In the service of Jesus
A familiar hymn urges: “Of service be to Jesus” and goes on to admonish listeners to be “a fit tool in His hand”. This is a question of what individual Christians can do—both for themselves and for others—even without an official ministerial mandate.
There are duties performed on a long-term basis that have a special place within the congregation owing to their high pastoral significance. In the future, such duties will be conferred publically by way of an assignment. Tomorrow, 1 September 2019, the New Apostolic Church will take this important step: sisters and brothers who are not ministers will, from now on, be sent into the congregation to perform a special duty, and will be publicly assigned. This means that not only ministers—such as the Chief Apostle Helper, District Apostle Helpers, Bishops, or delegates to the district rector or congregational rector—will be assigned. Now it will also be possible for members who do not bear a ministry to be assigned. They perform duties and services that are of a pastoral nature or that serve to provide doctrinal instruction.
At the International District Apostle Meeting preceding Pentecost in Goslar, the Church leaders passed the following resolutions:
- Assignment of teachers and youth leaders: Sisters and brothers who serve as the primarily responsible teacher on either a district or congregational level—be it in pre-Sunday School, Sunday School, religious instruction, or confirmation instruction—or who serve as a youth leader over a longer period, will in the future be assigned to these services.
- Execution of assignments: The assignment is executed by the priestly minister responsible for the person being assigned. It is executed in the same manner as for ministers. It can be performed in or after a divine service in the presence of the congregation or in the circle of the children or the youth.
- Termination of appointments and assignments: Those who have been appointed or assigned will be discharged from their appointment or assignment by way of an official act after it has come to an end. The completion of a minister’s appointment or assignment is performed by the Apostle or his delegate in a divine service. He expresses his gratitude for the minister’s service, shakes his hand, and takes back the mandate issued to him. The discharge of members who have been assigned to a spiritual service is performed by either the district rector or congregational rector, depending on the working area in question. It can be performed in or after a divine service.
In addition, the District Apostles have decided that choir and orchestra leaders will not be assigned. Instead, they can be officially introduced to the circle in which they will be active, and a prayer can follow this introduction.
Assignment in the liturgical framework
The liturgical framework for the assignment of sisters and brothers who do not bear a ministry corresponds to that of the assignment of ministers with helper functions. The act of assignment is to be performed solemnly, and begins with an address to those being assigned. Thereafter, the congregation rises, the sister or brother is asked for his or her consent to this assignment. Then the officiant prays for the blessing of God upon their yes, and asks that God may provide the strength and ability required to keep this vow and perform the duties associated with it. The actual assignment then occurs by way of a handshake.
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