“Your next destination is Lucerne!”

The world looks to Lucerne for its rowing regattas and festivals. This year, New Apostolic Christians look to the Pentecost festivities taking place in the city with the Chief Apostle. Although the divine service will not be broadcast outside of Europe, Pentecost will be celebrated in all congregations.

The usual international sprint competitions in rowing are 2,000 metres. Single sculls, double sculls, fours with coxswain, and many other boats compete for a medal on natural rivers and lakes. The Rotsee in Lucerne, Switzerland, is particularly popular with world-class rowers. At 2.5 kilometres, the lake is ideal for rowing. It is only a few hundred metres wide and is naturally straight, forming a perfect regatta course. It is surrounded by rolling hills and is therefore protected from side winds. The River Ron, which flows from the lake into the River Reuss at some point, causes a gentle current. The lake is embedded in a natural reserve and the Rotsee Badi (meaning “bath”), as the Swiss call it, is an idyllic swimming spot on the lake’s southern shore. In fact, rowers refer to the Rotsee as “lake of the gods”. Rowing regattas have been held here since 1933 and the world championships have made the lake world-famous.

A city of sports and culture

The New Apostolic church in Mozart Street is just a few metres away from the lake. Rowers from all over the world pass by here when they go to the lake to train. The New Apostolic congregation in the city, which is also the capital of the canton of Lucerne, has been gathering in the building for 63 years. The church was dedicated on 16 April 1961 by the then District Apostle Ernst Streckeisen. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider will celebrate the Pentecost service there one week before the start of the World Rowing Cup on the “lake of the gods”.

The city is not only popular with rowers. Culture enthusiasts will also get their money’s worth. Reinhold Seeger was the rector of the congregation in Lucerne for 24 years. He knows the city inside out. “The most famous sights include Chapel Bridge, a historic covered wooden footbridge and water tower, as well as the city wall and the Glacier Garden,” he tells nac.today. “Lucerne’s old town is also known for its well-preserved medieval buildings and narrow streets.” The city, first mentioned in documents in 1178, was an important centre of trade, politics, and culture from the very beginning.” Lucerne is a cultural centre with numerous museums, galleries, and theatres, the retired rector says. The Lucerne Carnival and the Lucerne Festival, which brings together international artists and symphony orchestras from all over the world, also attract people from all over.

Continental transmission

District Apostles from all over the world will also be meeting in Lucerne this weekend. The meeting is of international significance, but this time the divine service will not be broadcast worldwide. International Pentecost transmissions usually only occur every two years: most recently from Cape Town (2023), Goslar (2019), Vienna (2017), and Lusaka (2015). Inbetween the Pentecost service by the Chief Apostle is broadcast continentally, as was recently the case with the divine services in Buenos Aires (2022), Washington (2018), Frankfurt am Main (2016), Dresden (2011), and Chicago (2009).

There are exceptions on special occasions: the appointment of the Chief Apostle Helper in 2012, the ordination of the new Chief Apostle in 2013, and the International Church Convention in Munich in 2014. Besides, in 2020 and 2021, when the Covid pandemic made larger gatherings almost impossible, the Pentecost services by the Chief Apostle were broadcast worldwide. Although this year’s Pentecost service will only be broadcast to congregations in Europe, the resolutions passed by the District Apostle Meeting on Thursday will of course apply worldwide.

This international decision-making body has been based in Switzerland since 1977. Under the leadership of Chief Apostle Ernst Streckeisen, the International Apostles’ Unity was founded in 1977 and based in the Swiss city of Zurich. Its successor organisation, the New Apostolic Church International (NACI), was founded in 1990.

Excited to see the Chief Apostle

The New Apostolic Church has been represented in Switzerland for a little longer. The website of the New Apostolic Church Switzerland has this information: “In 1893, a New Apostolic Christian from northern Germany came to Switzerland. The founding of the Zurich-Hottingen congregation on Pentecost 1895 laid the foundations for the New Apostolic Church Switzerland.” From Zurich, the faith spread further into other Swiss cities. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Ernst Schädeli and his family were sent to Thun for this purpose. Thanks to him, a congregation was soon established there.

District Apostle August Hölzel is said to have told the Priest, “Dear friend, your next destination is Lucerne!” The first church service in the city took place in his flat on 20 September 1920. As the congregation continued to grow, it moved several times until the ground-breaking ceremony for the church building took place on 25 March 1960. The congregation still uses the church building.

Depending on whether it is holiday time or not, there are 90 to 130 worshippers on a Sunday morning. For Pentecost, when the Chief Apostle will conduct the service, a few more are expected. Congregations in the area have been invited to this special celebration. And everyone is excited.

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