Working together to make the gospel heard
The collaboration of the New Apostolic Church with other Christian denominations in Europe is expanding. The process begins with personal contacts, but keeps on progressing, even after reaching the point of membership in regional boards.
Apostles Jeannot Leibfried (France) and Clément Haeck (Luxembourg, retired as of summer 2019) have paid their first visit to Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich. The highest representative of the Roman Catholic Church in Luxembourg received the two Apostles in mid-November 2019 at his episcopal office in Luxembourg City. Their discussions, which took place in a cordial atmosphere, revolved around the challenges facing Christians in Europe and Luxembourg.
Retired Apostle Haeck expressed his thanks to Cardinal Hollerich for his support of the New Apostolic Church’s acceptance into the Council of Christian Churches in Luxembourg. According to the Apostle, this is an important step in ecumenical efforts. In the meantime, the New Apostolic Church is represented in all the major religious bodies of the country, namely the Council of Christian Churches, the Council of State-sanctioned Churches (conseil des Cultes), and in interreligious dialogue (AGIR and InterFaith), as well as the LSRS, the “Luxembourg School of Religion and Society”.
Making contacts in other countries
In the course of the meeting, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich—who is also the chairman of the European Bishops Conference at the European Union (COMECE)—expressed his support for the New Apostolic Church to take up contact with similar ecumenical organisations in Belgium and France. Apostle Leibfried thanked the Cardinal for this support and for his openness toward the New Apostolic Church.
As a result, the circle of European countries in which the New Apostolic Church is active in ecumenical councils on a national level could well expand in the future. In addition to Luxembourg, this circle so far includes the countries of Switzerland (Council of Christian Churches), Austria (Ecumenical Youth Council), and Germany (Council of Christian Churches, ACK).
Participation moves further afield
In April 2019, the four District Churches of Germany were incorporated into the National Council of Christian Churches. In the meantime, three more churches were awarded associate status on a regional level, which means that the New Apostolic Church is now represented in almost all regional Councils of Christian Churches. As of October 2019, representatives from some 250 New Apostolic congregations have been participating on a local level in a total of 75 regional committees.
Although there have been regular discussions between the NAC and the Council of Christian Churches on a regional level since 2001, and on a national level since 2008, the bulk of these memberships, especially on a local level, were secured in the years between 2014 and 2018. Shortly before that, a phase of more intensive exchange began on the basis of the 2012 publication of the New Apostolic Catechism which, by 2015, transitioned into a phase of rapprochement with the publication of a guideline entitled “Steps toward one another”.
A significant contribution to good relations
A central contact partner in the process was the Working Group Contacts to Denominations and Religions (WG CDR), of which retired Apostle Haeck, retired Apostle Rolf Wosnitzka, and Bishop Peter Johanning are members. The chairman of this committee, Apostle Volker Kühnle will retire in the coming month. “His efforts,” emphasised Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in a circular letter, “have contributed significantly to the good relationships we enjoy with other churches today.”
Already upon taking office, the Chief Apostle explained just how important this is to him: “We are aware that we are all Christians,” said Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider in an interview in mid 2013. “We must fight for the gospel together in order to make sure the voice of the gospel is also heard in today’s society. And this is what we are working on together.”