“Back to Jesus—don’t allow any distance to come up”

The fall session of the International District Apostle Meeting ended with a divine service for the ministers of Europe. The focus of the Chief Apostle’s sermon was our nearness to Jesus Christ.

Tens of thousands of active and retired ministers and their partners had been invited to the divine service in St Gallen (Switzerland), which was transmitted to numerous congregations throughout Europe. The Chief Apostle based his sermon on Luke 22: 31–32: “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’”

Out of love for God and His people

Using the example of Apostle Peter, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained how a disciple of Jesus could gradually distance himself from Christ. For example, by no longer listening carefully to Him or by overestimating himself, and finally by becoming weary and discouraged.

“Don’t allow any distance to come up,” the Chief Apostle appealed to the congregation. “Come back to Jesus.” Christ predicted such temptations and promised His help. It is the task of the ministers to do precisely what Jesus has specified. That means, above all, making people into followers of Christ and not members of the church.

At the beginning of his sermon, the Chief Apostle thanked the ministers and their families on behalf of the District Apostles for their commitment and readiness to make sacrifices. He said that the dedication of so many volunteers is a wealth of the New Apostolic Church, which is also admired outside. “You are not doing this for an organisation. You are doing this out of love for God and His people.”

Our concept of ministry is continuing to evolve

Sunday was preceded by deliberations and resolutions of the District Apostles in Zurich. Discussions included, for example, the further development of our New Apostolic definition of ministry. This also included the question of women in ministry, the New Apostolic Church International (NACI) says on its website nak.org. The deliberations on this topic are still in their infancy. First, it is a matter of finding out what the Bible has to say about this. The discussions, which lasted several hours, will be continued in the next session of the District Apostle Meeting.

A new age limit that is not mandatory

According to nak.org, the District Apostles have decided on a new age limit for ministers. As a rule, they will continue to retire at age 65. In special cases, the responsible District Apostle can determine an extension of the time in ministry after consultation with the minister concerned. Until now, the age limit for this extension was 67 years. It will now be set at 70.

Saving costs together

At the beginning of the conference, Chief Apostle Schneider informed the District Apostles about a successful venture. For a year now, the administrations of NACI and the District Church Switzerland have been working under the same roof. The aim of sharing the same building was the reduction of costs. However, the idea behind it was not just a matter of cutting building maintenance costs, but also to make use of synergy effects in administrative operations—for example, in postal services or IT technology.

“This merger has gone very well,” Chief Apostle Schneider reported. “I’m thrilled,” Jürg Zbinden, the District Apostle of Switzerland, said. We have “developed a beautiful and constructive working relationship”.