“I have been welcomed warmly”
About a hundred days into his new task as District Apostle in the newly established District Apostle Area Western Pacific, we asked District Apostle Peter Schulte what has changed for him and what his expectations are for 2019? An interview with Peter Schulte.
District Apostle Schulte, how do you feel after your first hundred days in office?
The year that I spent as District Apostle Helper was invaluable for my preparation as District Apostle. I was able to receive an insight into, and begin to be involved in, the task ahead. I have experienced complete support from my fellow Apostles and have been welcomed warmly by our brothers and sisters wherever I have visited. The same applies for the International District Apostle Meeting, where I also feel accepted and welcome. However, I still think I need time before I can say that I am comfortable in this position.
How many congregations have you been able to visit over your first one hundred days in office?
Approximately sixteen. Distance within Australia and between countries in our Western Pacific District is an issue that we have to manage. Already as a District Apostle Helper I already travelled to some of the major centres and spent a few days there in an effort to get to know the members better. We would have several divine services, seniors’ gatherings, and youth meetings in local congregations during that one visit, rather than having a combined service where it is not so easy to interact with the members.
What has changed for you compared to before?
In terms of my home life, the increase in travel has been an adjustment for myself and my family. Thankfully we are at least able to communicate in most areas where I travel. From a ministerial point of view, my working area is now much bigger, which means I need to take into account a broader perspective. For this I rely on the local Apostles, who know their members and their working areas.
How is your predecessor, District Apostle Andersen? Are you still in close contact with him?
He is doing very well and, yes, I talk with him regularly. I was actually in District Apostle Andersen’s local congregation for the New Year’s service, where he is actively engaged in regular congregational life. He was already asked by his rector to do the Bible reading for the Christmas Day service, which he did gladly and apparently visibly nervous. He is certainly not idle; he is involved with his business, and the jobs around the house that have accumulated over the last 20 years are still there! There are projects which we are still working on which he commenced, so he is still helping with these. He certainly doesn’t interfere but is available to help me whenever needed.
What about all the administrative work? Does that pose a challenge for you?
Administrative work has never been a strong point for me. So yes, it is challenging! Our church office manager worked for many years with District Apostle Andersen and he along with our other office staff are helping me find my way. As I live approximately a thousand kilometres from Brisbane, where the church office is located, we have regular audio-visual meetings. Since all my travel takes me via Brisbane, I spend time in the office on my way to visit various congregations.
Have you set yourself an agenda for 2019? What are your expectations for the coming year?
The newly formed Western Pacific District encompasses many countries, and that means numerous cultural and regional distinctions. A major focus in 2019 is to develop and grow this district in order that all members may recognise the mutual love and support there is, and that they feel a sense of belonging and partnership, regardless of which country they live in.
Peter Schulte was born on 22 September 1963 and has been leading the newly established District Apostle Area Western Pacific as District Apostle since 30 September 2018. The district is comprised of the congregations on numerous islands in the Western Pacific and Micronesia, in Australia, Fiji, Guam, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Macau, New Zealand, and Taiwan.