An ambassador of kindness
It is not necessarily the big doers who leave their mark in peoples’ hearts. District Apostle Gotthilf Volz was born 125 years ago. People remember him as being warm and kind, generous, and truthful.
“He must have been the epitome of kindness,” the person said, whom we talked to during the research for this article and who provided information on the eventful family life of Gotthilf Volz. He also talked about personal encounters with him. Even generations later, these are the memories that remain of this man who served as District Apostle in Württemberg (Germany) for three decades.
Gotthilf Volz was born on 13 February 1893 in Sindelfingen near Stuttgart. When he was 18, he became acquainted with the New Apostolic Church, and in June 1912 he received the sacrament Holy Sealing through Apostle Johann Gottfried Bischoff—the later Chief Apostle.
Truth and truthfulness were two key aspects that marked Volz’s path of faith right from the beginning. “For a young person, it certainly was not an easy step to join a denomination whose teachings were being discredited in public,” he wrote in his biography. “But what I heard in divine service, the truth out of the Holy Spirit, certainly sounded very different.”
Dual leadership in Württemberg
Gotthilf Volz engaged himself in the Church at a young age already. As early as 1914 he received his first ministry. Over the years, he carried various ministries from Deacon to Bishop. In 1950 he was ordained as an Apostle and appointed to assist District Apostle Georg Schall in Württemberg (Germany).
In 1954 Gottfried Volz was ordained as a District Apostle and, together with his predecessor, led the district until both retired together in 1965. It was not an easy time. The upheavals caused by the so-called message did not only have an impact in the Rhineland, but spread to the south of Germany as well
A successful businessman
Gotthilf Volz was also a successful businessman—initially he ran a company that produced knitwear. At the beginning of the 1930s he converted to electrical engineering and launched a company in 1934 that produced small household appliances under the trademark “abc”.
This was also likely where the idea for the new communion cups was born, that are considered as typically New Apostolic today. He was a successful businessman and shared with many who desperately needed help. “Nobody can even begin to estimate how many wishes he fulfilled for others in his life-time,” it said in an obituary in the Unsere Familie magazine following his death in March 1967.
Not only generosity, but also truthfulness and kindness characterised this man. This is what contemporaries and chroniclers attest. “I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me” (Psalm 119: 30) was the Bible text that Chief Apostle Schmidt used at the funeral of Gottfried Volz. And one companion remembers: “He was known for his warmth and benevolence. He was always concerned about those entrusted to him, wanting to lead and care for them in the mind and spirit of the great shepherd Jesus.”
Im Bild: District Evangelist Gotthilf Volz in the choir, seated in the centre, circa 1935 (Foto: Zentralarchiv NAK Nordrhein-Westfalen)