Unleashing the potential of young people

Whether young people do something for the congregation or something is done for them, they are important because they are the future of the Church.

In the divine service at the 2019 International Youth Convention Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider had said: “Words and prayers are not enough. We must act.” The message was: show your neighbour that God loves him or her. At the recent West German Youth Day, Apostle Franz-Wilhelm Otten picked up on the Chief Apostle’s message and asked the young people to put it into practice. The hashtag #jugendbewegt (youth on the move) has been around for many years now and young believers and not so young believers have been busy initiating aid projects all over the world since then.

Charity in deed

Already the Youth Day of the New Apostolic Church Western Germany was a concrete form of neighbourly love. The District Church had rented an entire amusement park, Phantasialand, for the day. More than 10,000 people were able to use and enjoy the park throughout the day, could sign up for courses or workshops, enjoy concerts, and have pastoral care conversations with ministers. Since the park was not booked to capacity after the young people had registered, the New Apostolic Church Western Germany gave more than 500 tickets to various charitable organisations. They in turn gave the tickets to young people, children, and women from Ukraine, who are seeking refuge in Germany from the ongoing war in Ukraine. A spokeswoman from one of the charities reported: “The children were so incredibly happy today.” The mothers too were so happy for a change because it helped them to take their mind off all the terrible things for a while.

The Ukrainian guests were given food vouchers for the day courtesy of Phantasialand and the New Apostolic charity NAK-karitativ. In the divine service the following day, the victims of the war in Ukraine, as well as in parts of the world, were remembered especially.

“Grant us Thy peace”

That same weekend, the Young Choir of the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany came together at short notice to practise for two benefit concerts in aid of Ukraine. On Sunday, 3 April, the choir gave two concerts in Stuttgart-South and Karlsruhe. The choir, founded in 2009 specifically for the European Youth Day, consists of about 50 members aged between 15 and 35 for each project. The choir performs Baroque, Romantic, and contemporary compositions.

For this project, entitled “Grant us Thy peace”, the programme included several pieces by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy such as “Grant us thy peace”, as well as Knut Nystedt’s “Peace, I leave with you”, and Gottfried August Homilius’s “Domine ad adiuvandum me”. The programme was rounded off with a piano and organ recital and a recital by a soprano.

At the end, the choir sang “I praise God’s love in adoration”. The melody was written by the Ukrainian composer Dmitri Stepanovich Bortnjanski. The proceeds of the concerts, more than 12,000 euros, were donated to human aktiv, the aid organsation of the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany, for their project Emergency Aid for Ukraine.

Young and old in action

Young people, children, and adults from the congregation of Gaggenau (Germany) met on a cold but sunny Saturday morning in March to do something good for the environment. They set out to plant trees in the city’s forest. After the forest ranger had explained a few things about reforestation, the volunteers planted the saplings in the holes that had been prepared and put tree guards around the young trees. Only three hours later, the work was done and everyone stayed to enjoy a barbecue. The congregation also presented the mayor with a donation of 500 euros.

Activities for young people

Young people and their welfare were the focus of two activities that took place in South Africa on 4 April. In the congregation of Avondale, the young brothers and sisters in faith were sensitised to gender-specific violence. Following an opening prayer and a spiritual portion, the young people were shown a clip about the Sexual Misconduct Policy of the New Apostolic Church Southern Africa. A gender-based violence activist encouraged all to speak out against sexual violence and a motivational speaker touched on family dynamics, self-worth, and situations that young people face on a daily basis. A young sister rendered a musical item.

That same day, the young people from Kabega Park met to talk about mental health awareness. The meeting kicked off with a “mindfulness icebreaker”. The exercise was aimed at breaking the ice between the conscious and the subconscious mind. Everyone was to write down answers to various questions geared towards assessing their current state of mind. The questions were to help them to do some introspection on how they were currently feeling, checking in with their emotions and focusing on the present moment. Then one of the sisters, a trained social worker, gave a talk on depression. Among other things she explained how to approach diagnosing, dealing with, and treating different forms of depression. She also advised the young people on which channels to follow when one feels as if one could be spiralling out of control emotionally and mentally. The best course of action is to speak to someone you trust and get professional help. The main point of her presentation was to destigmatise the concept of mental illness, and open a positive dialogue between members about the topic. In conclusion, everyone wrote down eight things that bring them joy and made a pact to do one of these things every month for the rest of the year.

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