Authoritative portrayal of our concept of ministry

“The New Apostolic understanding of the spiritual ministry” is the title of the newest special edition of the Divine Service Guide, which is now making its way to the ministers. A reference work also for future questions.

The issue, number 2/2022, with a total of 32 pages, summarises the essential statements from the Catechism as well as the various resolutions passed by the District Apostle Meeting, as they have been published in previous special editions from 2012 to 2020.

Thus, the ministers receive the “authoritative portrayal of the New Apostolic understanding of ministry”, which has been in effect since Pentecost 2019, and was officially implemented in extensive training measures. Here is the most important content in brief:

  • Everything that Christians do toward the proclamation of the gospel or for the benefit of the community of those who have been baptised in the proper manner is a service to the church of Christ.
  • The services associated with speaking or acting in the name of God require special authority, which is issued by way of ordination into a ministry.
  • Jesus Christ instituted the ministry for His church by equipping the Apostles with authority.
  • According to its dual nature, the ministry has an invisible divine side and a visible human side.
  • Neither Jesus nor the early apostolate specified a binding or structured ministerial order.
  • Relevant for the ministerial order are the respective powers. Accordingly, the New Apostolic Church acknowledges three levels of ministry: Apostle, Priest, Deacon.
  • Spiritual leadership functions are conferred by appointment; their deputies, as well as further functions with a spiritual emphasis, are called by assignment.
  • The extent to which a ministerial authority is actually exercised is regulated by the ministerial mandate in terms of both duration and location.

The Divine Service Guide is usually published first in the Church’s principal languages of English, French, Spanish, and German and is then translated into some five dozen more languages. Depending on the infrastructure of the Regional Churches, the publications are either distributed digitally or printed and distributed to the congregations.

The current special edition of the Divine Service Guide presents a status update of a development that spans generations: this reaches from Chief Apostle Richard Fehr (who made “a variety of suggestions for clarifying and refining the doctrine of the New Apostolic Church”), to his successor Wilhelm Leber (who published the Catechism), up to the incumbent Chief Apostle, Jean-Luc Schneider (concept of ministry).

“These reflections on the spiritual ministry are naturally not exhaustive,” the foreword emphasises. Because one question remains unanswered, the ordination of women. “It is only once this question has been conclusively answered that a complete account of the New Apostolic concept of ministry will be available.”

The text of the special edition of the Divine Service Guide 2/2022 will likely be published in community and in the German-language magazine Unsere Familie sometime later this year. Meanwhile, will continue its series on ministry and focus on answering questions that are relevant for the future: above all, the relationship between ministry and person, as well as between ministerial authority and ministerial mandate.

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Andreas Rother
ministry, Doctrinal statements