope, an anchor of the soul
The president of the New Apostolic Church flies to Australia regularly. Still, District Apostle Andrew Andersen referred to the Chief Apostle’s recent visit as historic. The reason, all national leaders of the New Apostolic Church had been invited to a conference in Perth.
October in Perth. It is the middle of spring and summer is on its way. The pleasant temperatures contributed to the well-being of the numerous guests from around the world. Except for District Apostle Helper Ndakondwa Mhango from Malawi, who did not receive his visa on time, all the District Apostles and their assistants were present. The main topic of the two-day conference was our conception of ministry. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider had all statements that have been made to date on the subject summarized once again. It is fascinating to see, the Chief Apostle said, how the various aspects are filled with spirit and life and this then develops into an overall context, he said at the end of the conference. He will now bring all the Apostles around the world up to speed while the responsible project group, Questions of Faith, has been given the commission to develop a special edition of the Divine Service Guide. The Divine Service Guide is a communication tool used by the Church administration to share information with the ministers. Published in over 70 languages, it is the internal communication channel of the respective Chief Apostle in the event that he wants to reach the ministers in the local churches.
Religious education of children is very important
Another topic on the agenda was the religious education in our Church. For years, the project group Children’s Teaching Material has been working on worldwide standardized teaching materials for Pre-Sunday School, Sunday School, Religious instruction, and Confirmation classes. The teaching material that is currently in use will gradually be replaced. Sample lessons from the Sunday School teaching material were explored and discussed, and strengths and weaknesses identified. For the Church leaders it is important that the various cultural differences in the respective District Churches are taken into account. The content is identical, but the educational approach differs.
Following the two-day conference there were a number of bilateral meetings with the Chief Apostle on Saturday. The District Apostles use these as an opportunity to discuss specific topics with him at length. For the Chief Apostle this means a lot of work, because such consultations with him are of course highly sought after.
Divine service on Sunday
The divine service marking the conclusion of the District Apostles’ conference took place on Sunday morning at Perth Concert Hall. The service was broadcast from Perth, the capital of Western Australia, to the far corners of the vast Australian district, which includes New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and many islands in the South Pacific. Chief Apostle Schneider based his sermon on Hebrews 6: 19–20: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” He instilled courage and hope into the congregation: in spite of all the opposition there is, Jesus Christ will be with mankind until the end of the age, the Chief Apostle said. He went on to reassure the congregation that the Lord will keep His promise to return and that the faithful can hold on to this promise in this time. He compared this hope with a ship: “Our hope is like an anchor—it keeps the ship securely in place!”
There are currently 346 Apostles, who work in almost all countries of the world. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider is their head. Twice a year he convenes a conference of the District Apostles, of which there are currently eighteen. There are eight District Apostle Helpers who are also part of the District Apostle Meeting (DAM), the governing board of the Church. The next conference will take place on Pentecost 2017 in Vienna in Austria.