Third step to reconciliation: the date is set
The apostolic churches are continuing their policy of reconciliation: at the beginning of the coming year, they want to close another chapter in their shared history. A ceremony has been planned at which a third statement will be signed.
The schism has a date: on 17 April 1921, the Apostles’ College in Germany dismissed the leader of the church district of Dresden, Apostle Carl August Brückner, and expelled him and other ministers in Saxony from the New Apostolic Church. With him, 6,000 members left the Church.
Apostle Brückner and Apostle Max Ecke, who was expelled a short time later, founded the Reformiert-Apostolische Gemeindebund (Reformed Apostolic Association, RAG), which merged with the United Apostolic Church (AG) in 1994. Until recently, the conflicts surrounding this schism had not been resolved. This is to change shortly.
Text and date are set
A date has been set for the reconciliation. On 11 March 2017, a statement is to be signed between the New Apostolic Church (NAC) and the Association of Apostolic Churches (VAG). This has been announced in a joint press release.
According to this, the statement of reconciliation is expected to finally settle the tensions between the former Apostolic Association and the New Apostolic Church. The text has already been worked out and a date set. The ceremony for the signing will take place in the Apostolic Congregation in Greiz (Germany), one of the former strongholds of the Reformed Apostolic Association.
Numerous discussions led up to these developments. Participants were Apostle Armin Groß, Apostle Matthias Knauth and Bishop Ulrich Hykes for the United Apostolic Church and Chief Apostle (ret.) Wilhelm Leber, District Apostle (ret.) Wilfried Klingler, and Apostle Rolf Wosnitzka for the New Apostolic Church.
Precursors in the Rhineland and in Switzerland
The Statement of Reconciliation is intended to complement a similar agreement between the two Churches from 29 November 2014. This historic document, which was signed in Düsseldorf , concerned the expulsion of District Apostle Peter Kuhlen in 1955 in the Rhineland (Germany), with whom about 10,000 New Apostolic members left the Church.
A similar split had already led to the founding of the United Apostolic Church in Switzerland in 1954. In a first step to reconciliation, the United Apostolic Church in Switzerland and the New Apostolic Church Switzerland signed a joint declaration.
Meetings in South Africa and the Netherlands
Meanwhile, there are discussions with apostolic associations in other parts of the world as well. In February 2016, representatives from the United Apostolic Church of South Africa and the New Apostolic Church Cape had their first official meeting. And in September, a large number of members from both the New Apostolic Church and the Apostolische Genootschap in the Netherlands met.
The aim of these discussions and declarations is not to merge churches, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider made clear in February 2015. The goal is the reconciliation of denominations so that there is mutual respect and esteem.