All Apostles involved in building our conception of ministry
What is a spiritual ministry? And what is an organizational structure? Questions such as these were not only on the agenda of the recent District Apostles’ conference, but are also occupying the Apostles of the New Apostolic Church right around the globe.
The topic that the Church leaders have been working on since at least March 2014 is called “conception of ministry”. The Catechism—published at the end of 2012—supplies a whole chapter of answers to the question: “How do we understand the term ‘ministry’?” “But now we have follow-up questions to deal with,” Chief Apostle (ret.) Wilhelm Leber already said in an interview in 2013.
What this is all about was explained by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider at a panel discussion at the International Church Convention in Munich in June 2014: What is ministry? What is service? What happens at an ordination? Only once the theological groundwork has been rethought can one begin to consider social aspects: Who can carry a ministry? What will a congregation accept? What is possible at the regional level?
All Apostles involved
The Working Group Questions of Faith has been doing the essential groundwork for this since early 2014. The District Apostle Meeting, as the Church’s highest executive board, has been deliberating over this regularly since March 2015.
The discussions have now reached a new stage. Following an initiative by Chief Apostle Schneider, all Apostles—of which there are currently some 350—are informed about the status quo as well as pending questions and have been asked to submit a statement. After all, the Catechism defines the apostolate as authoritative for doctrine.
The District Apostles spent almost the entire Thursday, 10 March, poring over the feedback from the nineteen District Churches. Dozens of points and suggestions were up for consideration. The results have now been referred back to the specialist group to prepare another round of worldwide consultations.
Status quo in the Catechism
The entire seventh chapter of the Catechism is dedicated to the conception of ministry. The spiritual ministry “constitutes authorization, blessing, and sanctification issued through ordination for service in the church of Christ” and “it is exercised in the power of the Holy Spirit”.
Other passages examine the foundation of the ministry on the sending of Jesus Christ as well as corresponding references in Scripture. Ordination and the exercise of a ministry are also among the topics discussed. The ministerial hierarchy is represented in three levels: the diaconal, the priestly, and the Apostle ministry. The Apostle ministry is given the most comprehensive definition in the Catechism.