When every word counts

What would New Apostolic divine services be without the Divine Service Guide? Every Priest knows and benefits from the publication. A group of 30 Apostles are currently together for a two-day authors’ workshop in Goslar (Germany). nac.today asked for details.

When every words counts things become a little tricky. Not every word is suitable in every context. “Word” in this case is meant in a double sense: the so-called word from the Bible, that is the Bible text, and how the underlying Bible text is delivered in the sermon. The Divine Service Guide of the New Apostolic Church is an instrument used to facilitate the preaching work of the Priests. The Guide describes the framework, interprets scriptural texts in accordance with apostolic guidelines, and it interprets images from biblical times that have to be translated into today’s time and context. This is not always an easy undertaking, particularly considering that the Divine Service Guide is translated into 75 languages and constitutes the binding basis for preaching in all New Apostolic congregations across the globe. Message, elaboration, summary, context—the pattern is always the same. So who actually writes the articles in the Divine Service Guide? How are the authors trained? Are there any special requirements?

For several years now, Apostle Jürgen Loy from the District Church Southern Germany has been chairman of the working group that oversees this publication. Together with Apostle Jens Lindemann from the District Church Western Germany he gave several presentations and workshops at the International Youth Convention 2019 (IYC) in Düsseldorf (Germany)—which aroused lively interest among the youth. It seems that the congregations are keen to know how their Priests prepare for their sermons. The focus of the presentations at the IYC were youth-friendly services.

Authors’ workshop in Goslar

This gave rise to the idea of inviting the 13 English-speaking and 16 German-speaking authors of the Divine Service Guide to a workshop in Goslar (Germany). Since they had been guests at the IYC anyway, the way from Düsseldorf to the meeting in the Harz Mountains was short.

The authors do not only have their own individual style of writing, but they also—and especially so—represent the culture of the country from which they come. What unites them is the endeavour to make the articles—that is, the interpretation of biblical statements—neither too complicated nor lacking in depth. Not everything works in every language: the Divine Service Guide for services in the New Apostolic Church is, after all, published in 75 languages—a real challenge.

The Apostle ministry has teaching authority

There is no doubt that the Divine Service Guide has a considerable influence on the contents of the sermons in the New Apostolic Church. For reasons of authenticity and binding character, the Apostle ministry is needed here. The apostolate determines the thematic direction and interpretation and communicates it to the Priests around the world via the Divine Service Guide. That is why the authors of the Divine Service Guide are appointed by the Chief Apostle.

New authors

Recently, six new Apostles were appointed to the group because others will be retiring. Apostles David Heynes from the UK, Abraham Page from South Africa, Samuel Tansahtikno from the Philippines, Fred Wolf from Thailand, Ralph Wittich from the north of Germany, and Charles Zimba from Malawi. That means that in future there will be an equal number of English- and German-speaking authors.

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Peter Johanning
5.06.2019
Divine service, Doctrinal instruction