Mourning and comforting together
All interested parties are invited: the New Apostolic congregations in the German-speaking regions of the world will be open to the public for a service for the departed on Sunday, 6 November 2016. The preparations are already underway.
For Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider, there can be no doubt: “Our conception of the departed comprises part of the wealth of the New Apostolic faith.” After all, it clearly manifests the awareness that God desires to help all human beings and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is intended for both the living and the dead.
However, the services for the departed, which take place on the first Sunday of March, July, and November, are also regarded in a critical manner from time to time. It is not least of all for this reason that all interested parties—irrespective of the religion or denomination to which they belong—are invited on 6 November to get a first-hand impression of how these services unfold and the atmosphere by which they are characterized.
Announced by way of posters and other materials
The service for the departed has been announced to the public under the motto “And your heart will rejoice!” A uniform series of posters, advertisements, postcards, and calling cards have been created under the direction of the Church Work Group (WG) “Public Relations Work” and distributed as print templates to the District Churches. These are now making their way into the individual districts and congregations as print products.
The invitation text states: “Together, let us commemorate and pray for those who have departed their lives.” The print products are intended to speak to people who are coping with the loss of a loved one, for example. Experience has shown that many Christians are more sensitive to the subject of death during the rather gloomy month of November with its silent holidays.
Preparing the way with devotionals and more
On the one hand, the “Divine Service Guide”—the Church’s monthly circular for ministers—features a special article for this Sunday for the departed. It focuses on the Bible passage from which the motto of the overall event was taken: “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16: 22).
Beyond that, there are also two concepts available for leading devotionals to aid in preparing for the actual divine service. Both of these are captioned by the heading: “Everything has its time”. In addition to this, each congregation has its own proven method of preparing for the service for the departed—often by way of musical performances, for example.
Our task: sharing in the suffering of others, giving comfort
The overall concept was developed by the Work Group “Public Relations Work”. The group drew from experiences that the District Churches of Northern Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia had made with similar events. It is completely open to all District Churches outside of Europe to decide for themselves whether—and in what way—they will make use of the materials that have been created for this pilot project.
In Special Edition 2/2016 of the Divine Service Guide, Chief Apostle Schneider formulates the actual goal of this endeavour: “Our task is to share in the sufferings of those who are afflicted, pray with them, and strengthen their trust in God.”